Richard was featured May/June 2009
1. When did you start illustrating (for clients professionally?)
I started illustrating after about one and a half years of general studio experience, which consisted mostly of learning basic skills like sweeping floors, simple ad layouts, sweeping floors, past-ups, sweeping floors, making photostats and of course, sweeping floors. I worked at a new community newspaper first, selling ad space and doing the layouts for the ads that I sold. The fellow who owned that newspaper eventually hired me to work in his retail art studio in Toronto, after much begging and pleading on my part. While I swept floors, I watched the other illustrators work and occasionally got a chance to try my hand at simple black and white spot drawings. I did a lot of work on my own time, trying to develop the required skill to put away my broom. My big debut was sometime in 1972.
2. Who are your biggest influences?
As far as illustrators go, my biggest influences were guys like Bob Peak, Bernie Fuchs, N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell. Closer to home and most importantly, Ernie Cselko, one of my best friends and my greatest personal mentor. Ernie has passed away now, but his influences in illustration in Toronto lives on.
3. What is your work process?
I try to research a project as extensively as time will permit and like many old-time illustrators, I have a large scrap file that I rely on heavily. Of course, the internet makes it so much easier these days. I develop my ideas with pencil sketches, then marker layouts and finally I work in paint, usually acrylic for the finished work. I don't use the computer for much other than final touch-ups and enhancements to my work.
4. What would you name as the biggest strength of your illustrations?
I think bold use of colour is one of the greatest strengths of my illustrations.
5. Do you have any formal education in art?
I started straight into the business after high school. I was too nieve and in too much of a hurry to bother with art school. I did complete about half of the Famous Artists Commercial Art correspondence course while I was in high school, though.
6. Where do you see the future of illustration?
Unfortunately, I see illustration moving more and more into the realm of computer software and photo manipulation solutions. This will mark the end of the dinosaur era.
7. If you could offer one piece of advice to someone considering a career in illustration, what would it be?
Do what you love.