I attended a talk by Rob Draper at the University of Birmingham that I had been looking forward to for months. I had already previously been in contact with Rob via email regarding his work and he had been very friendly and helpful, so it was good to see that he comes across the same way in person.
Rob's story took a few twists and turns along the way. He has been presented with various challenges in life. He had several times where he felt he had reached a comfortable high point in his life, only to be dealt set backs that put him back below square one; but it was his determination to do something creative, using what he had to hand that allowed him to continue on the path to where he is now.
Rob shared how he had worked out of coffee shops and libraries, when he had no other space to work form. He had even begun shooting videos of his process using a cheap portable tripod with a selfie stick zip tied to it. Rob pushed himself to create something every day, and found himself drawing on envelopes and scraps of paper exploring contrast and drawing detailed pictures of birds.
This urge to create something from nothing, and working in coffee shops lead to his coffee cup project, which began as something he would just do for fun, and then became something that he decided to treat as if it were a paid client project. Eventually his work on the coffee cups was recognised by the national press, thanks in no small part to the content he had been sharing on Instagram.
Rob has created the ident for the Golden Globes for the last three years, and he explained how on the first year he had been sending the files across to Hollywood at his Mum's house, with his laptop right next to the router, with strict instructions that no-one was allowed to used anything that used the internet, so he could get the fastest bandwidth. It is stories like this that go to show that working with very large clients is not beyond the realms of possibility for a freelance artist who has no fixed office, and could even be feasible for a student or someone starting out to achieve providing that their work is of the right kind of standard.
It was nice talking to Rob after the event too, he is really approachable and willing to help which was nice. I've heard of people meeting those who inspire them and being underwhelmed, but Rob is a genuinely nice guy, with some great advice.
I have been in contact with Rob since the talk, and he has kindly agreed to be interviewed for my 'What's on your bookshelf?' series, so watch this space.