DotYeti had the privilege to interview one of the United Kingdom’s most influential and highly respected artists, Rob Draper!
Rob specializes in hand-lettering for branding and identity, editorial, large-scale works, retail, and apparel. His work range includes worldwide clients such as The Golden Globes, Nike, Gap, and Samsung just to name a few. He also does lectures about the professional practice of art and design for a wide variety of audiences.
In our interview with him, we asked him how his story unfolded from being a freelance designer to a professional who works with various prestigious clients.
Where it all started
Rob had a deep connection with art as he’s gone through a conventional design background. He took up art in college and started out in the industry as a junior designer. His passion and love for what he does led him to be promoted as a senior designer, and then a magazine designer. The last role he found himself in was an Art Director for a clothing company which was his absolute dream job.
But just like any designer, Rob also faced numerous challenges. One day the company had to move to the other side of the UK. Even though working there was his dream job, he couldn’t move with it. His family and his life were more important to him — this led him to leave the company.
“My life was where I was–where my house was and my family. And so I chose to leave the company at that point. This was about 5 years ago now and I thought to myself “Oh god what am I gonna do?” I felt lost, I did not want to start anything again. I felt like I’ve done all these roles and it sort of got me nowhere.”
Rob then decided to try something different—he started publishing his work online. He knew that the internet plays an important role in bringing people with the same goals, interests, and beliefs together. By posting his work online, he believes that this will give him opportunities to be known and loved for his own style.
“I’d realize that the internet can be a great shop window for what you do. In terms of you can create things, put them on the internet and people will see them. And it will connect you with other people and hopefully, people will see your work.”
His can-do attitude, motivation, and passion for what he does have always been influential. So much so that this resonated in his art! The emotions that his art was able to evoke from his audience are one of the reasons why the Golden Globes and Nike wanted to work with him.
The bumpy ride of freelancing
Freelancing is never easy. It’s unstable and considered an “extreme game” due to its crooked work demand.
“…you either have 3 jobs on and no time on or no jobs on and lots of time on your plate… Freelancing is a rollercoaster no matter what level you’re at.”
This helped Rob learn how to settle with it and be complacent with how things are going. He learned to enjoy the ride as it goes because, in freelancing, there really is no middle ground.
Working with the Golden Globes
Collaborating with the Golden Globes seemed easy for Rob because they handed a well-detailed brief during their meeting to give him an idea of what direction they wanted to go.
With these materials, Rob will then create at least 6-7 video variations for them to choose from. This collaboration meant that they are all on the same page to produce a spectacular video that is bound to go beyond the design. It is created to speak in levels that all the audience will be in awe and pure amazement which made Rob’s work a genius work of art.
Customers as we know them are different from one another. Their visions, concepts, and directions all vary from each output. Rob goes about this by starting off a bit loose and quite scattered before finally establishing the final outline.
“I think quite loose at the start. A lot of different directions, a lot of different concepts. And then you sort of assemble it. It’s very difficult because every customer is different.”
Going about the request through different approaches helps him engage with his clients. Their feedback and insight on his draft help him create a final piece that all of them are happy with.
Rob keeps himself motivated by keeping himself busy with his personal projects and client projects that push him to be better in what he does. He hopes to connect with his clients deeper by working on cool and creative projects and to get a gallery show together in the future.
“Personal projects are something that really pushes me, they really motivate me personally… There’s never a process wasted in working for yourself. Even if there’s no client, no brief, no money, or anything like that. Those don’t really matter. It’s never a waste of process because you develop something by the end of it.”
His work throughout the years of working as a successful artist has enabled him to freely express his journey. Personal projects hold a special place in Rob’s heart as these help him express his ideas and imagination clearly to his audience.
What inspires Rob
In this rollercoaster journey to success, the more improvement Rob gets, the more inspired he becomes. Not to mention that meeting people who are on the same boat helps him find a deeper and more personal relationship with each one as they resonate the same emotions. This helps him go to greater heights when it comes to his growth personally and as an artist.
“Probably what inspires me the most is progress. The more I follow this journey, the more elaborate the work becomes. And the more I connect with cool people and take on projects. That inspires me to keep pushing myself further.”
Designing BMX bikes has always been one of his dreams when he was younger—he was totally absorbed in the hip hop, rap, and breakdancing culture. Now that he was given a chance to design a range of bikes and projects with Nike, it has been a dream come true. He hopes that in the future, he would still be in the same field as where he is today.
Getting stuck in a creative rut is inevitable. Rob surpasses this by developing personal work.
“Develop personal work. Designers will often moan about the client, the brief, the money, or the timeframe. But actually, none of those things exist in what you would actually do. For me, when I started this journey and I had absolutely no work on. I had a website but nobody visited, nobody was emailing me. And so, developing personal projects would actually motivate me and keep me busy.”
Investing in his work and developing his background to connect with people in clients prepared him to complete the jobs that came efficiently and flawlessly.
“There’s a lot of jobs I do, a lot of personal projects I do that don’t work. They’re a mega disaster that I never put online. But I save them and I go back to them because there’s always something to be learned even with the projects that go slightly wrong. Keep it working, is probably the thing that I would say. Even if it feels pointless, even if it feels stupid, it’s never a waste of time. You’re always heading towards a goal. Wherever the goal is, you’re heading towards it.“
Having fun and improving in your skills is always the main goal since not every job is exciting, creative, and wonderful. Developing creative projects that makes you feel like it represents you and posting them on social media platforms like Facebook, or Instagram will help you connect with an audience that will value your work as much as you do.
To sum it up
Rob Draper has always and will always be an inspiration to young artists around the world. From freelancing to working for legendary events and companies, Rob’s story gives everyone hope that through discipline and hard work, you can achieve absolutely anything your heart desires.
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