By Gina Malone
When management jobs in high-tech companies found Rob Travis walking around job sites “with two cell phones, two pagers and one stomach ulcer,” he acknowledged his unhappiness and set about to bring back into his life the creativity he had known in childhood growing up in Alabama and Nebraska. He left his job in 2000, and went to work with his father who had taught himself how to make kiln-formed art glass that he sold to wholesalers in the Atlanta gift market.
Rob’s parents were medical professionals with artistic talents and interests as well, but he credits his older sister Laine with setting him on the path to creativity. “She would basically start learning about different crafts (for example, making candles with hand-formed molds of wet sand, melting and coloring your own wax, etcetera),” he says. “Then she’d turn around and teach her younger siblings. This really sparked my interest in creating art. This went on for several years and started to mold me into the person I am today. My parents were very supportive of this.”
From his grandparents he learned to love nature. “Grandmother taught me my first birdsongs and plant and tree identification,” he says. “Granddad would take me out fishing, and we’d have great conversations about nature. They lived in rural Georgia outside of Atlanta, very peaceful and picturesque.”
His father’s studio, Glass Feather Studio Gallery, is located in Cedar Mountain, near Brevard. “There, I worked for 15 years as a glass artist in the studio and the gallery, interacting with customers, giving demonstrations and producing the glass from start to finish,” Rob says. In 2007, he remade himself again—this time as a photographer. “I bought my first DSLR with a couple of longer lenses for my interest in birds and butterflies,” he says. “After a relatively short period of time practicing the craft, I was invited to display some of my early work at the Glass Feather. As I improved, my exhibit—and reputation— grew. Photography really interested me and I applied myself with a diligence.”
With birds, he admits, he chose one of the most difficult subjects to photograph as he learned the ropes. His knowledge of birdsongs and calls cultivated in his younger years, however, helped him find the birds he wanted to photograph. Early on, he also sought the guidance and expertise of other photographers, joining the Land of Waterfalls Camera Club in Brevard.
The “true gift,” he says, is “being in the right place at the right time.” One such example led to Mountain Majesty, one of his top selling images. “I wasn’t going to go out photographing that day,” he says, “too busy working on the paperwork aspect of the business. But I went out at the last minute. I’m reminded every time someone takes this image home that if I had not gone out that afternoon, I would never have created it.”
With years of experience behind him now, Rob says his own eyes have become like the camera’s viewfinder. “I see compositions everywhere I look,” he says. “I often see things I’d like to explore with my camera that most people would just walk by without noticing. Managing my businesses and personal life often leads to periods where I’m not as productive, but my mind is always working on pre-visualization of photography projects I’d like to do.”
With the idea that “art like this only comes around once in a blue moon,” he opened Blue Moon Art Gallery in 2015, where he has curated more than 20 different artists who create “the unusual and unique.” Receptions for guest artists are held in conjunction with Brevard’s 4th Friday Gallery Walks. Home of Rob Travis Fine Art Photography, the gallery also exhibits permanent artists and offers framing services.
Blue Moon Art Gallery is located at 24 East Main Street in Brevard. To learn more or to purchase artwork, visit BlueMoonGalleryNC.com or call 828.565.2566. Find on Facebook at Blue Moon Gallery NC and on Instagram @bluemoongallerybrevardnc. Rob Travis’ work is also exhibited at Woolworth Walk in Asheville.