Robert Bridges will be featured in the Kentucky Crafted Market, the Kentucky Arts Council’s showcase event featuring art and craft in the Commonwealth, March 15-17 at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena.

Bridges, 47, a Los Angeles native and illustration artist, moved to Kentucky with his family in 2009. He said he’s been interested in art and painting his whole life, with his earliest memories from first grade.

Bridges’ dad was an artist, and he said in order to get him to read his textbooks at this early age, his dad would draw pictures in the corners so he had something to look forward to.

“He would draw pictures, like Disney characters, and it got my attention,” Bridges said. “I got more interested in the drawings so I started nagging him to draw more and more and he finally got tired of it and he said, ‘Why don’t you draw?’”

After that, Bridges began drawing and said he decided he wanted to be a cartoonist while still in elementary school. He took art classes until he graduated high school, and studied at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle where he earned a bachelor in fine arts.

“I went there and I focused on becoming a ‘fine artist,’” he said. “But when I went for an interview with the head chair he suggested, ‘Have you ever thought about illustration?”

After graduation, Bridges got a job as a graphic designer until he moved to Kentucky. He didn’t have work in Kentucky other than freelancing, so his wife mentioned opening an Etsy shop.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had been thinking a lot about the children’s books from when I was a kid and all the drawing my dad had did…and I started experimenting,” he said, and that’s when he started looking at illustrative work.

Bridges said the land he owns here attracted a fox that came near him often. He said it would follow him on his runs and even sit beside him outside. He said it was the moments like that, these things that happened to him in Georgetown, helped him develop the idea for his art.

“I just started sketching, I started coming up with ideas,” Bridges said, and that’s when he thought of the idea that he first wanted to create a place to populate characters he was drawing.

That’s when the place was developed, The Thousand Weed March. This place was “whimsical, riding the edge but not overtly dark,” and then he began really developing the characters.

Those who attend the market can see Bridges booth with his art based on The Thousand Weed March.

For people who haven’t seen his work, Bridges described it as whimsical and like childhood memories.

“It’s a pullback to a lot of people’s youth,” he said.

In addition to working on his art, Bridges teaches preschool through eighth grade art at St. John Catholic School. He eventually hopes to show his art more, do book work for children’s books and begin creating books.

Bridges’ art will be on display in booth 231 on March 15 for registered buyers for Trade Only Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and to the public on March 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and March 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door, and children 15 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

Hannah Woosley can be reached at hwoosley@news-graphic.com.

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