Location: Nashville, TN
ROB HENDON: “I’m Inspired by the Acoustic Guitar…It Represents Songwriting”
There’s a gratefulness to your paintings. A positivity.
It’s out of sheer enjoyment. And, I love to paint. People notice faces in my paintings. Everyone sees something positive. I seriously paint, but I don’t take myself seriously. I don’t worry about criticism. Like songwriting, I’m doing what I love. I’ve been lucky enough to find a niche to make a living. Not everyone gets to write songs or paint for a living. Some days, it’s easy; you can write a song or paint fast. And, other days, you have to go back to it and keep working. It’s what I watched for years on Music Row with songwriters. So many similarities.
That’s true. You spent time on Music Row before taking up painting.
Twenty years. My favorite job was A & R at Capitol Records in my early 20s. I was most successful in music publishing—one reason I love acoustic guitar and songwriters! Finding writers and watching them develop, putting writers with guys like Clay and Marty to help them. I loved every minute of it.
You’ve had a lot of success with guitar paintings. What spurred your art in this direction?
My love of the guitar. My grandfather bought me my first Les Paul when I was 16. My favorite player was Jimmy Paige. He played a cherry sunburst Les Paul…I still have that guitar. About five years ago, I was invited by Les Paul to present him with a Les Paul guitar painting. I got to hangout with him a few hours and tell him about my Grandpa. He was a super guy. Then, I was called by Les Paul’s people to decorate the Ryman for his tribute memorial service.
That must have been an honor.
It was a neat night…my art was all over the Ryman. It was amazing. The perfect night. Since I’ve been painting, it’s come easy. Everyone has wanted one from the beginning. And, I’ve sold everything I’ve done from friends and family to people calling me from all over. I’ve got a painting in almost every state you can try this out. Many pieces in California—in Paramount Pictures and Beverly Hills—and, in New York City: the World Trade Center #7, the President of BMI’s office, which is the only piece of art in his office. Attorneys and music executives. Lots of well-known clients.
And now, a collaboration with SongTown.
I’ve always been fans of Clay and Marty. I’ve known Marty because he wrote for Mike Sebastian. We’re really good friends, and Clay writes for him now. Mike and I shared office space, so I got to know Marty and became a huge fan. I’m a fan of Clay’s songs, too. I see him every morning at Starbucks. (Laughs.) Seriously into his work. Once I got on the [SongTown] website, I realized they’ve poured so much time into it. It’s a neat match to do this shirt with SongTown—a unique opportunity. I can’t wait to show it. I like their message. I’m a fan of them personally and their talent.
This is an original design for SongTown’s limited edition t-shirt?
And, your first venture into “wearable art?”
Wearable art. I like that! This is the second t-shirt I’ve done. I’ve got a unique following: singer/songwriters, executives, and friends. Everyone is really supportive. Clay saw the t-shirt online and always thought they’d do one. But, they didn’t want any old t-shirt. It’s cool—a gray and white with blue guitar. Above the guitar it says “SongTown,” then my name on the bottom in white on a blue-gray shirt. This company works with a lot of the big country artists, and they know how to take it [painting] down so it’s not 20 layers of ink. It’s tricky. If they technically did my painting, it would be the thickest ink shirt, and uncomfortable.
Cross-genre art…with this, it’s painting and songwriting. What influenced this guitar?
The white and silver mix of paint drove me, mixing with subtle blues. I’m probably driven by color more than anything. I listen to music and paint. I’m inspired by music. I’m inspired by the acoustic guitar in this one. It represents songwriting, as much as performing. It’s true—I play guitars, collect guitars, and paint guitars. I’m not tired of it. After a decade of painting mostly guitars, I’m excited about getting back to it every morning.
You know, songwriters who are looking for direction—I think they’re lucky Clay and Marty offer this service. They’re honest and brilliant. They’ve seen the ups and downs of the industry. They’ve seen so much. If they’re willing to take the time to do it, up-and-coming songwriters should take advantage of what they’re offering.
So, more painting today?
I am taking a few hours to go fishing with my father-in-law, and then, right back to painting. I’ve been up all night painting. (Laughs.) I’m on a roll. It’s my time of the year. It’s awesome.
Order limited edition Hendon-SongTown t-shirts here.
“Rob Hendon’s name is synonymous with guitars in the art world. His work covers the United States and several other countries. His guitar art can be seen in offices such as The World Trade Center #7, Warner Brothers Records, Warner Brothers Studios Nashville, Sony Records and Sony Music Publishing, Oceanway Studios, Big Machine Records, BMI Nashville, BMI New York, Billboard Magazine, EA Games, Paramount Pictures and Gibson Guitars. His art has been featured regularly in the show Nashville. Some of Hendon’s previous work has been exhibited at the Country Music Hall Of Fame and Museum and the Cowboy Hall Of Fame. Hendon’s art has appeared in many television shows on networks such as ABC, ABC Family, CMT, HGTV, GAC, The History Channel, The Golf Channel and Palladia.” —robhendon.com
Originally published on SongTown Talk newsletter December 2015. SongTownUSA©2015.