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Personalized Tutoring Sessions $50.00

My teaching philosophy is simple, learning new skills should never feel intimidating or overwhelming. My computer classes focus on basic principles you will use everyday. Each lesson is broken down into small easy to understand tasks that gradually build on one another. Although much of the subject matter we discuss tends to be on the technical side, it is always taught in a simple, practical manner. My goal is to make sure students gain a total understanding of how and why things work the way they do. 




What are Students Saying?

What are students saying about classes at

Bucky Jones – Illustrator

Wow, Bob Ostrom is an awesome teacher! Seriously, what he covered in 1/2 an hour, and how he was able to explain it in a way that even I could understand...just awesome! If you ever have the chance to take a class or have a lesson with him, I highly recommend it! Thanks, Bob!

Candice Davies, Author Illustrator

I'm writing to sing the praises of Bob Ostrom. It's clear from his artwork that he's mastered his media and is an accomplished artist. But being accomplished doesn't necessarily equate to being a quality teacher. How many of us have had that 'genius' professor that was just plain incomprehensible? I have. Paid big bucks for "industry standard" gurus before I met Bob, and each one left me feeling more inept and discouraged than before. Fortunately, Bob is one of the rare jewels in which craftsmanship and quality instructor coalesce. His delightful sense of humor makes learning fun and his sincere desire to help his students unlock their potential make learning relevant and exciting.

Tara Urbach – Artist

Thanks Bob! I'm so happy I took this 3 pack of classes for Illustrator. I was proficient coming in - but I knew I could benefit from Bob's years of professional experience and the fact that he stays so current with the upgrades. I picked up a lot of tips that will help me with my speed and efficiency - which was my goal. Mission accomplished! Thanks again!!!


Weekly Video Tutorials

A great way to sharpen your skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign?

Creating a Soft Edge Vector Mask .AI

Using the Photoshop Liquify Filter

Cleaning up PDF’s Hidden Layers With .AI

Cleaing up the Brush Strokes in .AI

Latest Posts

contracts and kill fee featured art

Contracts, What is a Kill Fee and Why is it so Important?

How Good is Your Contract?

I was talking with an artist friend today when the conversation turned to contracts and the dreaded kill fee. He was involved in a project that was on shaky ground and it didn’t look like it was going to go the distance. There were rumblings that the client was unhappy with the agency. They were thinking about leaving and taking the project with them. It had nothing to do with him or his work, in fact everyone was very happy with his progress up until that point but if they left it meant he would lose the job through no fault of his own. He was worried about what would happen from there. Would he be paid? What happens to his art? Who owns the copyright, and all the other things that go along with project termination?

Does Your Contract have a Kill Fee?

I asked if his contract contained a kill fee. He told me it didn’t cover that sort of thing. He had never had to deal with a project that ended early or involved a kill fee. That got me to thinking how many artists are out there working without a safety net? Before I go any further let me say one thing, I’m not an attorney. In fact I have no legal training whatsoever. I’m just a guy who’s been in business a lot of years and seen a lot of things. I’ve learned a lot from the school of hard knocks and one of the things I learned is that sometimes projects don’t make it to completion. For whatever reason sometimes projects fail, get cancelled, postponed, delayed, put on hold, downsized, terminated, whatever phrase you choose to use they end. The problems begin when your contract doesn’t cover projects that don’t make it to completion. If your contract doesn’t contain a kill fee you may want to look into it.

kill fee illustration by bob ostromWhat is a Kill Fee?

Having a clause in your contract to address project cancellation protects you from doing work and not being paid.  It’s commonly referred to as a kill fee. It addresses what happens in the event that your project ends prematurely. It states how much money is owed at what point, who keeps the rights to the artwork and when you will be compensated for your work. All things that are very important to you and your livelihood. You may think you’ll never run into this situation or if you do your client will be reasonable and have your best interest in mind. Unfortunately what you and your client consider reasonable is often very different. It’s always best to spell things out clearly and upfront so there are no misunderstandings.

Attorney Zachary Strebeck has this advice:

“Whether you’re talking about kill fees or other termination conditions, or just the payment terms or ownership of the work product, it is ALWAYS a good idea to get a written contract in place before starting work. Illustrators who do this kind of work often would be wise to have a template contract that they can provide to prospective employers. It gives an air of professionalism, provides a jumping-off point for negotiations, and helps to ensure that the provisions YOU WANT are in the deal.”

So there you have it kids. If you don’t have a kill fee in your contract you may be opening yourself up to some serious problems down the road. If you need help with a contract or legal advice here are a few resources you can can check out:

Attorney Zack Strebeck
Graphic Artists Guild

finding inspiration featured image of creative genius Bob Ostrom

Finding Inspiration

Finding Inspiration the BobTeachesArt Way.

Each week Rob and I get together to discuss upcoming classes and posts for the site. One of the things we talk about in our strategy sessions are the things we’ve been inspired by and the things that keep us going, ranging from books to podcasts to the websites we love. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the info available these days, some amazing, some a total waste of time. You could spend hours weeding through it all looking for the good stuff or you could just check out a few of the our top recommendations for this week.

bob ostrom photoBob’s Top Picks

My top picks this week are a book, a podcast and a website (when it comes to staying motivated I like to jump around). My first recommendation is a book I read a few years ago. The book wasn’t new when I discovered it but it showed up at exactly the right time. I was in the middle of a huge project with a lot of scary deadlines creeping in. I was in crisis mode and was losing steam. I wasn’t sure where to find the motivation I needed to get through the project. I just knew that if I didn’t act soon I was going to be in trouble. I decided it was time to step away from my desk and get outside to clear my head. I figured an audiobook and a little yard work might help get me pointed in the right direction.

The Book that Changed my Life.

I had purchased a book called The War of Art based on a recommendation from of one of my favorite podcasts. I hadn’t thought much about it at the time. It just seemed like something good to cue up the next time I went out to cut the yard. Little did I know that book was about to change my life in an afternoon. I cued it up, started the mower and was blown away. It sounded like it had been written just for me. Everything I was experiencing, the creative struggle, the lack of motivation the feeling of being overwhelmed was exactly what I was going through. Not just that day but every time I sat down to create or work on a new project. It was the perfect solution. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although it slants toward writers it is essentially for all creatives.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon this is not an affiliate link, I think I grabbed my copy from iTunes. If you’re torn between picking up the written version or the audio, go with the audio. This is one of those books where the narration is really amazing and greatly adds to the presentation. Anytime I feel like I might be losing my mojo I just give The War of Art a listen, it’s the perfect solution.

F*ck the Hustle

My second recommendation is a podcast my good friend Chris Wilson ( who you may remember from Answers for Freelancers and Creative Independence) turned me on to, it’s called The Hustle Free Podcast. I love the direction Kim Doyal and her co-host Jon Perez are taking with this show which basically goes something like this… “F*ck the hustle“. 

Look around the internet these days. Everywhere you turn the message is the same. You can’t succeed as an entrepreneur without hustling. What is the hustle? Well basically it means outworking your competition. How do you do that? By any means necessary. The lengths that some people go to has become more and more ridiculous. I think I reached my breaking point with the hustle mentality when I heard an interview where the author explained, “If you don’t want success as badly as you want to take your next breath then you don’t want it badly enough”. How long can you honestly keep that up?  I don’t know about you but I’m just damn tired of hustling. I want my life back. Fortunately for me so do Kim and Jon. This podcast is dedicated to showing more rational ways to achieve success. It’s a no nonsense approach to building a hustle free income. Does that mean you won’t have to put in the work? Of course not it just means there are better way to achieve success. If you want to find out how check out The Hustle Free Podcast

Need Some Motivation?

My final recommendation is a podcast I listen to when I need something a little less business and a little more motivational. It’s call The Charged Life. It’s by motivation and personal growth expert Brendon Burchad. This podcast always has a short (10 minute or so) positive message that is sure to point you in the right direction. If you are looking for a little guidance and a positive message check out The Charged  Life – (If you like Brendon’s work be sure to check out his collection of audio books. Brendon is an excellent writer and his books are every bit as motivational as his podcast). 

The Charged Life

rob-rodeRob’s Suggestions

When it comes to a design project, whether it’s a website, an advertising piece or even packaging a PowerPoint presentation for a client, there are times when the creative juices seem to have run dry.  I know I’m not alone; I’ve had this conversation with many folks, but I’ve come to believe that the problem really isn’t a lack of creativity, but rather a block in the flow of creativity.


Yeah, I know, it sounds weird and probably more philosophical than I’m intending to be but here’s the gist: over time, the more experience you develop as well as the more projects you take on, it’s only natural that you look to your “signature” techniques when working on a project .  It could be the way you use text, or gradients, the style of photography, or even how you layout a page.  The only thing is that your “tried and true” techniques will most likely not work for every client or every project.  And that’s when the wall appears.

How to Combat “Creative Block”.

When asked about how to combat “creative block” there are a few resources I fall back on to keep things moving, and here are just a couple: is just like any other online stock image library, but instead of using the site just for photos, I often hit the site and use a search term like “techno background,” or “fabric pattern.” It’s absolutely amazing the number of designs, colors, textures, and shapes that show up which for me trigger ideas on using graphic treatments for a whole range of projects.  It could be the way a shape is used, or the arrangement of dots and lines.  And on that note, here’s another recommendation: these online libraries are free to join.  Register and set up an account, because as soon as you do, you can start creating lightboxes where you can save images according to categories that you set up for yourself.  I’ve got a bunch of lightboxes going and I’ll go back to them to help recharge the creative batteries.

The Graphic Design Annual.

Another source of inspiration for me is the Graphic Design Annual which is sponsored by Graphic Design USA (, and for that matter, I’d suggest signing up for their magazine.  It’s free.  You can’t beat that.  The Annual is chock-full of all sorts of design ideas that are submitted by other creatives, so you get to see the types of projects that other professionals have worked on including logos, advertising design, websites, promotionals, packaging, brochures and a ton more.

Walk away!

Walk away.  Seriously.  When I’m in the grind and things aren’t totally “clicking,” what I’ll often do is step away from the computer and focus on something else for a bit.  I will say that this is where discipline is key because you don’t want to abandon a project, you’re only giving yourself an opportunity to give yourself some space.  Some breathing room if you will. Tony Robbins calls it “breaking the pattern” where redirecting your focus helps to establish new thought patterns.  Here’s a classic example: ever hear of someone coming up with a great idea while taking a shower?  Know why that happens?  It’s because changing our environment can actually help change our thought patterns.  For some folks, that means breaking away to play an instrument or listen to some music, do a little yard work, or in my case, I like to build models so I’ll put something together for a few minutes. The danger here is that you could get side-tracked for a while, so set a time limit to avoid project abandonment. 

So the next time you feel like you’re hitting the wall, give these strategies a try.  And by all means, let us know your secrets for avoiding the rut; we’d love to hear from you!

How to use Gradients and Blending Modes and more in Adobe Photoshop

Welcome Back

Welcome back everyone, and welcome to my new co-host Rob Rode. Some of you may know Rob from our work on Rob will be joining me here on BobTeachesArt as an instructor and co-host. He is one of the best teachers I know. He is a wealth of knowledge and an all around great guy. I hope you will enjoy working with him as much as I do.

Season 5 ep 1

In this episode Rob will demonstrate how to use Photoshop’s gradients, and blending modes. Rob will also show how by combining them with a few simple filters you can create the perfect night sky.

Web Graphics Mastery Class

The Web Graphics Mastery Class Rob mentioned is coming up February 8th, 7:00-8:30PM. For more info grab the course catalog

Send us your Questions and Comments

We love to hear from you are readers. If you have a question or a suggestion please let us know!

Not on the Mailing list yet?

Yes, Bob and Rob Please sign me up for your mailing  list! Let me know when your next classes and tutorials are available!

How to Create a Blurred Edge Mask in Illustrator

There are two types of digital artists out there, artists who think in Vector and everybody else. I tend to land more in the everybody else category. As a traditionally trained artist vector doesn’t always make sense. It always feels like it’s a step or two away. I want this so I have to do that to get to that to get to my result. It’s a little like learning to speak a second language. You know what you want to say but you have to translate it in your head first before it makes sense. Earlier this week I was working with a client who needed a soft edge crop. Normally I’d go to Photoshop for something like that because it’s just such a simple thing but my client insisted the image remain in vector.

Don’t get me wrong when it comes to vector I know what I’m doing. A good portion of the work I do professionally is done in vector. I love the results it gives me but admittedly there are times when it’s a bit of a struggle. I guess for me bitmap just feels more intuitive. That’s why when I came across this request I was a bit stumped. I knew how to produce a soft edged shapes and I knew how to create a mask I just didn’t remember how to put the two together. I got in touch with a good friend of mine who walked me through it. Oddly there is very little information online dealing directly with the blurred edge vector mask so I decided it was time someone stepped up to the plate and changed that. This weeks video is short and sweet. I’ll walk you through the entire process in just a little over 3 minutes. I hope you like the video and find it useful. If you did please share it with a friend.

Until next week thanks for joining me and keep on keeping on.


For info on upcoming classes and more…


discount bundle art

Discount Special - $50 (ends 8/27/16)


advanced line art part one image

Part 1 - $10.00


Part 3 - 39.00

Part 3 - 39.00


the big class of color image

Part 2 - $39.00


tutoring, ostrom

Personalized Tutoring Sessions $50.00