When Robert McClintock first pursued art, he was realistic. "I was a good photographer, but not the greatest."
Then one day, he was playing around in Photoshop and started to digitally paint on top of his photographs. "I realized I could develop my own exclusive style," he says.
That style—which he calls "photo-digital illustration"—has since taken off: McClintock has been creating scenes of Baltimore for more than a decade now. More recently, he's been driving around a Mini Cooper adorned with his art, and his products are now available in Target stores.
"I make no bones about it—I'm a promoter," he says. "What motivates me is selling my work and making people happy."
McClintock started out in Washington, D.C. selling photo-illustrations of monuments and nightlife spots. But when he began working in Baltimore, he realized this was the market he needed.
"I found that Baltimore really loved itself," he says. "I do familiar scenes, taken from the street level, so you look at a picture, and you know exactly where you are."
Soon after, McClintock opened a storefront in Federal Hill where he stayed for four years until moving to Fells Point. He continued to depict local street scenes, as well as portraits of dogs.
"My first dog I painted was a Jack Russell terrier," he says. "But it really took off. People thought it looked like their dog. Again, I wanted to create that familiarity."
His dog portraits have gotten so big that prints are now available at Target. The four most popular breeds (golden retriever, chocolate Lab, Maltese, and Shih Tzu) have given him national, mass-market appeal.
And as for that Mini Cooper? The car is wrapped in vinyl and displays his artwork.
The side is the Baltimore skyline from Federal Hill, the back is the Domino Sugars sign, and on the hood is O'Donnell Street with the Natty Boh sign. "I'm not afraid to do a little advertising and grandstanding to get people's attention," he admits.
And his method seems to be working.
"I was an artist my entire life, but couldn't sell anything for the first 40 years," he says. "I finally came up with something that works."