Robin Eagan is an artist, photographer and musician based in Placerville, CA. Originally from Stockton, a few years ago he made his way to Sacramento, where he transitioned from writing and performing music to creating graphic art and photography. He began making graphic designs and selling them as shirts and prints, and delved into nature and studio photography. Eagan is now based in a cabin in Placerville that doubles as his art studio, Cradles Cabin, where he produces prints that he captures with his camera and transfers onto wood, the final piece coated in resin.
Recently, Eagan took a big leap by leaving his full-time job and committed to pursuing his artistic passions. Next week, he will be leaving for Africa to volunteer for a month at an orphanage in Zambia. This Friday, Oct. 9, Cafe Colonial will host an art show of Eagan’s artwork to help raise money for his trip. TUBE. Caught a word with him as he begins his final preparations for both.
TUBE.: What will you be doing during your time in Africa?
Eagan: I am going to be volunteering at an orphanage in Livingstone, Zambia. I will primarily be doing childcare. Seeing after the kids, helping them with homework, playing games, arts and crafts, helping them with their chores, etc. I’m hoping while I’m there that I will be able to put my photography skills to use and help build them a Facebook or some other kind of site to bring their orphanage more awareness. A month is such a short amount of time to make an impact so I’m going to need to get creative while I’m there to make some sort of lasting positive impact.
T: What compels you to want to volunteer at an orphanage in Zambia?
E: Honestly I chose Zambia partially for selfish reasons because I’ve always wanted to go there but also because it is an English-speaking country so communicating with the kids will be much easier. I’m compelled to volunteer at an orphanage because it’s something that needs to be done. While it’s halfway across the globe, it’s still in my reach. No one person can save the world but if you want to fight, find a battle that speaks to you and step out on the field. This world is full of suffering and injustice but we can’t be out there fighting all of it on our own, or we’d go insane. … So I think it’s good to have a battle to focus on. At this time in my life this is my battle. To help out some kids who have really been dealt a shitty hand.
T: What is your goal? How do you hope to feel a sense of accomplishment when you return?
E: My goal is to bring some positivity into these kids’ lives. Try to get them smiling and keep them smiling. Of course, I hope to come home with a sense accomplishment but I know myself and when I leave I’ll probably be sad. It will probably be very hard for me to leave. They tell you to not get attached to the kids but I’m sure they’re going to melt my little dark heart.
T: You have an art show this Friday at Cafe Colonial to raise money. What can we expect to see at the show?
E: Oh man, a whole spectrum of art. For this show I will have the old and the new. So we are talking paintings, to shadow boxes to photography. Colorful pop stuff, to the dark and disturbing to nature photos. I am one manic dude and it shows up in my art. A lot of artists find their niche and stick to it. My mind just won’t let me do that. The more recent stuff that I have been doing is photography resined to wood or into old frames. I am thoroughly enjoying it. However I have projects in my head that are leading me into a different direction and I am very excited about them.
T: Can you tell us a little about the process that goes into how you make your art?
E: Well I have mostly been sticking to photography, it seems to be my favorite medium and the one I am best at. I am never happy with how any of my paintings turn out. For the pieces that I have been making as of late, I take a photo that I have taken and manipulate it in Photoshop to look like it’s old or a painting, figure out a frame or piece of wood that I would like to put the photo on and size up the photo. I print and mount the photo. Most of the time I will then burn the sides of the photo to give it a little more character. Then I resin the photo onto the wood or into an old frame. Sometimes I will keep the resin shiny but most of the time I sand it down to give it a worn duller look. This is very time consuming because I use about seven different-sized sandpapers and sand it wet. So it makes a mess. I then I basically treat the piece like it is a car. I rub in scratch remover and compound then buff and wax it.
T: What led you to this particular method?
E: Like I said, I love photography. I love setting up shots or going out and chasing shots. But I wasn’t satisfied with just having a print of these things. Putting them in frames just became so boring so I started thinking of other ways that I could be creative because that’s what I felt was really missing, was the creativity … So I started transferring photos to wood because I’ve always loved that look and one day I transferred a hummingbird piece onto a cupboard door. I really loved how it looked but I just felt like it was missing something. So I thought I would try using resin to make the image pop more. I loved how it turned out and haven’t turned back since.
T: How has the transition from working a full-time job to being completely independent been?
E: It’s been incredible all around. Incredibly liberating, incredibly terrifying, incredibly wonderful and incredibly stressful. Overall though it’s been incredibly amazing. It was a very scary transition and one I wasn’t sure I was ready for but knew if I wanted to be happy I had to just do it. Sometimes work comes knocking on my door and sometimes I have to go out chasing it but so far it’s been a success. I’m very excited about where I am headed.
T: What advice do you have for anyone considering following their passion as you have?
E: Well, you should know that there is never a right time to do it. You can keep trying to get all your ducks in a row but something always falls out of place and there is always an excuse for why you can’t do it now. I say if you have the tools you need to follow your passions, fucking go for it… It might sound cheesy but you really just have to believe you can. For me I reached a point in my life where I asked myself what are the three things you want to do most in this world? I want to create, I want to travel and I want to somehow make a difference.
You can see more of Robin’s art and photography at www.robineagan.com. He also sells shirts and prints at www.cradlescreations.bigcartel.com. To donate to his trip to Zambia, go to www.gofundme.com/x62yde44.
Words: Sven Olai. Photos courtesy of the artist.