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10 Questions with Jim Cobb - Founder, Owner and Chief Paint Inventor of Chroma Australia. 

Atelier Acrylics.  Do yourself a favour.

G'day, it's Frankie here.  I recently had the extreme privilege and pleasure of interviewing the legendary Jim Cobb, the man behind Chroma Australia and your favourite paints such as Atelier Interactive, Atelier Free Flow, Jo Sonja and Archival Oils.  Mark and Jim have a long history and friendship, and whenever we do a workshop in Sydney we make a point of visiting the Chroma paint factory, where all your painty dreams really do come true :) 

Q: What made you decide that you wanted to create a paint company? 

Nothing really, I just happened to be an art teacher in a high school at the beginning of the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme which required a better quality paint.  I was making paint for the kids in the school and my girlfriend at that time was a bit more commercially savvy than I was and thought there might be a business opportunity. 

Q:  How does a painter become a chemist?  Or, how does a chemist become a painter?  Which one came first?  Is that like the chicken and the egg?

I think this is a very interesting question, and really is the corner stone as it were, of my career, because I am not a paint chemist.  I think paint chemists have a terrible disadvantage when they are trying to make artist paints, because they don’t know what artists want.  You might think that the answer is a simple thing like filling in a questionnaire, but when you think about it paint is a very elusive material - and so it is very hard for a marketing department to tell the person wearing the white apron out the back how to make a better artists paint.  It is much better to come from the other direction of being an artist yourself, and having a curiosity about chemicals that might make a better artists paint.

Q:  What's it like having all this paint at your disposal now?  Are you like the kid who grew up in the chocolate shop?

You might think that I would be slapping paint around like Ben Quilty and point of fact I am not as courageous in that direction, so I am not a huge consumer of my own paint even when I do have time to paint (which isn’t often these days).  When you look at how Ben Quilty uses paint I don’t think we could afford him as a paint maker!

Q: Do you have enough time to paint these days?

No I do not have enough time to paint but I am trying to rectify my unfortunate lifestyle where I spend most of my time checking out the paint that we make, rather than painting with it.

Q:  Are you constantly inventing new paints in your head, and in the real world?

I am constantly inventing new paints.

Q:  What is your favourite product or invention?  Can you even have a "favourite child?" 

Atelier Free Flow.  Gorgeousness.

It is a bit like the situation with real children.  I don’t really have a favourite but you are right in thinking a person who invents paint does have a strong protective feeling towards them.

Q:  What has it been like watching your company grow and develop over the last 50 years? 

It’s been a heck of a lot of hard work emotionally and physically to get to this place.  It would be nice to see it reach its full potential, particularly in America.

Q:  What has been your proudest moment in life? 

Maybe it hasn’t happened yet.

Q: What are your goals for Chroma for the next 5 years? 

To see continued growth in our little Aussie company, and show the world just how fantastic our products are.  They hold their own and are better than any other paints in the world (in my opinion).

Q:  Tell us something no one knows about you.

I think I should preserve an aura of mystery by not answering this question. 

Thanks so much to Jim and the team at Chroma Australia for all your amazing work.  We love your paints!  And Thanks so much to Jim for taking the time to chat with me today.  

You can follow Chroma Paints at:

or the new website at:

and to subscribe to the Youtube channel, click here.

Jim Cobb, Frankie Sharman and Mark Waller at Chroma HQ Sydney November 2015

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