Rock Steady Designs
The Story of an Accidental Artist
When I think of an artist, I usually imagine a guy who has always known that he was an artist. Someone who was creating before he could walk.
I didn’t really consider the fact that there are accidental artists. Until I spoke to Greg Robertson, artist and owner of Rock Steady Designs in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
To be fair, Greg has always been a creative guy. He attended Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico to study theatre performance, light and set design, and directing. But it was directing that really captured Greg’s heart. He followed this passion across the pond to study at University of Plymouth in Devon, England. He didn’t know it then, but his European travels were when the seed of his future was planted.
“I experienced the architecture and amazing sculpture of Italy, and that, I realized years later, had a profound effect on me.”
The Birth of an Artist
His life in sculpture didn’t truly begin until after college when he was forced to do what we all have to do at one point or another – make a living.
He was fabricating granite counter tops in the off season of his theatre job and he noticed scrap material literally just lying around. He saw potential – another life for this stone. A sculptor was born.
“Back home, being put into a working situation with stone sparked something – I could shape, mold and change hard materials with power tools, chisels or whatever I had. This was so creatively different for me that it took me over.”
Turning Art Into Business
15 years later, there’s Rock Steady Designs. Founded in 2000, Greg’s company creates fine art sculptures large and small, sculpted water features and custom installations.
The majority of Rock Steady’s present work is made from New Mexico Travertine and Vista Grande Onyx, but Greg has also mixed granite, metal and blown glass into his work.
The name of the company is evocative of Greg’s relationship as an artist with stone. And while that may sound strange, when you hear him explain it, you realize that relationship is what makes this man an artist.
“What I love most about physical art is that every individual has a different emotion about every piece of art. I take an individual stone, let it speak to me and evoke that emotion. Then, I add what I think would be the proper way to express that feeling that it gave me.”
The Work That Fuels The Art
But the work Greg does at Rock Steady Designs goes beyond just the art.
Like many small business owners, Greg works hard to create a balance between creating, selling and managing the business end of things
He spends a large amount of time on the road, attending showcases, galleries and events across the southwest – sometimes as many as one every month.
And installing his grand fountains requires more than just his creative spirit. A major installation can require large machinery like backhoes and cranes, crews of labor, city and county permits and more. But he’ll tell you, it’s all worth it.
Building and Growing
“I feel that I am incredibly lucky but I also have worked very hard to reach this goal. It took me 10 years before I started really seeing my hard work pay off. That’s because there was a lot to learn about the art world – and the MANY facets of it. I found my niche, and if I want to be successful, I have to cultivate the opportunities within that niche. That in turn expands my niche and allows me to pursue bigger and better goals.”
The most fascinating part of my conversation with Greg was his passion for storytelling in his work. I always talk to my clients about owning their story, so I was excited to hear about how that idea manifests itself in something like sculpture.
“Telling a good story on stage is challenging. Telling a story through a stone is difficult at best. I simply have to do it, do it the best I can and hopefully each piece will find the one or more people that it truly speaks to.”
Much thanks to Greg Robertson for sharing the story of his journey and his art with me.