Bot Roda on “Making it as an illustrator”…

I spoke with illustrator Bot Roda about how he got his start in illustration, how he keeps his name out there and the best way for a designer to work with an illustrator.

Bot Roda’s love of drawing and illustration comes through in his work, and work has been coming through for him for 30 years.  He built his confidence in Lancaster, PA at a local agency, and then following advice from his father, he realized “they’re not going to find me here [in Lancaster County, PA]…I’ll have to go there [New York].”  Standing on a New York city street he called the Art Director at Field & Stream who told Roda to come up, he had 10 minutes for him. From there Roda began doing spot illustrations and then got the cover for Field & Stream.

Bot then made the move to artist reps in New York and PA.  This led to new relationships and new clients, some of whom have worked with him for years. Bot continues to market himself regularly.  For his latest marketing effort, he researched ad agencies, ad clubs and agency websites and culled 100 email addresses of key contacts or general mailboxes of his target market.  He sent a 10 page pdf of his illustration samples and plans to follow-up.

Graphic designers and Art Directors call illustrators because the decision has been made that the visual solution should be an illustration. After the initial contact is made they agree to terms and a budget. Bot usually works with a graphic designer or art director who directs the illustration – the illustration might be a map, product illustration, or storyboard. They might also supply reference or “scrap” to work from for the illustration.

Bot credits his success to flexibility and his love of drawing and his work looks effortless, that is part of its appeal! It can be difficult to make it in the illustration field, but you can take these tips from Bot: Love what you do, build your confidence and market yourself.

Leave a comment about how you built your illustration career or ask a question.

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