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August 17, 2015

Meet a Community Art Star: Robert MacKie

"Meet a Community Art Star" is a regular feature showcasing ArtStarts' amazing group of volunteers who are passionate, enthusiastic arts champions. Read more posts in this series.

Robert MacKie is a people-person and a person of the arts. Within those two spheres, his interests have been wide and varied. He always had a great interest in visual arts such as pottery, painting and drawing, as well as new media arts including computer animation, video games and installation art. Combined with his love of people, performing arts like music, opera and acting are close to his heart. All of his interests have led him to focusing on the design process and the impact art has on people and our society.

Robert has been working with ArtStarts as a Knowledge Philanthropist. This term, coined by Omar Ladak, refers to a person who volunteers primarily with their head, by contributing what they know. At ArtStarts we engage Knowledge Philanthropists as project-based volunteers who contribute their specialized, professional skills.

When did art start for you?

Art first started for me in Elementary school. In my early to mid Elementary years, there were several projects that provided me the opportunity to write a story and read it aloud. My focus was on writing fantastical stories that were comedic in nature — usually something absurd. I did everything — from creating a concept character to writing the story, to illustrating a few pictures to go with it. I also really loved reading the story back to the class. That immediate gratification of the audience's reaction, seeing the joy it brought them and sparking their imagination of other possibilities was intoxicating.

What drew you to become a Knowledge Philanthropist at ArtStarts?

I've admired ArtStarts for a long time from afar. The gallery is in my neighborhood, so I would stop in every now and then to see the work created by youth. I'm always amazed at the lack of inhibitions youth have when it comes to their imagination. One day I decided to take things a step further by offering my volunteer time to ArtStarts.

What have you been working on at ArtStarts?

I've been providing consultation to the amazing crew at ArtStarts on projects to improve the user experience and engagement of the gallery space. Our current project is to take the current guestbook signing experience and transform it into something more inviting, creative and impactful. ArtStarts is looking for their guests to leave richer feedback in forms that are reflective of their artistic and creative approach. 

What do you do as a career?

Professionally, I am an User Experience/Interaction Designer. Being such a new field, the title is often interchangeable. It is a field focused on creating products and services through a design process that focuses on people. I was greatly inspired by the capacity to use this design approach in order to make people's lives better. Now, that I am well into the field, I am on a journey to to discover how I can help people more directly and bring the creativity and expression of the arts along with it.

Who is your role model and why? 

My partner — he is a great source of inspiration for me. I have always considered myself to be a self-aware individual and I thought I had attained this through my driven, active and motivated nature. My partner, on the other hand, has a very different approach. He is far more calm, focused and mindful of himself and others. His razor sharp focus and progressive approach has kept him well on his path. I have so much to learn from him.  

Thanks to Robert for dedicating your time, talent and passion to our organization! Stay tuned for more news about when the new visitor feedback/interaction station will be launched, so you can come try it out yourself.

Connect with Robert via his website,

If you are interested in volunteering with ArtStarts, please visit

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