Mon 29 Mar 2010 by Belen
Rod gave a clear sighted and professional talk which consisted of three parts.
Firstly, he talked about his own career. Rod began illustrating using traditional means, acrylic paints. A move to London from Nottingham for work purposes resulted in a difficult early start, but Rod stuck with it and the work started coming in. This was mainly editorial work for trade, finance and computer magazines. Rod found the work wasn't that well paid and often not very interesting. He had a rethink, ditched the acrylics and bought a Mac.
At the same time, he started making cartoon type models for animation purposes. Gary Philips of The Observer liked them and commissioned Rod to make models of real life people such as the then Chancellor Gordon Brown. Although this new 3D venture in illustration took off and led to more interesting work such as the FHM, Shoot Outs feature, Rod was still not convinced this was the right road for him.
Another rethink followed and Rod began to experiment with Illustrator.
He also made a conscious decision to aim for the clients he was interested in working with. Although drawing detailed images with a mouse, Rod seems to have quickly mastered a new process. Work for Maxim, More and SFX followed. A regular spot for FHM, The Pub Crawl Guides, meant lots of reference research on Google. This has been indispensible for his map type illustrations, which are densely packed with information and imagery.
A cover for Change the World for a £5, led to more environmental type work. Rod spoke about the frustrations of certain jobs but also of the satisfaction and good working relationships with others, such as the interactive installation for the Light Box Museum and Gallery in Woking.
Rod's map work has also featured online for the company 1st Byte.
A long term client and successful project has been Rod's work with the BBC's Top Gear programme.
The book, Where's Stig?, was born out of this and Rod was most impressive when talking about how he managed to keep the copyright for this work. Rod's approach is essential in making sure the illustration profession is taken seriously and he is prepared to know his worth and stand his ground. It has really paid off as he is writing and illustrating, Where's Stig?, The World Tour.
Rod also emphasized the need to keep evolving as an illustrator and to set your sights high.
The second part of Rod's talk was about self promotion,
Sell yourself as a premium product,
Send out cards regularly to clients
Successful business market
Build your profile using the internet, (website, blog, Twitter etc)
Use Design and Networking Sites, ( Behance, Coroflot, Concrete Hermit)
Commercial portfolio sites
Design blogs, portals and inspiration sites, (Little ChimpsSociety, Illustration Mundo, Sugar Frosted Goodness)
Send out email letters
Finally, Rod spoke of his involvement with AOI, what it has to offer members, and the significant changes it has made in recent times. As a freelance illustrator with no agent, Rod confirmed how important the organisation has been in helping him with the contractual and copyright mine field that can be the illustrators lot.
Rod's all round comprehensive talk was interesting and informative and we thank him for sharing his expertise and working practice with us.
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