Introduce yourself however you’d like to.
My name is Rob Dobi, I currently reside in NJ and i do a bunch of work for bands (Thursday, Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, Angels & Airwaves, etc.) and photograph the abandoned buildings of the northeast.
Generally speaking, What projects are you currently involved in?
I just finished illustrating two books, one was written by two writers from alternative press and should be out spring 2007. The band work i’m involved with changes from week to week so there is never really a constant there.
First, tell me about how you started into designing and what programs you use to digitize your work.
I started drawing when I was four years old which eventually led to me working digital when i was a sophomore in highschool in 96, jesus that seems like a long time. I’ve always used Photoshop and illustrator as my main programs and I wouldn’t live without my wacom tablet.
How did you get started? Did you pay for everything out of your own pocket?
Fraid so, fronting a t-shirt store yourself can be pretty pricey. On the last run I had to pony up around $20,000 to get thousands of shirts printed. That put quite a dent in my checking account.
Your Fullbleed project has become quite successful, actually I’m currently wearing Oh Dear, tell me about what’s going on in that regard, especially the inspiration for your 4th season.
Fullbleed started as just a few bloody black tees as a way for me to make a few bucks but it has really grown into a fulltime job. I grey away from the standard blood spatter broken heart aesthetic and moved onto more conceptual colorful imagery. The inspiration for my shirts usually just comes from looking at everyday events and attempting to juxtapose them in some manner that may or may not make sense.
Do you have any plans to release fullbleed in stores? (I might be behind on that one).
Some shirts are going to be tested in urban outfitters soon, shhhhhh.
Your photography is incredible, and at times quite disturbing, how did you become intested in abandoned buildings (prisons, mental health institutions, etc.)
I always liked exploring old buildings as a kid, when I was at summer camp in 7th grade about 3/4 of the school the camp took place at was abandoned. a few friends and i would sometimes break free of the pack and wander around the place. I never really outgrew that curiousity I as a kid and once I hit college in providence I was surrounded by these massive abandoned buildings (all of which are now turning into luxury condos). My roommates and I spent the weekends exploring them inside and out and i decided i had to take photos of these places to document them for others to see because soon enough they would be gone.
one night i was watching mtv’s “fear” with my old roommate katherine gerdes (who was on season 3 of project runway!) and i couldn’t believe how bad the kids on the show were freaking out in these abandoned places. one episode we watched took place in an old asylum and i told katherine i would like nothing more to check out these places, she called me a pussy and said i didn’t have the balls.
That summer I did some research and found out the very asylum used in the show was about 20 minutes from my parents house in CT. the next day I spent all day exploring several buildings and haven’t stopped since.
What equipment do you use for your photography?
I shoot all digital with a nikon d70s, a ton of lenses and a manfrotto tripod which looks like it has been through hell and back.
I know you said one of the prisons you most recently shot is inhabited by homeless people, do you have any other strange experiences you can share?
I don’t really have any “paranormal” experiences if that is what you are looking for, I’ve had plenty of close calls with security guards which is always fun. I’ve fallen through a number of staircases and come close to killing myself (by accident of course) on a number of occasions. Last week I set off the loudest goddamn alarm I have ever heard, I was out of the building and speeding away in my car in about 30 seconds flat.
If you had to pick designing or photography as your only concentration, which would you choose and why.
If I didn’t have to pay bills? Photography. Unfortunately it doesn’t really bring in much income to me so I sort of have to resort to designing stuff for other people. I would love nothing more than to travel across the country and sea all of the abandoned locations the US has to offer.
You work with a lot of bands that, well, are basically the biggest bands in rock music right now, do you have any favorites to work with?
I always like working with Thursday, they always seem to be the most appreciative of the work I do and they gave me my start in the business. They always give me creative freedom on what I do which is a plus and you couldn’t find nicer guys.
Do you find that a band’s name crafts what type of design you do for them?
Not really their name, their sound certainly does. I’m not going to make a shirt for atreyu with unicorns and rainbows on it.
Do you wear your own stuff?
If I’m at the end of my laundry, sure.
Any last comments?