“I want people to feel good about being alive”: Rob Moss Wilson’s works are absolute joy

Inspired by the great outdoors and simple pleasures of everyday life, Rob Moss Wilson is an artist to admire for just how happy his works make viewers.

5 October 2020


“I love people and I love nature and I love other beautiful things like friends and picnics and clouds and swimming,” answers the artist Rob Moss Wilson when we ask him to describe his work. A creative whose pieces exude absolute delight and makes us very, very happy, it’s no wonder that it's simple joys which fuel his practice. In fact, creating artworks has been a method of self care throughout Rob’s life.

Based in Martinez, California, Rob originally studied philosophy and English at Berkeley, before finding creativity through a series of jobs. At first he moved to Santa Cruz after university, “to live in a treehouse for a couple of years” while working at the incredible animation company, Encyclopedia Pictura. “I found those folks inspiring beyond words, and they successfully instilled within me the desire to spend my life making beautiful things,” the artist recalls. Then spending time working at Adventure Playground, “where I helped kids build forts,” Rob moved onto The Exploratorium, a science museum in San Fransisco. “None of these jobs paid especially well,” he adds, “they made up for it by enriching my soul.”

Each led Rob down a path which ended in him creating paintings and illustrations full time. At the moment the artist rotates his time “between television, illustration work, drawing, paintings, getting outside to move my body, and enjoying time with my family and girlfriend,” he tells It’s Nice That. Always encouraged to pick up a pencil or paintbrush as his father was an artist too, drawing in particular has become a real therapeutic and sense-making practice for Rob. “I draw when I’m happy and I draw when I’m sad. A lot of it feels like fun, a lot of it feels like failing,” he explains of his methods.


Rob Moss Wilson: Sitting With Clouds (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)

In turn, it’s comforting to understand that although his overall practice is full of joy, Rob, like most creatives, battles with his own feelings throughout the process of making work. For instance, “sometimes it feels right in the moment, sometimes it feels terrible,” he continues. “Oftentimes I’ll look back at what I did a few days earlier and I’ll be able to forgive myself for hating what I did and instead appreciate the fact I went through the effort at all, and, I’ll laugh at what was uncomfortable and awkward in the moment and admire how I didn’t let that get in the way of trying and I like those drawings the most. So, it’s a struggle, but one I find deeply amusing and I try to work with all the feelings.”

The results are pieces which usually involve nature and a character Rob’s dreamed up enjoying it in various ways, sunbathing in the nude or spotted in the distance on a big lengthy walk. Although on canvas, Rob somehow manages to portray fresh air filling your lungs in his works that evoke happiness – a feeling he aims to instil in viewers. “Perhaps my medium is both the material and the reaction it provokes,” he tells us. “I’m not trying to insert my own ideas into the art. I want to activate feelings of wellbeing and love, not by speaking to something deep inside you, but by paying homage to what’s outside of us,” the artist says. “I want people to feel good about being alive, with others, alongside whatever the clouds are doing that day. I am depicting ideal circumstances, but nothing extraordinary I believe.”

Being an artist inspired by and communicating the glee that can come from being outside or surrounded by friends, the past few months have been understandably difficult for Rob. “Honestly, the lack of intimate gatherings with other friends (dancing in particular) has affected my mental health,” he tells us. However in painting more, “and I find the task of painting people hanging out doing things together as an almost suitable temporary replacement for the actual thing,” the artist hopes that, most of all, his pieces bring joy to others.


Rob Moss Wilson: Sunbathe Fam (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Sitting at Catalina (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Living Room Scene (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Friends Walkin (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Readin (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Fireside Sit (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Underwater Cave Sequence (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Brown Bear Satori (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Big Sur Walkers (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)


Rob Moss Wilson: Walkers (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)

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Rob Moss Wilson: Dancing (Copyright © Rob Moss Wilson, 2020)

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.


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