Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rick Sealock

Graduating year: ?!
Website: www.ricksealock.com


Howdy, Howdy, hey, Daddy-o Designers, Art Wranglers, and Hi-Fi Art Directors! With a flair for the WILD, WILD WEST and COO-COO Crazy Sinatra Sonnets, this brash upstart illustrator is creating images that are GOOD, BAD, and UBER FAB-DABULOUS! Visit the website to see more! Ride’em in, Ride‘em up! Draw’em up, Draw‘em out! Cut‘em out, Cut‘em up! RAWHIDE!!

I assume you've planned it as part of your online persona, but just in case: You are aware that someone else's holiday snaps show up first when your web pages load?
Oh I could give you some high falutin' hoity-toity response like " I have no idea how to take the photos out of the template I used" or " I knew this approach would make some IT dudes get their panties all up in a knot" but it was a design approach based on following the concept of "MONSTER".
You start to look at a page and catch a glimpse of these shiny happy people on holiday and then "WHAM BLAM THANK YOU MAAM" down comes my manically crazed images over top of them, all that's missing is the sound track from JAWS!
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the web there's MONSTER!
Not bad huh! When the page is finally up there's nothing left but the sound of your heavy, heavy breathing...fantastically caused by the excitement of my new whimsical works and words...and not the porn site you accidently googled earlier!

What's your new stuff about?
I decided it was time for me to quit playing it safe and jump head first into the deep end of the illustration pool…though many feel I went off the deep end years ago. Safe is for Sissies, so damn the torpedoes and let’s draw hell for leather was my credo. When that didn’t happen I decide to draw some Dinosaurs. Hey everybody loves Funky Dinosaurs, they’re big, mean, dancing machines! Well maybe not the ugly ones. But I added antlers to them, isn’t that “IN” anymore?

The new work was a desire for more commentary, more freedom, more satire, and probably more Bitchiness too…you know, more CLAW! Funny thing is, this “CLAW” approach tore opened more personal themes, images, and nose bleeds beyond what I’ve previously created.
For the UNPUBLISHED work it was a response to fads in illustration, definitely more of a satirical take on them. What’s Hot and Not, what’s the IN thing to draw etc. Fads can dictate the direction an industry takes, sometimes regardless of concept or merit. Naturally I wanted to jump on that bandwagon and add my two cents...and as many clich├ęs as possible. There have been Mexican wrestlers, then Robots and now Crazy cute Deer. DO YOU REALLY NEED TO SEE MORE OF THIS IMAGERY? DO YOU? If so, LOVE to show you the other work on the web site! REALLY!
The other work I’m sweet on is PORTRAITS. This is a direction of work I’ve slowly been building upon for the last few years. It would have been faster except those RED noses do take time to paint…and it’s just hard to convince AD’s why everyone needs a red nose! Why red, cuz green ones are just to gross! C’mon! So now I’d like to say MORE with the images, but others say LESS is MORE, so that means I have to say MORE MORE? You see my dilemma, MORE or LESS? Either way the portraits allow me to get more personal and political with the subject matter and commentary. So now if only I could draw…!

What do you like about illustrating?
I like the Nightlife; I love the Boogie, of the Draaaawing Taaaaaaable! Actually it’s just your normal kitchen table, wooden, four legs, but the Boogie is REAL! SNAP! Actually that too is more like SNAP, CRACKLE, POP, now. But how can you not LOVE this BIZ! Where else do you get paid to have FUN and DRAW pictures all day, and I’m not talking about being a police sketch-artist. Which would be a cool job too, though any dudes with large red noses would be so screwed. But seriously, I’ve loved this lifestyle since the beginning…I knew this was for me when I began free-lancing while in my last year at ACAD, Thank GOD for BIG GULPS! Students always ask what did I do after graduating…Sleep! Then cried! More sleep! More crying…in my sleep! I had to find that happy place inside! But when I couldn’t find it so I decided to begin my career as a conceptual illustrator. I jumped on a jet plane in Cowtown and headed for Toronto to make a mark and name for myself…the order was not important…….it helped wearing cowboy boots to portfolio interviews, it made me oh so more exotic…and taller! Most AD’s thought I was the offspring of drug addicted crack head parents from the ghettos of New York, the Cowboy boots helped getting illustration gigs, the crazy glassy eyed look I gave them didn’t hurt either! Then again I was young and they all wanted someone fresh! They’re always after fresh meat in this racket, you’ve got to learn how to stay fresh, not that freeze dried crap but FRESH. And if that doesn’t work, be Cagey, Unorthodox, Out there, Edgy, One-step ahead, one brick shy of…you get the idea! Just keep’em guessing…or die young before the gig is up! Just don’t die on the stage…use the ditch or gutter at the back of the theatre, that’ll make you more infamous!

How has your perception of illustration changed over the time you've been doing it?
It’s all quite a blurry to me, especially when I’m looking at it through the bottom of a pint glass! No, really! I have terrible vision, somewhere around 20/1000. I also see a bad back, weak knees, my mother's hips, and a complete loss of hair...mostly from my head…but that train has already flown! It’s funny but the old adage “the more things change the more they stay the same “ is true about our profession too. The more technology and assignments change, the more budgets stay the same! Actually they’re getting smaller! Where’s the LOVE! But who’s doing it for the money anyhow? Plumbers, Hair dressers, even Ditch Diggers make more than illustrators, even though we’re doing the same sort of jobs! The trick is not to become jaded or disillusioned about it, just swallow that bitter pill, push that vein back in your forehead, and get on with it. You need to develop a thick skin and get back into the arena. Just realize that you‘re really only competing with yourself, that should scare you enough! Or it’s back to that tear in my beer approach!

Do you approach illustration differently now that you are a dad?
Very, very quietly so I don’t wake the baby up!

How did you become Rick Sealock (where does your illustration come from)?
That’s probably a better question for my parents to answer but I can tell you that my illustration comes from somewhere DEEP! DEEP DOWN and DARK inside me! And that’s exactly what I’d say if I were not so shallow.
Let’s start at the beginning. I was raised in the DEEP DARK heart of the boonies; on a community lease in the unbridled out-back of wild rose country. We did not have the luxury of electricity or running water till I was fifteen but we did have an antelope named Charlie as our pet dog. So naturally, besides chasing farm animals, putting our arms into large holes in the ground, or practicing coyo-ote calls, we spent many a hour down at the ole’ bunk house letting our little imaginations muster up what may. Drawing wild west scenes or copying comics and Mad magazines or designing our own sea faring prairie ships on paper became more than a hobby, just like falling off a horse.
I never really considered illustration as a vocation until attending a year at U of Calgary - my prospects of being a professional coyote caller sitting in large holes in the ground never did get off the ground. I took a year of General Studies, basically a bit of everything. After failing a bit of everything or withdrawing from Economics, Computer Science, English, Medieval History and a few other forgetful classes, I discovered that I really only enjoyed Art courses (the ones I actually passed). After a year at U of Calgary, I applied to the Alberta College of Art to become a designer...which I quickly found out was way too much work and effort i.e., talking to obnoxious clients, press checks at ungodly hours or counting spaces between type etc! So I became an illustrator, who could have creative and meaningful discussions with supremely intelligent, gifted, and sensitive Art Directors and Designers (like those reading this), draw in an art studio, and never put pants on …all day! God I love being an Illustrator!
(Some excerpts of these answers were taken from WORK/LIFE, The Uppercase Directory of Canadian Illustrators and Photographers)

What are you teaching at Sheridan?
Sheridan provides a 4-year program in either Interpretive or Technical Illustration. I teach 4th year Interpretive Illustration and an Illustration Studies elective.
In the Interpretive Illustration course, students propose, research, and explore various illustration solutions in order to develop a personal expression of illustration that responds to specific market needs/demands. Basically a Thesis based portfolio development course with emphasis on self-directed studies guided by the instructor. The students may explore traditional print, gaming, conceptual development, self-publishing, or gallery markets. The focus is to create communicators and concept providers to a wider audience. For me, if you can paint a great monkey than you’re in there, even just creating a painting of one is cool enough! Not so much if unicorns…unless a monkey is riding it!
Illustration Studies is an elective that the instructor develops. Visual Dialogue is the name of my course. A major emphasis is placed on visually communicating your ideas. Half the course grade is based alone on the student’s “sketch process”. Visual Dialogue will be the “thinking illustrator’s” course with prominence placed on the process of visual problem solving through developed narrative. It will be a “safari into the deep dark heart of conceptual development”. Students will explore a “ visual jungle” of current and emerging illustration markets with an emphasis on discovering original and risk taking concepts for their images. Discussion and commentary of taboo, controversial, and unconventional concepts and issues will be encouraged. Personal conceptual approaches to solving universal visual themes in a professional manner will be developed and expanded within a “real studio setting”. So there!

What do you like about teaching?

Basically the SUPREME and AWESOME POWER it brings! You know, that RULER OF THE UNIVERSE, HE-MAN, BULLY on the BEACH stuff…plus getting out of the studio once a week is great too! Also you’re in a great position to play the ultimate “Simon Says” game! Those o’chestnuts! haha
I quite enjoy teaching. Those years spent at ACAD teaching with Dennis Budgen were instrumental in developing my present pedagogical approach. Teaching can be definitely rewarding, sometimes humbling, and always an adventure. Beyond being able to wear cool Hawaiian shirts, the students are the main reason. These novices are eager, excited, and hungry to learn, to create. There’s no jaded or bitterness to deal with…not yet anyhow. Work ethic is the most important element to bring into my class. Leave the arrogance and grandiose of supposed talent at the door, if you really had any then you wouldn’t be at an art college. Research the history of Illustration; it’s influential illustrators, the different genres, etc. Don’t work in a vacuum, it’s a sign of ignorance and immaturity. Get off the intranet and use that crazy book place...a library!
You have 4 years to educate and encourage students to continue on their own for another 40 or more years! Your instruction helps them hone their skills, aesthetics, and character to best prepare them for this, at times, a rather tough and competitive industry. By teaching you’re again able to give back to your industry by insuring the best possible instruction to students who will carry on the illustration mantle. Though I’m sure some of my students may have a different perspective, I have tried to give more back then take. I strive to be as magnanimous as those who taught me…but that usually fails me so it’s back to Big Boots Tough Love Teaching! I do believe that all instructors and even all illustrators have a responsibility to better our profession. Whether it be mentoring new illustrators, educating the public, promoting ethical standards and business practices, etc. ALWAYS KEEP RAISING THE STANDARDS!
And here are a few books that can help you with that:
How to Grow as an Illustrator, Michael Fleishman
The Business of Illustration, Steven Heller & Teresa Fernandes
Inside the Business of Illustration, Steven Heller & Marshall Arisman
The Savage Mirror, Steven Heller & Gail Anderson
And any American Illustration, Communication Arts and Society of Illustrators annuls that you can get your hands on! Study the VERY EARLY ones to better understand the history and development of our profession.

Advice to students (words of wisdom???)
The word “WISDOM” is rarely used in context with my name, and the words that have been are a bit too colorful for this interview as they this would look something like. That mad #&%@(*$!) of (#*%&*@! Sealock scrawled this &@)!#!(% piece of #)&@***$@ and expects me to &*#@)$(!&$) print it, Holy &%$)@^! .
Though here are a few observations for students I have:

A) Get some Hawaiian shirts! The brighter the better! Your closet becomes a walk in palette of color and style to choose from when creating an illustration. It’s sort of the moth to the light syndrome but there are worst things to be influenced by! Oh yeah, and coffee and coca-cola help too, well most sugars can do the trick………and there’s sugar in Alcohol too!! That can be a huge influence on the images you make too……….well try to make! So wearing Hawaiian shirts in places that serve alcohol can be a life affirming influence…….just be careful not to make it a life destroying influence……..bad taste in Hawaiian shirts can be the kiss of death!

B) Illustration is a super duper fab-dabulous fantastic lifestyle but it’s not for everyone. It’s like being the rock star of the design world, now please hand me my towel! Now have everyone in your class stand up and count off. Have every 5th person put his or her hand up and continue till everyone has counted off. Those who have their hands up may just make it to becoming illustrators. The rest of you may want to reflect on your hamburger flipping skills, or sales calls chatter, or if you’re a people person then maybe dental hygienist training? If all else fails you can always be an Art Director! Ha-ha

C) Don’t be Boring & Safe if for Sissies! Either will kill your career and Death is a long, long time.

D) Lastly, I’ve had an incredible and lucky journey being a freelance illustrator for over the last 20 years. I’ve had the fortune and honor to be an illustration instructor for 15 years, teaching first at the ACAD, and then OCAD, and now Sheridan. I’ve met and taught many individuals that have become illustrators. Real Illustrators. This is not a career or job but a life style, a life long one at that. Those students whom have a dedicated work ethic, a determined drawing discipline, and an endless imagination to explore will always succeed.

And finally, how do you keep inspired, overcome creative blocks?
FEAR! Then SCOTCH! Which creates EUPHORIA, then COURAGE! Which leads to INSPIRATION…or passing out! Then it’s back to FEAR, and once more suckling desperately at the teat of creativity before Life’s ongoing waltz of deadlines slaps you in the face …once more time. And that’s how I keep INSPIRED! As for CREATIVE BLOCKS it’s back to the scotch again...and the creative process!
WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS YOU ASK!! Fear, loathing, and then more fear! Hopefully sooner than later a glimmer of a visual starts to rattle around in the o’ noggin once the cold sweats have subsided, it's then I find my happy inner-place! Once out of the fetal position I instinctively take up a pen and start to draw. No set visual direction at first, just drawing to enjoy drawing...and not being in the fetal position helps tremendously as I can now use my hand to draw. Just draw whatever you like but enjoy it. It’ll remind you of your love for drawing and why you became a picture maker in the first place. We all have a story to tell, ours just happens to be a visual one, and it better be a damn fine one!

Ps…I really do love Art Directors & Designers, they’re so wild and craaaaazzy…plus they’re the ones that hire me! So if any of you are reading this…!!
Good Night and Good Luck!