Roel Ottow

Ottow | Roel Ottow



Roel Ottow has been busy designing and drawing his entire life: “You can safely say it started when I was still in the womb”. After studying at art college, he turned his hobby into his work.

Diversity in clients

Roel mainly works as a graphic designer and illustrator for magazines, publishers and advertising agencies, but organisations can also approach him directly for books, board games, brochures, posters and the like. For years, Roel has been illustrating for the VNO-NCW business association and the Ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs. He uses various techniques and styles. A pompous approach to design and illustration is certainly not for him. “Sometimes too many flowery words are used. My slogan is ‘don’t whinge, just draw’. It all boils down to creative concepts in image and text that work.”

Export Kenya

Ottow and his wife lived in Kenya from 1988 until 1991 where he worked as a designer/illustrator for literacy projects, among other things. His neighbour printed     t-shirts for tourists and this led to a long-standing collaboration. Roel: “It’s very precise work. You need to make drawings that appeal to people but are also technically viable.” Something designers in Kenya did not really grasp. He stayed in touch with his old neighbour when he got back to the Netherlands and Roel returns to Kenya regularly for inspiration. He is still coming up with new designs for t-shirts. Nearly 200 to date. They are now also sold in surrounding African countries and the illustrations are finding their way to other applications, such as towels.

Artist and entrepreneur

Roel doubles up as both artist and entrepreneur. As he explains: “The difference between an entrepreneur and an artist is that an entrepreneur says ‘If I don’t do it, someone else will’ and an artist says ‘If I don’t do it, no-one else will’. My work is at the cutting edge. No-one else does it the way I do!”   


Export countries: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Congo and occasionally Belgium, Germany, England and Sweden