Talented ON Artist Arash Rod Creates Chat Bots for NBA and Much More

Portia Leigh
7 min readMar 17, 2024


In an era where digital presence shapes consumer perceptions and loyalty, the role of innovative artistic expression cannot be overstated. Arash Rod, a pioneering artist at leading AI chat platform ON, has revolutionized brand engagement with his imaginative web chat bots, which serve as a vital bridge between companies and their audience. Transcending conventional marketing strategies, Arash captures the essence of the brands he works with through the animated art forms he creates, which ultimately helps them to strike meaningful interactions with their fans.

“Arash’s artwork is unique in a way that no other can replicate. This is all due to his process. Arash takes a very immersive approach with his work, often studying everything about an organization in order to capture the very soul of that organization… The end result is a piece of artwork that wows our customers, who proudly display the work on nearly every page of their website via the bot,” explains Harry Valentgas, ON’s manager of customer success.

“Over the past two years I have been at ON, Arash has created custom artwork for over 50 different customers… What makes Arash’s contributions so special is how his work strengthens ON’s relationships with our customers.”

E40 (left) and Arash Rod (right) with Arash’s sticker design of E40

For ON specifically, Arash has created countless animations and exclusive web chat bots for

major sports teams within the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL and USL league, as well as for Mike Tyson. He also collaborated with famous artists and athletes including Joe Montana, Joel Embidd, Snoop Dogg, E40, Gary Payton, Lawyer Milloy, Sergio Romo, Sydney Leroux and T.J. Ward to create in-app sticker packages that represented them in the company’s GameOn app.

“Character design projects are always fun, but I really enjoy the process of animation projects I do because it’s like a short diary that starts with a couple of scribbled ideas and it ends with full color animation,” explains Arash.

Over the years Arash has proven himself to be a uniquely talented artist capable of applying his vision and skill as both a lead artist and art director to various projects. Prior to beginning his career as ON’s lead artist, Arash art directed the animated series “Foodie Cats” on behalf of the Junior Giants team, which is part of the San Francisco Giants baseball organization.

A fun animated series of short baseball related videos that aimed to promote core values such as integrity, confidence, leadership and teamwork to a young audience, “Foodiecats” began as a collaboration between Studio X supervisor Gilbert Banducci and Arash; and was later promoted on the Junior Giants website, Youtube and other outlets.

He recalls, “We studied lots of toy designs and based on some of them I have made a series of realistic paintings of our ‘Foodiecat’ characters as if they were real toys.”

As the art director Arash set up the entire visual direction of the project and designed the characters, props and story scenes for the production team. In addition to “Foodiecats,” Arash also designed exclusive artwork for Conan O’Brien that was featured on vending machines and T-shirts to promote the famous comedian’s 2012 Chicago tour.

Conan O’Brien vending machine with art created by Arash Rod

By the time he started at ON in 2014, he had already established a reputation of excellence as an ingenious artist. As ON’s lead artist Arash’s role at the company included everything from designing exclusive sticker packages for the company’s chat app to creating special videos, posters and unique artwork for merchandise items that promoted the company. He even started a company culture of creating little avatars for new employees, something that he continues to do for ON’s new hires today.

As the company shifted from being a sports app to focusing on chatbot technology, Arash’s role transformed into something that hadn’t really been done before– creating exclusive animated content and UI for ON’s clients to promote their chatbot platform to their fans.

“Our partners who wanted to use the technology with their own identity to connect with their fans through their brand from iconic mascots to logo animation. I always wanted to be creative and tell a story that could trigger someone’s enthusiasm for the piece because of the creativity,” says Arash. “I had that opportunity to make a few seconds piece that could explain the identity of our partner in the most creative way which was very original to me.”

Over the years Arash has created exclusive animation for sports teams including the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, the USL’s Miami FC Soccer, Portland Riverhounds SC, Oakland Roots SC and Hartford Athletic, the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces and Chicago Sky, as well as the love.fútbol organization and others.

Brooklyn Nets design by Arash Rod

“Some of the most memorable projects include Arash’s work for the Brooklyn Nets, where he captured both the rich history and the new location of one of the NBA’s premier teams in a GIF that welcomes all users to the bot,” explains Harry Valentgas. “The Nets loved the animation so much that they even used it as a backdrop during several events.”

For the Brooklyn Nets, which didn’t have a mascot, Arash was charged with turning the brand and Brooklyn city into an animated theme for their chatbot. After extensive research into the teams history, stadium and the city of Brooklyn, Arash created a brilliant animation of the Brooklyn bridge that transitioned into the logo of the partner’s stadium, which gained widespread praise.

In 2021, Arash began working with Miami FC Soccer, Miami’s longest tenured professional soccer club, to give animated life and interactive reactions to their mascot Golazo. Basing the animated design on the team’s real life mascot Golazo, Arash carefully studied the mascot’s reactions and interactions in various environments, observing a range of his emotions from victorious to angry. He then created the base character model using photoshop. Using the puppet tool he was able to effectively create various frames for the animation.

A few of Golazo’s emotive responses designed by Arash Rod

“The animations made a very positive impression on our partners including the owner at Miami FC to the point he was open to create short animated series featuring their mascot based on my animations,” recalls Arash.

“They believed that my design of the character was markatable to their young fan demographic and that led to separately working on the merchandising project with them which actually wasn’t part of our company deal in the beginning.”

Though he started his career over 20 years ago, his love for animation and the arts in general began whilst he was a young boy growing up in Iran.

“It first started with TV cartoons,” he explains. “I used to put papers on my favorite characters’ designs and trace them. When I was in high school, I got interested in newspaper cartoons and comic strips from Iranian cartoonists I followed, including Afshin Sabouki and also Argentinian cartoonist Mordillo. I used to collect those cartoons on my handmade album before the age of the computer started.”

It’s easy to see from Arash’s animated designs in projects such as the animated film “Cute” from Barfi Studios, on which he served as director, storyboard artist and character designer, that he has an eye-catching style. Several years later, he followed up “Cute” with the film “The Grrreat Death,” which was part of a project for the Academy of Art University in 2014. That short animation was featured in the university’s Spring Show 2014 as the runner-up for the Best Animated Short, and it continues to be featured on the Academy of Art website.

For Arash, this affinity for divergent design styles is something that also began quite early. “I was really interested in special looking characters that had a very unique style in their design and I wanted to recreate something like that,” recalls Arash. “When I found out that my favorite Iranian cartoonist Afshin Sabouki had a class in the place called ‘The House of Cartoon’ which was a gallery and workshop place for cartoonists, I immediately signed up to follow his process.”

Arash at his first gallery with his art teacher Afshin Sabouki in Tehran in 2000

One of the things that makes Arash Rod’s work as an artist so successful and sought after, especially by the clients at ON, is his way of tapping into what best communicates the brand’s identity, without losing his own creativity. Recently Arash finished a new refresh animation project for the Detroit Pistons team that involved their horse mascot, Hooper, and he is currently working on animation projects for the Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul soccer teams. Up next for him is an animation project for the Oakland A’s baseball team, as well as a special project as a character designer for Gilbert Banducci, which will be revealed in a few months.

In a world where digital relationships are increasingly important, Arash Rod’s creative animations redefine brand engagement through a fusion of artistry and technology that help propel companies towards authentic connections with their audiences, setting new standards for innovation in the digital age; and there is no question, we will be seeing a lot more out of this talented artist.



Portia Leigh

Portia is a journalist & poet from Los Angeles. You can find her work through №3 Magazine, ElephantJournal.com, Gypsyrich.com, Stillstoked.com and more.