Spotlight on Kustom Artist Rodino R. Bautista
My name is Rodino R. Bautista. Raised in San Jose, California, I started my custom work at the age of 12. I started selling my artwork at 15. I entered the Santa Clara County Fairground contest and won two 1st place trophies, which allowed me to enter a contest for the California State Bus contest. That allowed me to airbrush a full bus, which started my career in customizing and design.
At age 16, I started my own venture and opened up the Rod Water Design (RWD) company. I started my illustration career in college, doing car customizing, pinstriping, and custom work.
I have been featured in all of the large publications, such as The Black Book, Serbin Communication, Directory of Illustration, SIS, Air Brush Action Magazine, Air Brush booklets, Atari, World Premier, California's Real Cheese, Jazzical Recording, and Marquez Brothers. On the customizing side, I have been published in magazines such as Lowrider Magazine, Trucking Magazine, Euro magazines, and have been featured on covers of magazines around the world.
In 1994 I was awarded the International Bronze Medal from the Society of Illustration as one of the top Editorial, Commercial Illustrator in the field. Four years later, with the new found success being on top of my career, I decided to retire from illustration and custom painting to pursue a new career path in business management at Air Systems Inc., where I currently work and manage, while freelancing as RWD.
In 2014, I was asked to custom paint a bike, which I entered into a national show and won Best Paint, which opened up a new doorway to keep my creative side alive. Today, most of my work has been winning Best-In-Show, Best Paint, and has been recognized by organizations around the world. In addition to my old published work in magazines and state shows, social media has given me a new audience to share my work with.
In the last few years, I have been a newcomer in the customizing world, trying to make a name again, gaining supporters from around the world as a new name. It has been an exciting journey meeting all the new people and gaining trust from new customers.
Follow Rodino on Instagram: @_rwd_
Why did you decide to retire from illustration and custom painting? Do you prefer more of the business side of things rather than the hands-on creative?
I retired from the design world and custom painting because after I reached everything I wanted to accomplish in art and custom painting, I lost interest. I felt my passion became work. I also started working for a large company which allowed me to be creative within it and pursued the leadership path for a large corporation Air Systems/EMCOR.
How do you feel about social media? Do you post old work to give them life again or do you typically just post new work?
I think social media is the best thing that ever happened. I wish this was used in my time of advertising my work. The problem with the old work is that they have lost the crisp colors. Most of my work is lost in the publication world. I am only posting new work moving forward.
Since you’re just doing illustration and custom work on a freelance basis, do you find yourself having to turn down a lot of work? I imagine an award-winning artist gets you a lot of commission requests.
I only choose the work that will work around my schedule. Being a full-time Director of a company keeps me busy during the day. Right now I am fully booked for 2019.
Which award are you most proud of and why?
Having received so many recognitions and awards, I feel receiving the International Bronze Medal award opened up so many doors. It became the platform to reach another level in my career and allowed me to be successful in my current job today.
You mentioned in your bio that you’re a newcomer in the customizing world and that you’re trying to make a name for yourself again. I’m curious who you are inspired by these days and, as a “newcomer,” how do you feel your work compares to the big names in the industry?
I was inspired by LunaticCustom Rich Luna & Mr.Wim, our local artist in the Bay Area. I feel I need a lot of work to be where the big names are. I'm a very highly competitive person – I always want to win. I need to get back to where I left off years back.
What's your favorite part of the custom process? The idea stage/tape out stage/paint/airbrush/pinstriping/etc.
My favorite part in the process is laying out the design I mentally created in my mind, and to actually see it before the work begins. The creative moment is the most inspiring.
On the flip side, what’s the most frustrating part of doing custom work?
The most frustrating part of my custom work is when the job comes to an end, and I ship it back.
Do you currently have, or have something upcoming, that you’re really excited to get started on?
I have a world-class paint job that will be showcasing for 2019. This motorcycle has been a top-winning bike that has been published in all the top magazines, which will showcase my work again on a different platform in the social media outlets. It is currently sponsored by Tamco Paint.
When it comes to custom work, are you all self-taught? Feel free to give a shoutout to the men and women who have helped you when you were starting out.
On the custom side, I am self-taught. I used to take my mom's nail polish and try to design some of the designs I have seen in shows and magazines. I also looked up to Heinricks, RodPowel Customs, I wanted to be just like them, making money having fun with art.
Finally, what advice would you give to your young self just starting out?
Never give up and believe in yourself. Having the confidence in your craft will help you excel in everything you do. I used to feed on the negative of critics to help me refine my skills. The path to greatness is always being humble in everything you do.
Be sure to follow Rodino Bautista online
Custom bike build video clip