Award winning artist, illustrator and cartoonist Rich Powell was born on Long Island in 1963. He grew up in New Jersey and served in the Marines after high school. While studying at the California State University, Hayward he met his wife Frankie, who is also an artist.
Rich spent many years working in the computer gaming field starting at Sierra On-Line in the early 90s. During those years he worked as both a conceptual artist and eventually an art director. When Sierra shut down he began doing freelance work.
As a freelancer he has created illustrations for logos, t-shirt designs, board games, greeting cards, character/mascot designs, cartoons and more. His illustrations and cartoons have been used by MAD Magazine, Playboy, Our State Magazine, Highlights for Children, The North Carolina Zoo, McGraw-Hill, The National Institutes for Health and many others.
His hilarious single panel cartoon, WIDE OPEN! (Formerly Dixie Drive), is distributed by Universal Uclick on the Gocomics.com site and also appears daily in Asheboro, North Carolina’s Courier-Tribune.
In addition to his cartoon and illustration work, Rich enjoys combining his love of old toys with large scale acrylic paintings.
A couple of weeks back Rich was honored at the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Awards weekend by being presented with the 2013 Best Product/Advertising Illustration Silver Reuben. This is quite an honor and one that he truly deserves.
Rich lives in Asheboro, North Carolina with his wife Frankie. They have a daughter Bailey who is also a very talented artist. Be sure and visit the Rich Powell Illustration website to see much more of his work, as well as his blog which is updated regularly. You should also check out his WIDE OPEN! comic here at GoComics. Very funny stuff!
What is your favorite pen to use?
It's funny you ask this now. I work in 3 different ways: Usually for MAD or Highlights, I cartoon in pencil and pump up the contrast in Photoshop before adding color. I like the "scratchiness" of the line: When I do a watercolor humorous illustration I'll go over the pencil with a waterproof ball point or marker (Uniball Elite or Pitt or Pigma) to preserve that scratchy look. If I'm doing a gag cartoon such as my Wide Open panel, I'll use Superblack and a nib (most of the time!). I'm no master of the nib so I wrote to the great Jim Woodring whose inking I greatly admire and asked him what HE uses. He was kind enough to mail me a nib! It's a very cool thing: A Brause Fingerfeder #29. It's shaped like a hand wherein the extended index finger is the nib. I would have expected no less an artifact from Mr. Woodring. I placed that Talisman aside and bought myself a pack!
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I use a Pentel Twist-Erase mechanical .05. On an excursion in Savannah with a bunch of MAD guys I turned around in the bus to talk with Sergio Aragones and noticed a Twist-Erase in his pocket. "Wow!" I said. "I draw with the same pencil as the great Sergio!" He took his out and asked me ".07?" and I answered "No...05" he grins and says "Oh well!"
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Depends. Cartoons that I send digitally are most often done on the computer. I love working in watercolor though and do that often. I like the bleed.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I have a Pelikan set of watercolors and sometimes use my Dr. Martin's Synchromatic Watercolors. Unless my daughter (an art student) has swiped them.
What type of paper do you use?
I've been using the new Strathmore Mixed Media pads lately. Very versatile and affordable.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I am absolutely horrible at drawing good looking women. Sad, I know.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogs/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I like to use Jerry's Artarama. It's based up in Raleigh, NC but they have a catalog. We don’t have a mom and pop shop around here and I hate Hobby Lobby.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I ran out of chickens so, no.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I like Jazz, Folk Rock like Dylan or Wilco, blues.... but that's not all. I like many genres. I find it hard to pay attention to the lyrics if I'm really into the drawing. So, mostly Jazz I guess.
What was the first job as a cartoonist/illustrator that you were paid for?
I drew bachelorette party cards where the men's "naughty bits" were left out for the women to draw. Ugh.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
MAD, Creepy, Eerie, National Lampoon.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
I loved the Far Side, Watterson's art, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Buck Rogers...too many to mention. I like gag cartoonists: Addams, Kliban, Gross, MK Brown.
Yes. New Yorker collection that my parents had. Early stuff like The War Album, 1925-50. I've still got them.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to Cal State Hayward after the Marines for a fine art education. Painting/drawing/sculpting...nothing you can get a job doing!
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Both. Easier to approach people, larger audience, crappier wages and more competition.
Did either of your parents draw?
My dad (an accountant) painted after work. He was good!
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My dad was.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I teach the occasional quickie class at the local library. I wish I was better at it.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion and work ethic, if you want to make it as a cartoonist.
All sorts of crazy crap. Anything old and strange looking.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Koko the Clown.
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Manage my fabulously wealthy late parent’s fortune.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A giant, green monster of a drafting table that ends up far too cluttered.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I screw around with a guitar. Not well.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Draw, draw, draw.