A lot of people who work in the arts have multiple jobs. Many people support their creative endeavours through completely unrelated work, and within the creative sphere there are people who cultivate several areas of interest. Actor/directors, writer/directors and even designer/directors are fairly frequent flyers, but Robert Boulton’s combination of roles is slightly more unusual: actor/photographer.
Rob is candid, pragmatic and honest about his jobs. Where others might feel torn between disciplines, Rob knows what he prefers:
“I enjoy acting more. Photography’s very fun but it’s quite solitary…You meet such a wide breadth of people, but it’s for very intensive, short periods of time and then the main body of my photography work is editing, so as soon as I’ve done the shooting I’m left alone…which is fine, and sometimes I enjoy the solitude, but it gets a bit tiresome.”
Rob’s frankness extends to what he takes most pride in: as a professional in any arena, it can be very valuable to have tangible proof of how much your work has developed. Rob has two clear examples of his own progress:
“Photography-wise…I started just doing headshots for friends, which is fun, then I started getting paid, then I set up a website…it’s still building, which is nice. Acting-wise it’d probably be Tumbling After* just ‘cause it’s the project I’ve spent the longest on, and it’s something I had to push myself physically for, which I hadn’t really done before. So yeah, those are probably the two that I’d be most proud of.”
*Rob performed the role of Peter in Tumbling After, the Edinburgh Fringe show I directed this year.
At twenty-four, Rob seems pretty young to have a successful business and a blossoming acting career under his belt. Having said that, Rob’s level-headed approach to all things professional means that he has learned to always build upon his momentum, which makes his career progression completely logical. Without wasting time on introspection or peer envy, Rob is using the extra time to make his mark on the world in all the ways that interest him. He is also very aware that progress means giving your all to every new scheme, otherwise you are only stagnating.
“I like to think that if I’m working on something at the time it’ll be the thing I’m most proud of, otherwise you’re just looking back thinking ‘gah, what I’m doing now isn’t as good as before’.”
A common problem for people who, like Rob, work in multiple disciplines is that sometimes it can be hard to prioritise. When we pursue more than one avenue at once, it can be tricky to navigate which task comes first, or which job opportunity would be best for us. Again, Rob circumnavigates this potential issue with his usual honesty and self-awareness:
“If I ever have to choose between things it goes: acting, photography, then other jobs. I’ve got my priorities sorted. And generally I’m quite a pragmatist, so if I want to do something but I can’t afford to, I’m going to choose something that means I can afford to do the next thing.”
It is well worth having a conversation with Rob about his professional life, his CVs (of which there are four) and his outlook on career options. Rob’s attitude is a perfect example of how pursuing what you want does not have to be limiting. Scary, difficult and often frustrating, yes: but not a limitation. What Rob’s multiple passions actually demonstrate is a very essential part of his personality.
“The things I’ve done that I’m most proud of…would probably be stuff I’ve done with family, like building a computer desk for my grandma. Or building my own. Stuff that’s building. Building is a big thing for me.”
It makes a lot of sense for Rob to enjoy building things: his work centres around creating something that will be tangible evidence of an achievement. His openness about what he wants from his professional life makes him very productive, and his attitude helps him to work well with people from all kinds of disciplines. It also makes him very accepting of other people’s idiosyncrasies, as this clip demonstrates:
You can see examples of Rob’s brilliant photography here.
Next time: Amy Molloy