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Robots, wormholes and monsters: how artist and tsoHost customer Robert John reimagined London

Robots, wormholes and monsters: how artist and tsoHost customer Robert John reimagined London

Posted 15th February, 2022 by Sarah

Double decker buses, primary red post boxes, Beefeaters and Buckingham Palace.

These are the things that spring to most people’s minds when they think about London.

This isn’t the case for artist, author and tsoHost customer Robert John, though.

Today, when Robert thinks about the capital city that he calls home, he pictures robots, portals, tightrope walkers, mazes and more.

It wasn’t always this way.

Working nine to five as a graphic designer for the BBC, working on programmes like Dr Who and Sherlock, Robert used to mainly see London from a commuter’s perspective.

Oyster cards, tube lines, desk, Pret, repeat.

Then his father developed Parkinson’s dementia, and everything changed.

“When my dad developed Parkinson’s dementia he would hallucinate and see things that I couldn’t see,” Robert told tsoHost. “Being an artist, I’d walk around London trying to imagine how he might see the world.

Flower Lamps

“I would see lampposts sprouting flowers and buildings turning into giant robots and things like that.”

Robert began creating images, using a combination of photography and illustration, to reflect what he imagined.

As he started to post these images online, they attracted more and more attention.

“When I started doing the images, it was more therapeutic and a way of trying to deal with what was happening with my dad,” Robert explained.

Monster Hall Copy

“I only started thinking it could be more when people started commenting on them more and one of my friends had the idea that it would make a nice collection of images.

“I pitched the concept for a book to my publishers and I was lucky to have a publisher who understood my vision. They took a punt on the work that I was doing.”

In the year following his publishing offer, Robert spent as much of his spare time as possible working to finish the book.

“Working full time and trying to do this creative project on top of it was very difficult,” Robert confesses. “I was lucky enough to work in West London, near a tube station, so it was quite easy to go to St Paul’s or the Shard at lunchtimes or Parliament Square after work. It was exhausting, though.”

Gateway

In August 2019, the 176-page coffee table book LDN REiMAGINED: A Surreal Visual Journey that will Change your Perception of London was published, featuring more than 120 of Robert’s impactful images.

“The first time I got the book in my hands it was amazing,” he remembers. “It was also nerve wracking. All I could think of was that I might have spelt something wrong or something like that.

“I felt the biggest sense of achievement when I went into Foyles at Charring Cross and the book was there. That felt like a bit of a dream come true.”

The release of Robert’s book was also accompanied by an exhibition at the Zari Gallery in London that showcased some of the works in the book.

Iron Giant Ii

“All the images in the book are connected,” Robert explained. “There are little clues of a story between each of them. There’s a lot of detail in there that you don’t necessarily see in the book but in the exhibitions, when the prints are larger, you see the details.”

Following the book launch and during the exhibition, Robert’s work received a lot of press attention. He was featured in multiple national media outlets including The Daily Mail and on BBC Radio.

So, it was vital that his website, which runs on tsoHost’s cPanel Web Hosting, was powerful enough to receive high volumes of traffic.

“I’ve been using tsoHost since 2012, so for quite a long time,” Robert explains. “It has been critical to my work. The traffic to the site is the first way people see my images, so it needs to be running at all times.

Book Cover

“The site is high content, too. There are more than 1,000 images on there. It’s also crucial that it has kept running when I’ve had events like exhibitions when there’s been an explosion of traffic coming through it.”

Robert has been passionate about art since he was a child.

“My passion for art and design probably came from not being very good at maths or English or typical subjects,” he told us.

“And the kind of shows I used to watch and books I used to read were full of imagination. I guess that sparked something, too.”

To date, hundreds of copies of Robert’s book have been sold through major outlets like Waterstones, Amazon and Foyles.

“I’d have been happy if just 10 people bought it,” he says humbly. “When someone engages with a story you’re trying to tell it’s more than enough.”

The Walker

So, what’s next for the artist?

“I’ve been working on a screen play and graphic novel which extends the world from the book,” Robert reveals.

“They key thing for me is storytelling. The last way I told a story was through the book. Now I’m trying to tell a story through the novel and screenplay.”

To find out more about Robert John’s work and to stay updated on the progress of his screen play and graphic novel, visit his website What I See When.

To learn more about the web hosting that Robert relies on, head to our Web Hosting product pages.

Categories: Case Study

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