Artist and Big Issue vendor Rob Gibbs
I was born with a missing right hand then at the age of six weeks I needed life saving cardiac surgery. Unfortunately at the same time I suffered with two things, firstly a stroke down my left side and secondly an ABI (Acquired Brain Injury). Despite this, I always do my best and don't let these setbacks stop me. I am determined to make the most of everything and always aim to reach my full potential.
I have always enjoyed art and studied it throughout my high school years where I learnt the foundations of art. Once leaving high school, I had private tuitions from professional artists to enhance my artistic skills.
However, I discovered another passion, another form of art, martial arts karate. I could not commit 100% to both karate and art so I decided to dedicate my time to karate. I spent 12 years advancing my karate skills, became an assistant instructor and gained my brown belt.
In 2005 I also started as a Big Issue vendor. I had been going from job agency to job agency but no job ever eventuated. I saw some people selling the Big Issue. After my Dad and I had a chat with the Big Issue Coordinator – I got the job. No interview.
It was the easiest way of getting a job. I have not looked back since. Selling the Big Issue allows me to meet new people and to socialise. I feel like I make a difference to the community and to myself. I’m part of the furniture out the front of Bakers Delight in Howitt St. If I’m not there selling they (community and buyers) will miss me. I’m my own boss. My motto is: I work whenever I want, how I want and when I want. There are not many jobs where you can say ‘I’ll have the cake and eat it too’! The downside however is selling magazines in Ballarat’s winter - now that’s tough.
My love and desire to paint again returned. I no longer do karate. I am now focused 100% on my art. I’m actually a better artist than before. I’m more motivated and driven on what I want - which is to become an accomplished artist.
I don’t let my disability effect the way I do my art. When painting and drawing I use both hands to hold a brush or a pen. Because of the stroke I have limited movement in my left hand and it also affects my speech and the way I walk. But certainly NOT the way I look hahah!
My paintings vary from oil, pastel, watercolour, pen/wash, graphite and charcoal. My style is mainly traditional and impressionist. Throughout my life, I have always been open to exploring new interests and make the most of whatever I do. Most of my days are taken up with my art; however I always look forward to getting out selling the Big Issue and seeing my customers.
I have an art exhibition at Mattelles Cafe & Catering - through to Myer, Shop 10 block arcade, Doveton street south until November 1st 2016. All works in the photos are still for sale. Or you can contact me via email: