Illustrator and artistic visionary Clay Rodery straddles the creative line between comic book fantasy and popular culture to tell fully immersive narratives that captivate his fans. Clay is best known for his character portraits, and his artwork ranges from traditional illustrations to complex GIFs of scenes from pop culture films. Although primarily a creator of beautiful static imagery, his diverse creative abilities are conveyed in his animated work, “Life Is Elsewhere,” and GIFs, including those he created in partnership with 360i and HISTORY for Vikings’ Hashtag Raids.
360i: How did your blog take off and what made you realize you could create content for a living?
CR: My blog started as just a tool I was using to keep track of things that inspired me. The functionality impressed me so I turned it into an annex for my main site. I actually started getting calls because of the things I had posted, so making a living off of just posting my pictures immediately seemed viable.
360i: What kind of content do your fans react to best? What’s the secret to keeping them constantly engaged?
CR: They definitely like stuff that moves – things with style. My secret is to just keep pumping out good, considerate pictures. My work based on particular fandoms has been a massive contributor to the growth of my fan base.
360i: What do you like best about blogging on Tumblr?
CR: The ability to share multiple high-quality images in one post and also to be able to talk about them in further discussion if desired.
360i: Are there any Influencers you look to for inspiration or just admire – whether it’s the content they create or how they’ve built their careers?
CR: I’m hugely inspired by Dario Russo and David Ashby, the filmmakers who created Italian Spiderman and Danger 5. They’re basically doing exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have a big interest in breaking into fashion illustration in some capacity and so I’m really inspired by fashion bloggers like Steven Onoja and Mustafa Kacar, too.
360i: What sorts of criteria do you consider when evaluating brand partnerships?
CR: Authenticity is big for me. Not just that brands be sincere about their work, but that the sincerity and consideration for what they provide inspires me to reciprocate back. When mutual trust is established, great things happen.
360i: What kinds of work are you hoping to do in the future?
CR: I would love to be sent on assignment to draw on-site for something that’s being reported on. I want to use journalistic illustration to be able to provide something even more tangible than a photograph.
360i: Most of your work has a darkness to it and you’ve been quoted as saying, “I illustrate things with a neo-noir bent and have a profound taste for the bizarre, time/space travel and nocturnal crime-fighters.” What made you lean towards this type of illustration and how does this make you unique?
CR: Well, the space bit comes from where I grew up, which was just down the street from Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. NASA was a huge influence on our part of town. As for everything else, I was raised on Hitchcock and Batman and that aesthetic is now in my bones.
360i: What do you need to get yourself into the zone before beginning an illustration?
CR: For larger projects, or projects that have a specific theme, I’ll make an inspirational playlist to listen to while I work. I also have to do extensive research on whatever I’m creating – it’s the perfectionist in me. Authenticity and verisimilitude are the name of my game.