Style

On Style: With Robert Langford

Charlotte artist Robert Langford, in a sport coat by Cellini, shirt by Toscano, Levi’s jeans and shoes from Banana Republic.
Charlotte artist Robert Langford, in a sport coat by Cellini, shirt by Toscano, Levi’s jeans and shoes from Banana Republic. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Artist Robert Langford grew up in an East Texas town called Longview. When he moved to Charlotte in 1996 he had a career in commercial real estate, and painted as a hobby. Now he paints for a living, a change that was encouraged by his wife, Velma. Using the ingenuity of a real estate agent, Langford began his current career sharing studio spaces with other artists in empty storefronts in SouthPark. Today he has his own studio at Morrison Place. In 2015 Langford entered into collaboration with Surya, which will feature six of his designs on their woolen hand-knotted rugs.

Q. What were your favorite things to wear when you were a kid?

A. I remember loving a pair of platform shoes. They disappeared. I have a feeling they went to a garage sale years ago. It was all about Britannica jeans and platform shoes and unbuttoned shirts. I remember in high school I had a job at a boutique called Program Four, and it was the only place you could get mod clothing.

Q. Can you define style?

A. To me it is a form of communication. Part of that is dictated by our environment, and we dress accordingly. But we make choices that we are comfortable with.

Q. How has your business career affected your current sense of style?

A. Now I feel freer to enjoy color. I still take my style seriously when I am meeting with people. I was taught years ago about first impressions. It’s important to me to at least give the impression that I am sensitive about what I wear.

Q. How does your sense of style help you do your job?

A. I can’t separate the two. I go into every painting with a general idea of where I want to go, but it evolves so much, and I put layers and layers on it, and then I begin to cover and expose different areas. That is similar to my style. I might have classic lines, a very conservative look and throw in a twist of color to keep things a little bit interesting.

Q. So your style is similar to your art…

A. Style is like having a blank canvas. Spill the paint on it and get it started. What should I cover and what should I reveal?

Q. How is your wardrobe affected by color?

A. I’ll choose a pocket square or a pair of socks, something that will give me a little bit of fun. I love blues and reds and purple. The old corporate days when they said ‘Wear a red tie,’ that stuck in my head. I actually had some pocket squares printed on silk. It’s where art and style meet.

Q. Tell me about your first pair of cowboy boots.

A. I got them in Lott, Texas. They were a pair of ropers, which are walking boots. These are Justin ostrich boots, and they are not designed for a whole lot of walking. I like to wear them with suits. They fit like a glove.

Q. What’s your painting uniform?

A. A pair of old holey jeans and a T-shirt and a pair of Pumas.

Q. What’s your selling uniform?

A. Levis and a nice dress shirt and a blazer.

Q. Where do you shop for shoes?

A. Banana Republic.

Q. I always splurge on…

A. Cologne. Now I’m wearing Yves Saint Laurent, La Nuit De L’Homme.

Q. Name a few artists whose work you admire.

A. I like the painter Joan Mitchell. I like Andrew Wyeth. I saw his Helga pictures at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and then I saw earlier paintings in Boston, and that just blew me away.

Q. Do you have a favorite museum?

A. The Musée d’Orsay in Paris. I walked out of there completely overwhelmed.

Q. Describe your look in three words.

A. Keep it simple.

Q. What’s your best bargain?

A. I bought a merlot wool blazer at Jilson’s Men’s Consignment. I like his collection of things, and it was $80 for a $300 blazer.

Q. Do you shop for souvenirs when you travel?

A. I got these cuff links at a little shop in the Thon Hotel in Brussels. I loved that they are hot and cold faucets, and I laugh about which sleeve I’m going to put them on.

Q. What vacation spot could you return to again and again?

A. Sailing the BVIs. It was part of a package where you have a captain and first mate and you sail with strangers. It was an absolute blast. You come back completely inspired. The blues are blue, the greens are green, and the sky is as clear as you can imagine.

Q. What’s your favorite comfort food?

A. Mexican. My favorite is Z’Tejas in Austin. I order miso-glazed salmon with a port wine reduction sauce.

Q. Where do you eat breakfast in Charlotte?

A. Terrace Café.

Q. Restaurant for a romantic dinner?

A. I like the Fig Tree.

Q. What’s on your iPod?

A. I recently put on some Avett Brothers, Don Henley’s new CD “Cass County,” and Mumford and Sons.

Q. Read anything good lately?

A. I just read “The Creative Habit,” by Twyla Tharp. Her methods of learning about her craft are something we all can embrace.

Q. Do you have a muse?

A. My muse is the interaction of people. That is what I am drawn to.

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