Frequently Asked Questions

When I'm occupying the gallery for my solo shows I meet lots of people.  Here are some of the most common questions they ask.  If you come to a show and meet me, feel free to ask them again.  They are perfectly reasonable.

Where is your name from and how do you pronounce it?

I am proud to say it is Scottish (since the Scots haven't unilaterally invaded anybody recently so everyone likes them).  My grandfather was Scottish, but I've lived in England, mainly London, most of my life.  If you are actually Scottish you pronounce it Mah Geel Vree.  If you try and use some of the letters that spell it, Mac Gill Vray works well.  I happily answer to Rob MacG.

Are you related to the other Rob (Robert) MacGillivray's on the internet?

Probably not. One or two them may actually be me, in one of my other careers.  See below.

The Imax filmmaker who is half of MacGillivrayFreeman is not connected (sadly - they are brilliant).

The Robert MacGillivray who was a comics artist is no relation either and I didn't know about him until the internet started making connections like that possible.  Ironically I must have read and, possibly, been influenced by his work when I was younger, but in those days artists like him were frequently uncredited in the UK.

What are your influences?

Artistic influences - I think some artists sidestep this question because they hate being compared to others or pigeonholed.  Maybe they'll mention someone totally obscure to get round answering.  This is as though they grew up in a bubble with no popular cultural influences at all.  Perhaps some artists dislike the inference that 'You're a bit like (insert famous artist), but not as good.'  That doesn't bother me.  I accept I could live ten lifetimes and never be as good as the artists listed below.  Randomly, here's the tip of a huge iceberg:

Frank Frazetta, Vincent Van Gogh, P. Craig Russell, Bill Watterson, Rene Magritte, Gustav Klimt, Norman Rockwell, Ronald Searle, Daumier, Alfonse Mucha, Saul Bass, E. Bolles, Eric Gill, Ralph Steadman, Uderzo, Moebius, Egon Schiele, Gil Kane, John Singer Sargent, Tamara Lampicka, Frank Bellamy, M. Escher, Mondrian, Tex Avery, Herge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Antony Gormley, J.C.Leyendecker, Howard Chaykin, Hokusai, William Morris, Charles Rene Mackintosh, Frank Miller, Nicola Hicks, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Dr. Seuss, Jeffrey Jones, Quentin Blake, Gerald Scarfe, Jackson Pollock, Chuck Jones.

Even if you think you know nothing about art, you will still recognise a lot of these names.  As you can see, I'm no snob when it comes to art.  I admire commercial artists more than 'serious' or 'fine' ones.  They work harder and please more people.

Is your work 'art' or is it just 'drawing'?

I love this question.  I can't answer it.

Are you a full time artist and do you make a living from it?


What else did you/do you do?

If you google about and look at the other Rob MacGillivrays who are alive and doing stuff, some of them are me.

Do you work from photographs?

No.  Except for rare and specific commissions where the subject is beyond question unavailable, I only work from life.

Why do you only draw from life?

On the face of it, it is pretty stupid.  Trying to draw a dog/wave/emu/naked woman on one leg while they are in motion is not easy.  However, (when they like the work), people seem to enjoy the energy and spontaneity in the lines.  This only comes with the urgency and adrenaline that I get from trying to capture something fleeting and alive.

How many drawings do you throw away?

A lot.  I'm ruthless, otherwise I would have mountains of sketches and studies.  I am prolific when I draw.  When it comes to life drawings, the most I have ever done in one sitting is exactly one hundred.  This was at a special group run by Stephen Palmer at the Lewisham Art House.  He runs fantastic classes and is a brilliant artist.

The photo below is those one hundred sketches laid out on my living room floor.  There should also be a picture of me laid out there too... I was pretty tired at the end of that session.

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