Hey Rod and welcome to SixCrayons thanks for taking some time out to talk with us about your work and your new Book.
You’ve been illustrating for a fair while now, is it something you always knew you wanted to do for a living, or was it just something you found yourself doing?
I went to art college with the aspiration to be an Illustrator, but I really didn’t consider art as a career until I was 17. Originally I was planning on pursuing biochemistry & horticulture, & was studying towards that. I was studying art just for fun. But the realisation grew on me that I wasn’t really enjoying studying the sciences any more & as I spent all my time drawing, art college beckoned.
After college I pretty much started immediately working on getting my portfolio together & trying to get commissions, though it took a while to get regular work.
You have a very recognizable style — some of the guys here at SixCrayons have described it as a vectorized eboy style — how would you describe it yourself?
Drawing based, retro tinged, detailed character filled landscapes inspired by contemporary culture kind of fits I think. I often get mentioned as being pixel art because of the isometric perspective of lots of my work, even though it’s all vector based.
I think it’s important to indulge your personal interests in your work & create your own unique voice, as that is what will set you apart from everyone else.
Your work is seen across a whole range of industries. Do you remember who your first paying client was and what the job spec was?
My first published paying commission for an editorial illustration for the women’s erotic magazine For Women. It was for a short fiction story about a woman having an erotic encounter with the spirit of the Cerne Abbas Giant (the chalk giant in Dorset)! Things could only get better after that.
But I’ve always made money from my art. While at school I’d paint rock & heavy metal designs on peoples leather jackets. And at college & after I graduated I would do murals for various venues. So I was used to the idea I could actually make money from what I did.
For your latest book, “Where’s Stig”, were you approached by the BBC or was it your idea?
I have worked on & off for years for Top Gear magazine. Last year the the Top Gear team asked me to create “an unrealistic cartoon simulation” of the Top Gear studio for the Big Book of Top Gear 2009. When I completed that, it got them thinking that we could expand the style into a whole book, so the idea of Where’s Stig? was born.
I was immediately interested in the concept & the challenge of creating such a book as there’s such a wealth of visual material from the show.
It’s been a challenging & creatively rewarding project, & great to solely concentrate on one huge project for so long. It’s in the shops now.
When you were younger were you as good as us at finding all the Wallys, and do you think you’d be even better having completed this book?
Actually I never owned a Where’s Wally? book until I started working on Where’s Stig? Thought I’d better buy a copy to see what it was about.
You seem to be at the pinnacle of your career right now. Where do you see your work taking you in the next 10 years?
Further books are already on the cards. I also want to do more large scale installations as I enjoy the challenge of working at a large size. My work being vector based it lends it’s self to interactive & motion graphics, & I’m increasingly being asked to work in this area. A long term aim to to work in film & animation when I find the time. But really anything that challenges me creatively & enables my work to be seen in new mediums.
Thanks again Rod for the interview and good luck with your new book. Finally, congratulations on your recent election as chairman of the AOI! As head honcho, what is the best advice you can give to a young illustrator looking to further their professional career?
Thanks. I feel greatly honoured to be elected as the new Chairman of the AOI, a hugely important role for the Association and for British illustration.
First off, get out there and get your work seen by as many people as possible. You should never be afraid to show people your work. You maybe the best designer/illustrator in the world, but if no one sees your work, you won’t get commissioned
Perseverance. It can take quite some time to get your creative career really established.
I’d recommend joining the UK Association of Illustrators (AOI). They’re constantly campaigning to protect all illustrator’s rights, and if you need advice on pricing commissions, contracts, promotion, etc, it really pays to get help from the experts.
Maintain control over your Copyright in your Illustrations. There are very few occasions that clients need to own the Copyright in your work. Your body of work is your livelihood, and you should be entitled to the financial benefits of your talent and hard work.
Check out more of Rod’s work and follow him on Twitter.