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Amateur drawer to book illustrator

Keelan Rodgers makes strides in his animation career as he collabrates Bradley faculty and students. Photo by Sam Mwakasisi.

There are countless paths at Bradley one can take to further their passions, and sophomore Keelan Rodgers recently found an opportunity to advance his art career in an unlikely place: an assignment from his COM 103 instructor.

An animation major with a passion for drawing, Rodgers illustrated two books that were released this past summer, one of which was written by his COM 103 instructor, Jan Frazier, after Frazier noticed his skills during his freshman year and one for Frazier’s friend, Dee Delmastro Shaub.

The work relationship between the two started with an ordinary assignment – and an extraordinary response.

“When [my COM 103 class] did [its] first speech … whoever had interviewed [Rodgers] had to have a visual,” Frazier, a Bradley communications professor, said. “They put up a picture that he had drawn, and it was amazing. Immediately, I knew that he was going to be the illustrator for a friend of mine who had some books. I then asked him to illustrate the cover of my book.”

The books that Rodgers worked on, Frazier’s young-adult novel “Danger in Disguise” and Shaub’s picture book “Shop- Town Tales: Volume 1,” are currently available on various large independent platforms, including Amazon.

Rodgers began drawing at the age of four, and his eye for art developed from watching various TV shows throughout his childhood and wanting to strengthen his skills in drawing.

“I’ve always drawn, and people would respond with positive feedback,” Rodgers said. “How much I wanted to improve motivated me to continue drawing.”

While he initially worked within his preference of anime, Rodgers has branched out to different styles of art, whether cartoon-like or realistic. This same multifaceted approach reflects on not being bound to one format of drawing.

“I like [digital and traditional drawing] equally,” Rodgers said. “Digital is convenient when it comes to time and getting stuff done quickly. Traditional is more so fun just to actually interact with the different [media] that I’m working with.”

While he made the cover art for Frazier’s book, he provided drawings for Shaub’s book. After following him through this process, Frazier has nothing but glowing words to describe his character both inside and outside of the classroom.

“Keelan is a really awesome young man,” Frazier said. “He is great in class, [but] to work with him on a one-to-one level was … totally awesome. I see him as becoming very successful. He’s on a start already, [and] he’s very, very talented.”

Rodgers currently accepts art commissions, most frequently portraits and plans to continue his craft and step into an animation career in his future.

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