BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

What are some of the things you love about living Uptown?

I love that it still feels like the city but it is so easy to escape into the woods. I also love the rent and the A train and the farmer’s market and the pastelitos for a buck and the 24-hour legit grocery store and the sounds from the park. I love that everyone who lives downtown thinks that this is the other side of the world because that will keep them down there.

What do you like about shooting Uptown?

So much of what I see in my neighborhood reminds me of old New York. It’s like a time-warp sometimes. People playing dominoes on the street. The Cloisters. The street vendors. Kids playing in fire hydrants. I know the fire department frowns on cracking open hydrants during the summer, but whenever I walk past one — or through one — the spray makes me feel good inside and out.

Besides the great blog and amazing pics, your writings really pack a punch. Is there any compilation of your work in book form on the horizon?

You are very kind. Thanks. I’m starting a novel. Finishing it and publishing it might take a while. I’m also collaborating with an artist in Los Angeles on a project that will marry his illustrations with some of my short stories. It has been a slow process but we can see the finish line. Soon, hopefully.

Short stories are my passion but there isn’t much of a market for it. I’m not sure why that is. Seems perfect for today’s digital attention spans. Of course, like most things on the Internet, nobody wants to pay for anything so maybe us writers are our own worst enemies. I accept donations.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I’ve never described myself as an artist. Even reading that word in your question makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s my background in journalism or some form of self-loathing. Artists need self-loathing, right? Okay, maybe I am an artist. Wow, writing that made me feel weird again.

What I often find myself doing with words and pictures is searching for something beautiful in things that most people think aren’t, or in something many people haven’t considered as being beautiful. I believe it’s all around us all the time if you open yourself up to it. I’ve seen some amazing rust, and dive-bar bathrooms are fascinating.

Even though I’ve heard my work described as dark, and I love exploring dark places, the exploration is usually for light. I know there are horrible things you can paint pretty. They interests me, too, but usually as contrast to what’s good. I think it’s important for my work and for myself to not let the bad cloud everything else that is wonderful, especially in the places you don’t normally look. Once you see it there, you’ll see it (almost) everywhere.

Is there anything else you would like our audience to know about you or your work?

I shoot all my photos with my phone. I also write and revise many of my stories on my phone when I’m not at home. I almost never use my phone as a phone.

Also this: I’m flattered anyone would care enough to read this. Thank you.


Website: www.robbtodd.com

Writing: www.robbtodd.com/writing

Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/robbtodd

Vimeo: vimeo.com/robbtodd

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/1952498-robb-todd

Check out previous Uptown Artist columns:

Paul Lomax

DJ Boy

Matthew Gallaway

Steven R. Hazlett


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  • xTx
    November 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I love Robb’s work and the ugly/pretty, hard/softness that he evokes in his writing. Despite it making him want to crawl out of his skin, he IS an artist, both in words and in his pictures. Reading him makes my life better, if even for a short moment.

  • photographyfree4all
    November 19, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I think the shots you get from your phone are amazing! I’m almost impressed to the point of heaving my camera out of the window in favor of my phone…it’s so much lighter. 🙂 Great job!

  • Robb Todd
    November 19, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Thank you both very much.

    The best thing about the new iPhone is the camera, and there are some pretty great apps for photography, as well.

  • tyvon bluesdale
    November 19, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Robb Todd needs to take his talents to the highest income brackets so I can live for free in his guest room.

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  • Dj Boy
    November 20, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Great work Robb, that picture of the little girl at the door is amazing! Keep doing your thing and good luck on your novel.

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  • Andreas
    December 14, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Like Dj Boy, I’m amazed by the photo of the little girl in yellow. What an incredible moment to capture.

    In an odd way, I can relate to Robb’s reaction to being called an artist, even though I’ve never been called an artist. Interesting how labels define us as people.