Case Study: Take a Trip Down Pop Culture Nostalgia with Ego Rodriguez
How Ego Rodriguez
cultivated a strong
brand identity using
“Don’t try hard to be what you are not. It’s not about impressing the rest.” That’s artist Ego Rodriguez’s wise philosophy when it comes to creating his bold art. And while he may not be setting out purely to “impress the rest”, with a style that’s been described as “Tom of Finland meets Warhol”, his work certainly does impress. This Spain-born, London-living artist has had his work showcased in magazines like The Advocate and Gay Times and featured in art shows in London and Pride events worldwide. We talked to Ego Rodriguez all about how he got his start, how he learned to create his realistic portrait-style art, and how Artist Shops has helped him to create a standout brand featuring his iconic artwork.
All Over prints from the Ego Rodriguez Artist Shop
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a freelance illustrator based in London, UK. I’ve been always drawing since I was a kid but only moved it from being a side project to a full-time job in the last years.
Ego Rodriguez himself (via Instagram).
"Having an Artist Shop under my name instead of on a website with a bunch of other people helps my brand have a sense of individuality."
I love the pop culture emphasis your work has – what kinds of movies and shows are you inspired by?
I was born in the ‘70s, raised on the ‘80s, and a teen on the ‘90s. I’d been exposed to and absorbed lots of cinema and pop culture that it’s having a comeback now. Since I was a kid, I was a fan of horror, fantasy, adventure, camp, and everything that combines that. From Frankenstein to Cabaret, Gremlins to Hellraiser, Priscilla, Little Shop of Horrors, Ed Wood, Beetlegeuse, Batman, you name it.
How did you get started in the illustration business?
It was natural for me to sketch people since an early age. At some point, it created an interest and I got requests and job offers. Then, I decided to organize the whole idea and think of it more under a business approach. Create products, market a brand, and work on a clear style that defined that brand. It’s my style that makes me recognizable and appealing to different companies and publications I have worked with. I can do something with a swimwear brand but also a men’s grooming brand.
" Brando & Dean" design
You’ve worked with some huge magazines and brands – how did you first start marketing your art when you were first getting started? What have been some of your favorite projects so far?
It has been a natural path of growth. My social media presence has been my main fuel and business card. Brands, companies, clients approached me because they have seen my work online, so in that sense, it’s very organic. I’ve never needed an agent or someone to get me going. I’d been pretty lucky with clients; I think there’s always an instinctive communication and ideas came as conceived. My last work for The Advocate drawing LGBTQ+ athletes was really fun to do and I love the final result.
"My illustrations are created for the purpose of being worn and owned. For me, merchandise is an extension of my work with its own identity. "
What are some of your favorite products to sell in your Artist Shop?
My brand revolves around pop imagery and products are the perfect platform for pop iconography. My fans love the possibility to have more than a simple top or a tote bag with the product opportunities that Artist Shops gives me. The all over tops are the most successful ones. People love those and the response worldwide is amazing. They always get attention. I love how many people send me photos of my products they saw on someone, somewhere. It really creates a sense of community and kinship.
" Who's That Girl?" design
Who are some of your inspirations and influences as an artist?
I love artists like Gruau, Leyendecker & Antonio Lopez. Avedon, Newton, Horst, Pierre & Gilles. McQueen, Mugler & Gaultier. Music gives me inspiration and I listen to so many different styles of music from ‘80s pop, ‘90s grunge to old-school house, opera or German electronica…everything has its time. Movies are always inspiring.
College via Instagram.
How has Artist Shops saved you time as an artist?
When it comes to having merchandise, not having to manage stock is really helpful. With Artist Shops, I have the capability to offer a wide selection of merchandise under the same location. There is no need to organize, control, store any goods, or handle any of the packing and shipping.
Shoes from the Ego Rodriguez Artist Shop
"Threadless Artist Shops gives me a sense of trust and confidence when it comes to quality, garments, and customer service."
What’s your artistic philosophy?
Don’t try hard to be what you are not. It’s not about impressing the rest but learn from what you do.