After high school, it also proved difficult to find a suitable animation course and Rove eventually found himself at art school, majoring in painting and sculpture.
“I wasn’t necessarily playing to my strengths,” Rove says. “But I got a lot out of it and my mum got a lot of ugly sculptures to litter her vegetable garden with.”
In Rove’s third year at art school, however, fate arrived. A friend roped Rove into writing and performing for a university revue, and he started doing stand-up.
“You do that first performance and you get a crowd of people laughing at you and it kind of gets in your blood.”
Rove didn’t stop drawing, but it just sat on the backburner until 2018, when Scholastic book publishers came knocking. Would Rove be interested in writing a children’s book?
“I have a feeling that when a person with a certain profile has a child, the people at Scholastic circle a date in the calendar and say ‘we’ll come back to them in three to five years, which is right when you’re smack bang in the middle of reading to your child every night,” says Rove, whose daughter, Ruby, would have been about five in 2018.
The publisher didn’t know Rove could draw and when he showed up not just with stories but also drawings of the characters, they bought the rights to two of them pretty much on the spot. His first children’s book, Disgusting McGrossface, was published last September and the first of a planned series of Rocky Lobstar adventures hit the shelves in October.
This year, Rove is coming at art from an interesting new angle as host of Life Drawing Live, a novel, one-off SBS TV program that will be like a nationwide life drawing class with a twist.
“It was the right idea at the right time,” Rove says of the opportunity. “It’s where my head’s at, too, creatively. It’s one of those perfect-fit ideas.”
The show will bring together life models (yes, they’ll be naked), some life-drawing experts to provide advice and a group of amateur artists, including some well-known faces not known for their art skills, such as cook Adam Liaw. They’ll all be in the studio together, a COVID-safe minimum of 1.5 metres apart, and viewers at home will be invited to draw along in real time. A ‘pose cam’ will provide an uninterrupted stream of the models for viewers at home.
Rove says he’d especially encourage anyone who perhaps hasn’t picked up a pencil since childhood to have a go. “It’s a great way to step into it,” he says. He also stresses that the experience will be entertaining.
“It won’t be like one of those SBS Slow TV things with you just watching people draw for two hours, he says. “No offence, I mean who didn’t want to just feel like they were on the Ghan for a week? It will be entertaining and it’s on SBS so, guaranteed nudity.”
Rove is also looking forward to seeing the work of the famous faces on the show, and how everyone goes with drawing feet – “I’m terrible at drawing feet” – and penises, a zone Rove has never been entirely comfortable to tackle with a pencil, even during his years at art school.
“I just used to draw a little sort of Ken doll mound,” he says.
Life Drawing Live, Saturday July 4, 8.30pm, SBS.
See sbs.com.au/lifedrawinglive for more information.
Lissa Christopher has more years’ experience as an editor and writer with The Sydney Morning Herald than she cares to count, and is now a print and digital producer for Traveller. She’s a glamper not a camper and wherever she travels she likes to start eating as soon as possible after making it through passport control.