17 December 2009

Brief Interview with MAD Magazine Illustrator Tom Richmond

1. How long have you been drawing? Did you always know it was what you wanted to do?
I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, since before I started going to school as a kid. Comic books got me interested in drawing and storytelling. I've never wanted to do anything else.

2. Do you come from a family of creatives, or are you the odd one out? Were they supportive of your interests?
I am the only person in my family with any creative skills at all. I'm a total genetic throwback... or the mailman's kid.

3. Did you go to school for illustration? If not, what did you originally attend college for, and what happened to change your mind?
I went to the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, MN, where I learned traditional illustration and fine arts. No cartooning classes were offered.

4. When did you begin working regularly for MAD Magazine, and how did you get involved with them?
My first piece in MAD appeared in October of 2000. I've been working regularly for them ever since. I started seriously pursuing work from them about a year earlier, and after a lot of sending in my latest work, meeting with the editors and art directors and some begging, I was given a shot with a MAD job.

5. Do you enjoy working for MAD? How, if at all, is their working relationship with illustrators different from other employers you’ve worked for?
MAD is like most other clients in that there is an art director, an assignment, preliminary pencil reviews and direction and final art delivery. However the dynamic with MAD is different in that they expect a lot more input into the job than just drawing the images. Their artists function as visual "writers" as well, and an integral to the humor and delivery of the MAD experience. It's more involved and more fun.

6. Describe your process, from start to finish, on a completed illustration. Go as in-depth as you wish.
See this series of blog posts for that answer: http://www.tomrichmond.com/blog/2006/07/15/diary-of-a-mad-job

7. How has your process changed or evolved over the years? (For example, do you now use digital processes in place of handskills for some steps?)
I have incorporated new techniques into my work, while keeping the central look or "style" consistent. Certainly i think my skills have improved, from composition through to color use and more effective drawing.

8. Do you have any major stylistic influences? If so, name them.
The usual suspects among the classic MAD artists: Wally Wood, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis. Other comic book artists like Ty Templeton, Hilary Barta and Bruce Timm. Also illustrators like Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, Maxfield Parrish and especially Andrew Loomis.

9. Did/Do you have a mentor? If so, who, and how have they helped you?
I'd have to say if I had a mentor it would be Sam Viviano, the longtime MAD artist and current art director. He has taught me more in the time I have worked for MAD than I ever learned in college or through other experiences.

10. What are you working on now?
Currently on the drawing board I have a movie poster job, an advertising poster, a series of spot illustrations for a magazine and a graphic novel I am just getting started on.

11. What’s next for you?
Whatever comes my way. I'm getting involved more in the movie and TV business, so possibly animation and futher images for film might be in the cards in the near future.


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