Alumni Stories

The Clayton Brothers

Rob Clayton
Illustration, 1988

Christian Clayton
Illustration, 1991

The Clayton brothers are Rob and Christian Clayton, who have been collaborating since 1996 on paintings and installations which entwine their styles and palettes. Rob, born in 1963, and Christian, born in 1967, both graduated from ArtCenter’s Illustration Department with honors and have returned to teach as part of the full-time faculty. In 2015 Christian received the Great Teacher Award from the student body.


The Clayton brothers use an unconventional process in which one contributes mixed media while adapting, transforming and reworking what the other has completed. They seldom work on the same canvas at the same time. By leaving visual messages for each other, strands of ideas allow them to elaborate upon the work—an organic flow of subverted content that is finalized only by consensus. This highly personal system results in dynamic work filled with gestures, techniques, symbols and metaphors that delve into memory and the subconscious.

Working from their storefront studio in La Crescenta, California, the Clayton brothers draw inspiration from their environment, incorporating local businesses, neighborhood regulars and snippets of overheard conversations as subjects for their paintings. Composing pieces in conjunction, motifs, gestures, places and figures reoccur, creating interlinked dramatic scripts across separate works. Approaching painting as a visual representation of pure energy, everyday scenes explode in vortexes of blinding color, animated movement and product placement, giving the effect of revealing every frame of a film simultaneously.

The Clayton brothers’ work has been exhibited across the globe—Nuremberg, Bologna, Seoul, Amsterdam, Paris, Switzerland, Basel, Copenhagen and others—and appears in the public collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles; Sweeney Art Gallery, Riverside, California; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin; Fondation Salomon, France; Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, California; and Saatchi Gallery, London.

Their art has been selected for numerous publications, including American Illustration, Communication Arts, Juxtapoz and Zoetrope, and they have lectured widely across the United States. Rob and Christian’s first monograph, The Most Special Day of My Life, was published in 2003 by La Luz de Jesus Press and Last Gasp.

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