Discover more from Rob Schamberger Newsletter
Time Travel Art Machine: WrestleMania Live Art
I Had a Good Run With These
I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at the paintings I made each year live at WrestleMania. I’ve already shared my WM30 and 31 paintings with you in prior posts, so let’s take a look at the others.
Above is the painting from WM32 in Dallas, featuring Triple H and Roman Reigns (a signed version of this is going up on WWE Auction this Sunday. Details here.) from a photo shoot WWE did just for me to make this painting.
Here’s Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg from WM33 in Orlando. I still rather like this concept, split between the two brutes. I don’t think I sold more than, like, two of these prints. But I liked it, dang it! This was the first year where WWE put me in complete control of my exhibit at Axxess and my best friend Andy came to help Katy and I with it. This was also the year where at the show itself, after having worked intense hours Andy brought me a beer so that we could kick back but before I could take a drink, I kid you not, a bird crapped in it.
There was a solid second where I considered still going for it but thought better. After the show Katy went up to the room to sleep and Andy and I killed a case of beer out on the hotel’s patio and it was one of my very favorite WM memories.
Next up is Asuka vs Charlotte from WM34 in New Orleans. Okay, there’s a funny story associated with this one that’s not even close to PG, but we’re doing it. So, this was painted with acrylics and the thing with acrylics is that you work from back to front and from dark to light, as the paint is opaque. So, Charlotte is the furthest back and the skin on her torso is the furthest back part of her to start painting. As I was doing so, a dude was at the exhibit and said to Andy and Katy, “My man. Startin’ with the +!+s.” That’s been brought up every single time we’ve gotten together since.
Other highlights from the show: A guy asked Andy, who only kinda watches WWE, if I had painted him to which Andy gave his best David Spade, “And you are….?” It was The Miz’s dad George and they were filming for Miz & Mrs. I wish that’d gotten included on the series!
Our Air BnB in NOLA was a rad row house near Magazine Street, where we could walk over for pre- and post-show meals. It’s probably my favorite place we’ve stayed for a ‘Mania.
Charlotte vs Ronda vs Becky from WM35 in New York. This was a big one for me personally, as the last time I’d been in NY for ‘Mania was when I got t-boned by the semi, nearly killing me and my career both. Now I was back, with Katy and our pals Cheryl and Zeb as a part of the event. Not only did I survive, not only did my career keep going, but I was back in a big way.
Of course, a couple days into the event I started getting death threats and other general threats related to the art I’d made for WWE SuperCard. From the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs and back down to some deep lows. I pretty much stayed home for a couple weeks straight after this, but it got me to start therapy. Thanks for being the impetus to get me to finally take the steps necessary to help myself, trolls!
The first day of Axxess, our friends weren’t really prepared for what the experience would be and how big a deal I had become with the fans. There was a line of a few dozen people and after a teenage girl cried while I signed her shirt, my buddy Zeb came up and whispered, “So, you’re like…an actual rock star?” Everyone in Kansas City really only know me as Katy’s antisocial husband and have a hard time wrapping their heads around what I do and how much it means to folks.
Pandemic Year! WrestleMania at Home! Edge vs Randy Orton! I did a virtual Axxess of sorts, showing process for this painting over the course of the week and then debuting it that Sunday. This is very different from my other WM paintings as it’s a mix of ink, watercolor and acrylic. Since I was home in the studio I could take another approach and I’m still especially happy with the acrylic color hatching I did on it.
Lockdown was still fresh and we had no idea how hard 2020 was going to be. I remember being really optimistic about things. Oh, what a fresh-eyed kid I was!
This was another one from home. Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks at WrestleMania 37! Even though Katy and I were vaccinated by this time, neither we nor WWE thought it’d be safe nor appropriate to do the live art component of Axxess. There wasn’t even Axxess that year, just a store. I did this similar to the year before, showing all of the progress every day leading up to its reveal. This still stands as my best-selling print. Right subjects, right time, right art.
A few months later I saw some strangers on Twitter using this as an example that I’m a terrible artist and haven’t improved and I’m like…it’s my best-selling print. A bonafide hit. I’m choosing to listen to the people who put their hard-earned money towards supporting this piece and not to the folks who are blaming me for their own emotional states.
Become a famous artist and you too can have complete strangers hate you! And far more wonderful people supporting you and your work!
WWE hadn’t asked me to make anything specific since WM32, but for what’s possibly the last Axxess at WM38 in Dallas they asked me to first make a “bad ass painting of The Undertaker” since he was going into the Hall of Fame. Then Triple H personally asked me to also do a painting of Scott ‘Razor Ramon’ Hall there, so that we were doing something big for him at Axxess. I knew we were pulling crazy hours so I’d have the time, and I wanted to not let Hunter down so I of course said yes. I’m super proud of both paintings and the prints of them have been huge sellers, especially Razor. I’m told WWE gifted that painting to Kevin Nash, which is wonderful.
With last year’s R.O.B. Squad: Katy, Gene and Andy! They told me ‘R.O.B’ stood for, “Rob, Order Burritos!” So I did.
For all I know, that could have ended up being my last time painting live at WrestleMania. I don’t think so, but nothing’s guaranteed in life. Hell, around WrestleMania I’ve been t-boned by a semi (10 years ago this week!), been doxxed, had credible threats against me and my wife, and along with everyone else figured out how to exist during a global pandemic.
I’ve survived and thrived through all of those events, built my business, and built a relationship through my art with people like you around the world. It bums me out hardcore to not be at WrestleMania this year, and the events around that will get their own chapter in my memoir some day, but I’ve been through a lot of other very hard things related to doing these shows. They’re herculean efforts unto themselves, and I made it through those so I can make it through this, too.
With your help, naturally. Having you there with me makes this all worth doing.
My painting of Cody Rhodes vs Roman Reigns at this year’s WrestleMania 39 debuts this Sunday. I didn’t get to make it in front of anyone other than my cats, but I’m excited to share it with you all the same! Korma and Kima liked it and they think you will, too.
We’ve accomplished a lot together, you and I, and we have so much more yet to do.
And we will.
Love you more,