MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ: It is not always easy to be a career artist. We are all familiar with the "starving artist" scenario. Artists must constantly design and promote their own material, which can become quite all consuming, because of all the competition they face. Being a successful artist has nothing to do with luck, they have to be quickly prepared for opportunities when they come their way.
Red Bank artist Jordan Grace Robinson, Recognized a unique opportunity and quickly moved on it. One of Robinson's designs was chosen out of over 1200 submissions, for the Rockefeller Center Flag Project.
"I can always be found painting, drawing, and experimenting with new art mediums! When creating my flag design, I reminisced about memories from my childhood years living in Hanover Square and Christmas Eve visiting family in Brooklyn Heights. I was also inspired by the city's industrial landscape, the hustle and bustle of people walking around the city, and natural greenery and florals found throughout NYC. The deep hue of brownstones was my inspiration for the color of the "NYC" type. The "N" structure was to pay homage to The Twin Towers. The flowers symbolize how NYC will always thrive and come back stronger each year-- to bloom even more vibrant than the year before!” said Robinson in her submission statement for the Rockefeller Center Flag Project. Robinson is also the founder of Art TuGo-Take Art With You; one of a kind handbags and wallets for people who aren't afraid to stand out from a crowd. According to Robinson, her designs are inspired by modern art and urban street fashion. No two pieces are alike so the owner has a unique piece of wearable art.
We asked Jordan a few questions on her never-ending journey in developing her craft and talents, and some of her business ventures.
TAP: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up?
Robinson: I’ve had a crayon in my hand since I was a child! I was born in Santa Barbara, California but have lived in NJ for the majority of my life. I consider Jackson, NJ to be my childhood hometown. I often joke that one would think I was in the Witness Protection Program due to the times my family and I moved growing up!
I say that with love because I’m so proud of my Dad’s fashion photography accomplishments which is the reason we moved to various places when I was a child. I’ve lived in NYC, Jackson NJ, Miami, FL., and moved to Rumson, when I was in eighth grade. I graduated from Rumson Fair Haven High School in 2008.
TAP: What and where did you study after high school?
Robinson: I completed my Foundation Year which focuses within Fine Arts at The University of The Arts in Philadelphia, PA. I decided to transfer to Brookdale Community College to turn my studies to fashion earning my A.A.S. Degree in Fashion Merchandising.
I’m so happy I did (transfer to Brookdale), because without that education, I would have never learned to properly sew and find that I had a passion in textile designing! I don’t think my Art TuGo-Take Art With You line would have been born without having the wonderful educational experience I had at Brookdale! My “Intro to Fashion Design” with Professor Mariah Hale was incredibly inspiring.
She and her business partner designed and crafted costumes for various Off and On Broadway shows including the hit show, “A Bronx Tale”! I was a student of hers when she was in the midst of creating for “A Bronx Tale” and that was a very, very cool experience.
TAP: Congratulations on your flag design being selected as one of the 193 winning designs for Rockefeller Center’s The Flag Project. Tell us about that.
ROBINSON: This past Spring, Rockefeller Center announced its first ever contest asking participants to design a flag design inspired by their prompt: “Show your love for NYC.” Participants were allowed to submit multiple entries and allowed to collaborate. Designs were to be hand-drawn/painted and or digitally designed. A total of 193 flags were selected by high ranking artists and staff at Rockefeller Center. Several renowned artists such as Jeff Koons, have flags in the installation as well. The flags were raised on August 1 and runs through August 16th, 2020.
Since winning artists keep the rights to their designs, I decided to start a line of digitally printed products featuring my flag design! To give back to NYC, I will be donating 50% earnings to various NYC based non-profits.
TAP: For our readers, please discuss your “Art TuGo-Take Art With You” business
Robinson: Art TuGo, is a line of hand-painted & sewn handbags, wallets, and wall art. I’m the sole creator, founder, and artist. I’m a huge fan of Abstract, Modern, and Pop Art so my hand-painted designs reflect those styles.
I often design both sides of the bag in two varied styles. I love the idea of “showing off” different sides of the bag while people are out-and-about sporting their Art TuGo!
I proudly donate 10% of each sale to the “Don’t Shock Me” Foundation. Don’t Shock Me is a non-profit dedicated to heightening awareness of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It was created in honor of 19-year-old Maddy Massabni, who lost her life to TSS on March 30, 2017.
TAP: How did you come up with the concept for your line?
Robinson: A year after graduating from Brookdale, my parents gifted me a Project Runway Limited Edition Brother Sewing Machine for Christmas. This touched me greatly and was an example of the many ways they’ve supported my love for the arts and my career choices.
Giddy with excitement on what to create first with my machine, I went to my local fabric shop and leisurely combed through the aisles of fabrics, purposely waiting for that, “This is it!” moment. I was intrigued by this literal “blank canvas” I saw. It inspired me to create my own textile! I purchased a yard of it, took it home, and after staring at it for a while, I decided to create an abstract painting on it.
That night I had a dream about the finished project—I dreamt I made a handbag!
TAP: How did you come up with the name Art TuGo- Take Art With You?
Robinson: Since it’s wearable art I wanted to use the tagline, “Take Art With You” and to pay homage to my Puerto Rican heritage. I came up with, “TuGo” rather than “To-Go”. Even though the word tugo doesn’t translate directly into a Spanish word, “tu” means you in English.
TAP: Where do you currently sell your Art TuGo collection(s)?
Robinson: Severedwing located in Asbury Park, NJ., The Local Line in Red Bank. I’m currently exhibiting and selling at The Oyster Point Gallery within the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, and I have a handful of listings on Etsy.
On Sunday August 9th coming full circle, Robinson shared her talents, this time as the teacher, Robinson taught a VIRTUAL DIY Textile Class in affiliation with The Local Line. For details please visit/ contact The Local Line.
TAP: Do you have any projects on the hopefully, “COVID-free” horizon?
ROBINSON: I proposed two mural concepts to the Borough of Red Bank. I applied to create a mural entitled, “Like Flowers We’ll Bloom Again” to be featured in the parks in Downtown Red Bank.
The Borough informed me the parks aren’t looking at those types of projects currently but suggested I ask if any privately owned businesses are interested. Then to re-apply with their consent.
If any of your readers know of someone who’s interested, please contact me via e-mail: email@example.com. I have a online petition to help boost momentum for the project.
TAP: It’s nice to hear a joyful story of a rising artist during these times when some days it may seem joy has been lost in our world. Thank you for speaking with us, and we wish you continued success in your endeavors
ROBINSON: Thank you for inviting me to speak with you! I’m so glad I was able to instill some happiness during these difficult times. I’d like to wish your readers continued good health and to part with a poem from one of my self-published poetry books, “Like Flowers We’ll Bloom Again.”
“Creativity soothed the soul and filled each day with wonder and awe.
Just like flowers, humanity will bloom again.”
The book is available for purchase online by clicking HERE.
To purchase items seen on the picture carousel, click HERE.
And don't forget to support Jordan's mural petition!