About

A very handsome photo of the esteemed artist Rob Keller

Biography

Rob Keller (b. 1981) is an artist primarily focusing on sculpture. Now based in Berlin, he was born and raised in rural Illinois but has lived outside the US for almost seventeen years.

Rob grew up drawing, painting, and sculpting, but while at the University of Illinois, he also became passionate about graphic design. He graduated with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Ceramics and Graphic Design before discovering the extremely niche field of type design. In 2006 he moved to England to pursue an MA in Typeface Design and that experience then led him to Berlin where he founded the type design studio Mota Italic in 2008.

The realities of running a creative business relegated his artistic practice to a hobby status for many years. But in 2020, while locked in a tiny Mumbai apartment for the first six months of the pandemic, Rob had the opportunity to focus on art again. Since then, he splits his time between type and sculpture while transitioning to a life of full-time art making.

Artist Statement

Although I’ve spent nearly half my life in foreign countries, I wouldn’t say I miss living in small Midwestern towns; yet I always have fond memories for the region, landscapes, and culture. My work is often influenced by this nostalgia – real and imagined ideas of traditional Americana – as well as by my love for folk art. The older I get and the more complex & high-tech the world becomes, the more I dream of simpler times. My coping method is to build simple, imperfect objects with my hands. This working style is completely antithetical to the technical, computer-based precision required to design fonts, and I love it.

Cardboard, paper, and other found & recycled items are my primary materials. This began out of necessity during the Covid lockdown when I didn’t have access to anything but used packaging. I continue to utilize recycled materials as much as possible – this is partially from an ethical and eco-conscious standpoint, but also because I can be fairly cheap at times and I really enjoy finding free materials to transform and give a new purposes.

CV

Education

2007 Master of Arts in Typeface Design
University of Reading; Reading, England

2006 Bachelor of Fine Arts in Crafts – (Ceramics)
University of Illinois; Champaign, IL

2003 Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
University of Illinois; Champaign, IL

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2005 Alphabet Cityscapes, Parson School of Design, New York City
Ceramics

Selected Group Exhibitions

2006 University of Illinois, Urbana Illinois
Ceramics & Glass

2006 Bradley University, Peoria Illinois
Ceramics

2003 i-Space Gallery, Chicago
The “Future of Graphic Design”

Selected Honors, Awards, Highlights

2010-2013 Curated 16 exhibitions at Mota Italic Gallery

U of I College of Fine & Applied Arts Tuition Waiver Scholarship:
2002 Highest award of the 405 applicants in the college;
1999 Highest award for incoming students.

1998 Merit Award at Augustana College Professional Art Show

Quad Cities Arts High School Show:
1997 Best of Show
1998, 1999 Left Bank Art League Award
I was the only repeat winner in the 22 years of the show (till that point at least)

Contact

mail •@• robkeller.art