Custom Guitar for Country Artist, Muscian Robert Mizzell

Sep 28, 2018My Art Work

My story with Emerald Guitars started in September 2016. Alistair, the owner of the company, messaged me wanting to know if I’d be interested in painting a guitar he was building for country music singer Robert Mizzell. I said “yeah sure I’d love to”, but as I’m more of a Seattle grunge person I have no clue about Irish country music, no offence meant to Robert or Alistair.

So I googled Robert Mizzell to see who he was. He seemed impressive but still not sure I rang my girlfriend as I knew she liked country music. Her excitement as I told her the news made me think this would be a good project. I mean, I was getting to custom paint a fancy guitar; that was exciting enough to me, but the fact it was for such a prominent musician made it even better.

The project stalled for a couple months as the guitar was built and then in December, after I’d waited eagerly on the postal delivery company Fast Way, a large box arrived which held the guitar in its case. I was so excited to open it up and get started. Inside was an Emerald X20 model carbon fibre guitar. I’d never seen a carbon fibre guitar before so I took some time to look at it properly and think about how I would approach the painting of it. It was a super impressive piece of work.

Roberts vision for the guitar was for it have an old, beat up American flag wrapped around it. That sounded like a cool plan so I had been researching reference material but I couldn’t really find anything online I liked or thought was good enough. I figured I would have to create my own art reference image for it until I realised Anna, my partner, happened to have an actual American flag from her days working in Arizona. With this I had what I needed and so the painting project began.

I hadn’t painted on anything but canvas for a while so the idea of painting such an important guitar was very exciting. Alistair had sent a jig down with the guitar to hold it in place while being painted. It allowed the instrument to be rotated 360°. I built my own jig to have for future projects as it’s a handy bit of kit to have in the studio.

It was a slow start as I didn’t want to mess it up. I probably was a little too careful triple checking everything before laying down paint but that’s the perfectionist in me. The end results were great. I was really happy with the paint job but still a bit nervous when it came time to return it to Emerald Guitars for finishing/lacquering and delivering to its famous owner.

The guitar headed back to Donegal shortly before Christmas so the festive season came and went and I kinda forgot about the guitar as I’d been busy with family, friends and other art work.

New projects had arrived into the studio and I was painting for ‘The Heart of the Matter’, an upcoming exhibition in the Backstage Theatre on February 8th. It was almost the end of January when I got a message from Alistair along with a YouTube link to Emeralds Channel. I clicked the link and up came a video of Alistair presenting the guitar I had painted to Robert Mizzell. Watching the unveiling and presentation of the guitar was really cool. Robert’s reaction to seeing the artwork for the first time was also cool as he was very impressed with the work. I was nervous, hoping he would be happy but he said it was exactly, if not more, than he was expecting.

I was very proud of the work so I felt a mixture of relief and gratification that he and the team at Emerald were so happy with the piece as well. Through painting the guitar I got to know who Robert Mizzell was and how big a star he is in the Irish country music scene. He’s also a gentleman and I hope to work with him again soon on the painting of his Harley Davidson motorbike. That will be awesome if it comes to fruition!

It was an honour and a privilege to paint a guitar for both Robert and Alistair. My collaborations with Emerald Guitars have progressed to seeing me paint several more fantastic instruments for clients around the world, articles to follow soon. Many of them are in the U.S as well as Hong Kong and Ireland.

The current guitar i am working on, will have a Lord of the Rings inspired artwork, it will be heading to Italy when it’s finished. As a lover of music it’s a cool feeling knowing that musical instruments I have painted are being played in various corners of the globe and appearing in magazine and newspaper articles.

It inspires me to continue perfecting my craft. If you think you might like to have work done on a guitar you own or indeed another instrument then please feel free to get in touch so we can discuss your project idea.


Written by Keith O Brien


  1. Siobhan

    Brilliant guy brilliant artist. Keep up the good work x

  2. Caitriona

    Brilliant 1st Blog Phil..

  3. David R

    Gosh I would love to have the same one. Our flag hangs from my Moonshine Stiill custom mic stand. Snd my bands theme has always been about the Stars and Stripes. It’s a beautiful piece

  4. David R.

    Wow not only do I want one just like it, but September 28th is my birthday….


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