Nerdlocker Artist Interview: Robert Bruno




It is not often in the Nerd world that you meet up with someone who also has a passion for sports. This is probably my least favorite stereotype about Nerds. In truth, I played sports my whole life, including soccer up through my college years. At the time, I actually kept my nerdiness a secret, or more accurately I didn’t even realize I was such a big nerd. In my mind I was a jock who enjoyed sci-fi and comic books. It’s also probably why I’m not a huge fan of a lot of John Hughes’ films. He insists on rigid stereotypes which I have never bought into.

But I digress. I seem to have found a contemporary Nerd who loves sports! Sadly he’s a New Yorker who insists on rooting for the Yankees, but hey, no one is perfect. I joked with Robert Bruno that he seems to put out a new piece every day. No clue how he can be so productive and still keep time to himself. Speaking of which, he took time out of his busy schedule to answer our hard hitting Nerdy questions!


Nerdlocker (NL): Tell us about yourself.
Robert Bruno (RB): Hey everyone, my name is Robert Bruno and I’m a 24-year old commercial illustrator based out of Brooklyn, New York.

NL: Where do you find inspiration and what are some of your influences?
RB: I’m fortunate to be a part of several great teams and groups that provide me with a constant source of inspiration on a daily basis. The Poster Posse is a creative collective of about 50 extremely talented illustrators and designers from around the world. We interact with each other on a daily basis sharing ideas, works in progress and most importantly, support for each other.

In addition, I’m always looking at, studying and learning from the masters who have come before me. I love the hollywood poster artists from the 70s – 90s like Drew Struzan, Bob Peak, Frank Frazetta, Richard Ansel… In addition, I am constantly being inspired by the subject matters in which I work. Mainly sports and pop culture.

NL: Where did you get your training and how do you continue to perfect your skills?
RB: I’ve been doodling since I was a young kid but I received my first formal training in high school. I was fortunate in that my school had a great art program with a wide array of classes including studio art, digital design, drawing & painting and then the AP (college prep) art classes. I developed a close relationship with the chairperson, Mike Cartolano or as we all called him ‘Mr. C.’ I ended up attending Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. This is where I started focusing on the specific field of illustration. I took dozens of heavy duty drawing/painting/design/digital media based courses that were equally as stressful as they were enjoyable. (Laughs) While attending Pratt, I had several incredibly inspirational professors who guided me and also gave me the occasional kick in the ass when they didn’t think I was working to my potential. Especially Tom LaPadulla and Rudy Gutierrez!


NL: When did you get your professional start?
RB: I began freelancing part time upon graduating from Pratt. However it wasn’t until I landed a gig with the Philadelphia Eagles that I really considered myself a ‘professional’ in the industry. I am now a full time commercial illustrator!

NL: Is there a topic you’d love to tackle but have not gotten the opportunity?
RB: I’d really love to work with more teams around the NFL & MLB and then eventually collaborate with a brand like Nike.

NL: What is your game day process, meaning when you start your day with a project, how do you get prepped/psyched to create?
RB: Most days, I actually hit the gym first thing in the morning. I’ve found this loosens me up and allows me to clear any stress from the day/night before and recharge. I’ll then generally work in my studio from about 3 P.M. – 2 A.M. every day give or take. The nice thing about working for myself is that I can always shift my schedule around or take a few hours off.

NL: What’s your favorite nerd related snack? (like what do you munch on while playing video games, reading comic books, watching movies, writing, etc…)
RB: I love my cereal. Cap’n’Crunch, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Mini Wheats for the win. I don’t play a ton of video games but I am a movie junkie!

NL: Who wins in a battle royale of famous Brooklynites, Woody Allen, Alan Arkin, Isaac Asimov, Mel Brooks or Steve Buscemi?
RB: Hah, I’ll go with Buscemi only because he’s the most relevant to me. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how his career has taken flight from the early days as Mr. Pink in Resevoir Dogs and that ‘funny looking fella’ in Fargo, to his goofy roles in many of Adam Sandler’s films, and finally his incredible lead performance as Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire.


NL: From a fan perspective, it seems like you get an idea and the next day we see a finished product. On average, what is your project timeline and your creative process?
RB: Haha, its rarely that seamless of a process. Most of the time I’ll have already spent several days working out a concept and developing a rough sketch whether it be in my head or scribbled on paper or in photoshop. My timeline really varies from project to project. When I work with the pro sports teams I’m generally on a pretty tight deadline, which I actually prefer. Whereas some clients have looser deadlines. At times I’ll be working on as many as 5 projects at once! Completely depends.

As far as my creative process, I always work out a rough plan for each piece. From there I’ll fill in the information through notes and sketches then gather reference materials and often times, shoot my own. From there I’ll scan in whatever rough sketch or drawing I’ve come up with into photoshop and begin painting. I approach my digital paintings similarly to how I was trained to paint with traditional oils. I start by laying in base shapes and tone and then build upon the details, working from dark to light, utilizing photoshops layers and array of custom brushes.

NL: What is your favorite medium to work with? (digital, giclee, screen print, etc…)
RB: Well in terms of finishes, I’m very partial to Giclee prints. I recently added a Professional Epson Giclee Printer to my studio and I’ve been pretty amazed with the print reproductions I’ve already seen. I do however love to draw with graphite. My brand of choice is Staedtler.

NL: Who are some of your favorites artists?
RB: I’ve already mentioned some of the artists I admire that have come before me. In terms of modern artists/illustrators I admire it’s quite a long list. I’ll just run through a few….Ken Taylor, Jason Edmiston, Richard Davies, Vlad Rodriguez, Orlando Arocena, Martin Ansin, Gregorz Domradski (Gabz), Nick Runge… and many more!


NL: Not typically a question I ask in my interviews, but you do a lot of sport related art. Plus, I’m a Cleveland fan (it is what it is) and I’m always looking to rip on other people’s teams. So what are your favorite sport teams (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL)?
RB: First of all, my apologies. Aside from the Cavaliers, you guys are pretty much screwed for a while! So, being born and raised I’m a die hard Yankees fan. I really don’t watch basketball until the playoffs, in which the Knicks/Nets are rarely in and I don’t really follow hockey. Now for the shocker… I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan. As you can imagine, this is regarded as blasphemy in NY but I was a huge McNabb fan in high school and I’ve stayed loyal since. They nearly gave me a heart attack this year with all the trades in free agency but i’m hoping it’s all part of a bigger plan…..

NL: Star Wars of Star Trek? Why?
RB: STAR WARS. I remember seeing A New Hope when it was re-released in the 90’s for my birthday… it was love at first sight.

NL: What do you do in your free time?
RB: I’m pretty active. I try to excercise as often as I can. I also consider myself to be a pretty big ‘foodie’. Me and my girlfriend Veronica are always trying new restaurants/food trucks around Brooklyn, Manhattan, and New Jersey. I also really enjoy kicking back and enjoying a beer while watching a movie! Doesn’t take much to make me happy…

NL: Give us a Nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.
RB: I’m actually pretty nasty at Ping Pong…


NL: What is your favorite movie?
RB: I get so much shit for this but I stand by Gladiator. In my humble opinion, Gladiator is the perfect balance between drama, action and storytelling. I’m also a big history buff and was always fascinated by the Roman Empire. Maximus’ line ‘Father of a murdered son, husband of a murdered wife and I will have my vengeance’ still gives me chills.

NL: What is your favorite video game?
RB: I’m all about the Call of Duty games. The latest Advanced Warfare game is pretty awesome. I’m fortunate enough to live with my long time friend Paul Van Wie… it’s a common occurance for us to both take a break from our work (He’s a third year law student) and unload on some Nazi Zombies…..we’ve found it’s the perfect stress relieving activity!

NL: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character?
RB: This changes year to year, but lately I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve seen from Captain America. The Winter Soldier is, in my opinion, one of the great comic stories and the film adaptation was incredible. And hey, he’s just a kid from Brooklyn… Like me!

NL: What are some of your upcoming projects?
RB: Most recently, I had the pleasure of working in conjunction with Hero Complex Gallery and Adam Smasher putting together a Watchmen film poster for the Wondercon comic convention in Anaheim, California. Aside from that, all I can say is that 2015 is going to keep me quite busy and full of awesomeness 🙂


And there you have it, Robert Bruno! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our nerdy questions.

Check out more of Robert’s work on his website – Make sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram as well. Also, stay tuned to his shop and support a great artist – And finally, you can buy his Watchmen print here with our friends at Hero Complex Gallery – HERE. Hurry, they will not last!


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I'm a true child of the 80s from a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. My all time favorite topics are Star Wars, slasher films and Cleveland sports (despite the misery it causes). I narrowly avoided law school, instead choosing film school. I have been accused of being a walking IMDB, but I take it as a compliment!