Scratching the Surface: Rob Plater aka TMO

July 7, 2015 | Aymann Ismail

ANIMAL showcases a different street artist regularly in our feature, Scratching the Surface. This week, we profile Rob Plater aka TMO.

Rob Plater or TMO.

Decade you were born in:
I was born in 1988.

City you currently live:
Queens, New York.

Drugs or natural highs?
For a while, one of my biggest highs came from weight lifting and playing street ball. Now most of it consists of either painting and drawing or kicking it with my fiancé.

How did you get your name?
TMO is short for T-MONEY. That was a name my cousin Louie used to call me as a spin-off of my middle name Travis. He used to always tag up his room with graffiti so I would always ask him to draw my name in the same graffiti lettering. Instead of Travis, he would write T-MONEY as a tag. He ended up passing away a few years back so using TMO is a way I can pay homage to him and also remember my beginnings as an artist.

Why do what you do?
I do what I do because I have to. Being an artist is something I literally used to practice doing a kid. I thought that with enough drawing a preparation, I would emerge as a famous artist. As I got older, creating was one of the best outlets I could ever have asked for. Art was something I could always turn to as a coping mechanism or as something I used purely to enlighten my mind. The pace at which I create and the imagery I make is all a very essential part of my life not only to express random emotions, but it also gives me a power to speak a language unlike anything I’ve ever been able to do in a classroom or behind a podium.

How does your mother feel about your art?
She loves it. I do, however, get the occasional, “Why don’t you paint nice things?” Lol.

Are you making a living off your art? How’s that working out so far?
Very inconsistent. At this point I have been fortunate enough to participate in a number of group shows, solo shows and other creative projects but what I’ve learned is that there are dry spells periodically, as far as selling goes. I am starting to develop a better understanding of how to promote and become a better business person to then be more consistent at generating a profit.

Fuck the art world or embrace the art world?
Both. There are days where I hate the art world and I make great work because of it. Then there are the days where everything is love and the result is the same. You need both.

Do you bring your smart phone into the bathroom with you? Why?
More times than not. Im always on Instagram and Facebook looking into any interest I might be generating with posts. In NYC, you use every second you can.

Do you ever feel like giving up?
Occasionally the thought occurs to me, but I have invested too much into art to quit, and I eventually snap outta that crap.

Suggest an artist to follow.
My beautiful fiancé of course, Christina Duarte. She is one of my biggest inspirations today because of her tough work ethic, humility and honesty as a painter. Her portraits are amazing.