Bob Ostrom is quite possibly one of the most prolific children’s book illustrators you’ll ever meet. He has been illustrating children’s books for more than 20 years and his award-winning art has been featured in almost 300 books, with no end in sight. So how did it all begin for this powerhouse illustration-dynamo of rock-star proportions?
Well, gentle reader, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses. Bob’s freelance career started out in the summer of ’89 when he was laid off from one of the sweetest full-time illustration gigs any artist could ever hope for. With no money in his pocket and nowhere to turn Bob made the best of a sink or swim situation. He dove headfirst into what would eventually become a lifelong career as a freelance artist* learning from the school of hard knocks.
(*Side note – You see kids, back in those days the term freelance artist wasn’t scoffed at the way it is today. It was actually a respected, all be it demanding, career choice).
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, there were very few resources for artists who chose to go it alone back then. Bob vowed that if one day he became successful he would share his knowledge with any artist who wanted to learn. Bob figured the best way to teach was not from a classroom or a book but from real life. The way he saw it, artists who had experienced the very best and the very worst the profession had to dish out made the best teachers. If he could help other artists avoid the many mistakes and pitfalls he’d been through then all would be right with the world. But how to reach the masses?… How indeed.
The idea swam around in Bob’s head for several years until eventually one day a new medium showed up. It was called podcasting and it offered the potential to reach millions. Suddenly Bob’s dream became a reality and he had his first podcast. The podcast struggled to gain a footing until co-host Chris Wilson joined the team. From there, things took off and the show eventually grew to become Answers for Freelancers, A4F for short. A4F continued to grow until eventually a shift in direction caused Bob and Chris to take a hard look at larger possibilities. Those possibilities and that shift in thinking eventually evolved into Creative Independence… but that’s a story for another day.
Want to check out Bob’s art? You can find him at http://BobOstrom.com
Want to learn from the master? You can take a class or sign up for an online personalized tutoring session at bobteachesart.com.
Chris is an illustrator and multimedia designer. Prior to his current gig for The Walt Disney Company as a salaried multimedia designer at ESPN, he was a freelance artist from 2000-2006, doing business as Aithene Multimedia. Chris started his career working for Funnybone Interactive (formerly part of what is currently known as Blizzard Entertainment) where he met both Bob and Ken and worked as a character animator and screen designer. After that, he worked as a web designer for Microcast.net, an online streaming company that met its fate at the hands of the dot-com crash of 2000.
Chris attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Design.