Thursday, March 4, 2010
Tom Richmond - Cartoonist Survey #89
Illustrator, cartoonist and caricaturist extraordinaire, Tom Richmond was born in 1966. He graduated from The College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1989. While at college he worked a summer job drawing caricatures at Six Flags. He was soon married and he moved to Atlanta with his wife for a little while. In Atlanta he managed a caricature operation for Fasen Arts at Six Flags, soon opening his own caricature concession in downtown Atlanta. At the same time he was drawing comic books for NOW comics and Marvel comics. Tom moved to Minnesota with his wife and their baby daughter and in 1991 he opened another caricature concession, this time at Valleyfair theme park. He also expanded his freelance business, by doing work for cd-rom games, publishers, magazines and advertising clients. While working towards his goal of drawing for MAD magazine he did some work for Cracked, the Minnesota Twins and National Geographics for Kids. In 2000 Tom started working for MAD and he has been ever since. His movie and TV parodies appear in just about every issue. He is a member of the National Caricaturist Network and the National Cartoonist Society, winning awards from both organizations including three NCS divisional Reuben Awards for “Advertising Illustration”. He has opened many more caricature concessions including one here at Six Flags, New England. He presently lives in Minnesota with his wife and children working out of a studio in his home. Tom runs the wonderful MAD blog where he shares his knowledge through tutorials, weekly sketches and his Sunday Mailbag feature. Do yourself a favor and be sure to visit his website and his blog. Oh yeah, he’s a bodybuilder too, so don’t give him any lip.
What is your favorite pen to use?
If you mean what do I ink with, then that would be the Gillott 303 pen nib, the Hunt 102 crow quill and a #2 sable brush. If you mean to write out checks that would be the Uniball Vision Micro (black ink).
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Yes, I usually do rough sketches with a Mirado Black Warrior 2 HB pencil (that's the old fashioned kind with the rubber eraser on the end and needs a pencil sharpener), and for final pencil work I use a clutch-type lead holder with a 2mm lead, usually with an H or HB Staedtler Mars graphite.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Almost all on the computer these days... PhotoShop.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
On the rare occasions I do traditional color I use either watercolors for line and color work or acrylics for more painted stuff.
What type of paper do you use?
For sketching and roughs, I use a 67# Vellum bristol. For final work a Strathmore 500 or 400 series bristol with a kid finish.
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I don't hate drawing anything but I get annoyed drawing a lot of things. I was annoyed at drawing bicycles today, because I just had to draw a bunch of them and they are a pain to draw. Tomorrow I will be annoyed with drawing something else. (Editor's note: The sample picture above is what Tom is referring to when talking about drawing bicycles.)
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Sadly all the close local art stores closed up around my hometown, and the closest ones are a fair drive away. Usually I order my supplies from a local art supply warehouse over the phone or I will drive all the way there if I am in a pinch... I try to support local art supply sellers.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
I used to bang my head against the foundation wall in my basement for good luck, but my doctor made me stop that. Now I just put on clean underwear.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I listen to music when I am doing the conceptual work on a given job (sketching, layout, drawing, etc) and it's usually classic rock like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or similar. When I'm inking and coloring I listen to audiobooks.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
As a young kid Batman was always my favorite, and Captain marvel. Later it was Star Wars.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
My favorite was Bloom County back in it's heyday... today I'd have to say Pearls Before Swine.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
My favorite book was and still is The Lord of the Rings, and I have a copy of it now but not the same as I had then... I wore it out reading it.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I went to what was then the School of Associated Arts in St. Paul, MN (now the College of Visual Arts) where I learned nothing about cartooning except that all the teachers at the school thought cartooning was what artists with no talent tried to do when they failed as real artists.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
It's a curse in that it is destroying the traditional model of publishing and has the industry in a turmoil, but it's a blessing in that it will eventually define the next evolution of publishing and will be the vehicle through which artists and writers share their work and (hopefully) also make a living.
Did either of your parents draw?
My parents were excellent at drawing baths, cards and occasionally flies if they hadn't draw baths in some time. They could not draw with a pen and paper to save their lives.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My wife, The Lovely Anna. She is both my most honest critic and my most supportive fan.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Yes but I seldom get to draw in it. I do at least a sketch a week, but that is nothing.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I've been teaching young artists how to draw live caricatures for over 20 years via my theme park caricature operations. It can be frustrating but when you work with someone who is genuinely enthusiastic and really puts for effort it is always gratifying to see them grow.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion, because talent is nothing if it's not challenged or paired with the desire to excel. I know many artists with lesser talent than some who are far more successful as artists because they have passion and with it perseverance.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
I used to collect head injuries until I stopped that pre-drawing ritual I mentioned before. Today I collect old Batman toys and generally cool stuff.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd be a bartender. I make a mean chocolate martini.
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
A room in my basement, full of every imaginable distraction on earth... and a drawing table.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I can play a few songs on the guitar, but not well.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Be happy with your skill level today, but don't be happy if you have the same skill level tomorrow. Never stop working to improve and aim high in your work.
Who is your favorite artist?
ONE FAVORITE?!? If I was forced to choose one I'd have to say Mortjackwally Druckerdaviswood.
Thank you very much Tom, especially for all the information you post on your blog.
Former president of the National Cartoonist Society and creator of the strip Soup to Nutz, Rick Stromoski is next.