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Q&A with Rob Lally, one of Europe's leading mosaic artists
Updated: May 19, 2021
Rob's mosaic of Billy Jean King, pictured at David Lloyd Cheadle
Today we’ve an interview with Rob Lally, one of the leading mosaic artists in the UK if not Europe.
Rob is based out of a studio in Salford, Greater Manchester, his work covers a variety of sources, cultural references and icons from the 20th and 21st Century to private commissions for well-known clients.
Rob, you’re recognized as a leading mosaic artist working with, how did you first get into this line of business?
Quite simply, fate!
You’ve completed many stunning pieces of portraiture; is there one person you’ve not done that would mean a lot to you?
My family! It’s a question I get asked all the time, why I’ve not done them but I simply haven't got the time because it’s a big project doing four people and I’m so busy with commissions
Take us through how you go about deciding which portrait to do and how long does it take to complete?
The majority of my work is commissioned so the client usually knows what they want. But sometimes they might provide a few images to choose from and then I decide which one would look the best in mosaic form. The timescale varies really because of detail and difficulty. They can take a month onwards and the longest piece I’ve completed has taken 3 months working on it full time!
You’ve done many, many mosaics over the years, which was your favourite?
I don't have a favourite to be honest because each one is different and has different qualities. As long as I achieve photo realism and customer satisfaction then that’s enough for me and when the client gets overwhelmed and emotional especially if it’s a loved one then I know I’ve achieved what I set out to do. It might sound strange but you get attached to the piece and even if you've not met the subject matter you feel like you’ve known them a long time because you know so much detail about their eyes, nose, mouth etc.
A certain Mr. De Niro, standing next to one of Rob's pieces of mosaic art
Who’s spirit was the hardest to capture in ceramics?
Nobody's spirit is hard to capture at all, I try to get as much detail as possible and in doing so you can produce a piece that can be almost lifelike. I have had many clients that can’t believe the detail and how unbelievable they are, it’s a really fulfilling job.
With your reputation you obviously have had many celebrity commissions?
Yes, I'm lucky to work with a range of clients, I've done a portrait of Rio Ferdinand' family, which they all loved. The one I did for Wes Brown, of his late father, was shown of 'The Real Housewives of Cheshire' Series 1, episode 2.
What is the largest sum one of your pieces of art has sold for?
£15,000 purchased by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2014.
Who are you influenced by?
I tend not to look at other artworks but when I was growing up there was an artist that influenced me called Paddy Dooley, originally from Dublin and lived in Salford near me but I do love photographers and especially black and white images . My favourites are Ferdinando Scianna and Andrew Catlin. There is one artist I know who is fantastic called Nigel Walker and I'm also a big admirer of Harold Riley.
What advice would you give to someone who want to add a ‘feature’ piece of art into their home?
For mosaics get something done now because these pieces are timeless, stunning and fascinating. They are something to treasure for many many years. I’ve had clients ringing me on many occasions telling me that they have been looking at the portraits for long periods of time because there are so many things to look at within the piece and the life likeness is unbelievable. Or the Glastonbury one I did it’s like the crowd is actually moving it’s like an experience, not just looking at a picture.
Finally, how can the ceramics industry help support up and coming artists and established ones such as yourself?
Keep us in the loop with all the latest styles and colours that are available for us to use and keep working collaboratively so we bring our products to new audiences!
Thanks again for your sharing your time and stunning artwork Rob!
You can contact Rob for more info or to request a commission at https://rialtoceramix.co.uk/ or 07931 846374