Ep.154: Should I be a freelancer or work for a studio with Richard Anderson

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jun 21, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Richard Anderson, a freelance concept artist, in London. He works on games, films, commercials and publishing with clients such as Marvel Studios, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, 20th Century FOX, and others.

Get in touch with Richard

Key Takeaways

“Be focused, but stay open, because even if you work on something doesn’t work out, you never know when you can use it in the future!”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to Richard for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Richard Anderson, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles

Hello everyone, Iva here and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists and create their eyes art related videos before we introduce our guests and go to the interview, let’s thank our sponsors. Have you heard of arts next art exists subscription box of unique high quality art supplies. Every month you discover new art products, limited edition tools, exculsive supplies and useful techniques. Go to artsideoflife.com/art snakes and use promo code art side 10 to get 10% discount. If you are a digital artist, you will love our stupid app which turns your iPad Pro into a virus graphics tablet for your Mac. So you can use older programs like Photoshop right on your iPad, go to artsideoflife.com/astropad and use promo code art side to get 10% discount. And now let’s go back to the interview. My guest today is Richard Anderson and in this episode we will also talk about the biggest differences between working for a studio and being a freelancer. Richard is a freelance concept artist originally from Seattle now living and working in London, UK. He has been working in the entertainment industry for over 10 years on games films commercials and publishing with clients such as Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. Universal Pictures 20th Century Fox StudioCanal and Random House you can find reaches concept art embedment games by Rocksteady studios. And also in movies such as Thor The Dark World Guardians of the Galaxy Edge of Tomorrow, Prometheus and 47 Ronin. And now please welcome Richard Anderson. And let’s get to the interview. So welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to reach into your Hi, hello. Oh, hello. And let’s just start with your background right away. And let’s just talk maybe about like biggest turning points how you got where we are now and maybe some of your creative outlets as a child.

Richard Anderson

Yeah. Well, I’ll yeah, I’ll start from the beginning I was always into, I think he was still drawing was the one thing that came pretty naturally to me, or at least people told me that so it kind of influenced and made me a I always enjoyed it. And so as a kid, and then later through high school, I was really bad in high school. And the only school I could get into was a animation school in Seattle. And so I moved to Seattle in 2000. I didn’t know what I wanted to study if it was graphic design or animation. When I got to the school, actually, somebody was like, Oh, you seem like much more of a you would enjoy animation and graphic design. So I went into that, and I wasn’t sure if it’s going to be 3d or 2d. And then from there, I studied, like, I went into actually 3d animation to get a job. And 2003 is when I’ve got my first studio job at ArenaNet. And I guess like things that kind of influenced me like any kid actually, I feel it’s funny because now I feel pretty privileged now to grow up without the Internet. Like I was kind of like that last generation, like before anybody had it. And I was largely influenced comic books were really big in the early 90s. And so like also like video game magazines, like it was the only place you could really see other people’s concept art or, like a lot of Sega games would come with the concept art in the books and you could see drawings like Mortal Kombat did and stuff and I remember you, you had a small selection and you would just look over him and over him. So I would definitely say comic books were probably the biggest influence for me. And I didn’t know artists I was just at that age where I didn’t even like reading them. I just love looking at the pictures and then I was just draw whatever I saw the pictures I just redraw whatever that page was. And yeah, I guess that was kind of a kicking off point. Oh, cool. And

Iva Mikles

so do you remember some comic books or cartoons or something which influenced you the most?

Richard Anderson

Well, I think now I look back and I didn’t really notice it at the time but it was like Todd Macfarlanes was did Spider Man back then before this is before the spawn stuff. And I remember I love Spider Man. I love the dynamic poses. You know, he was always like split and If there is an I wasn’t my older brother, his friend gave me a few comic books that were obviously like a little bit too adult for me like the Age of Conan. And I remember always loving those drawings as well like the inks. And yeah, besides that, I mean, Bill Watterson, there is Calvin and Hobbes, you know, the comic strip. Yeah, that was a really big one, too. Because every Sunday, there is this black and white strip every day in the newspaper. But Sunday’s Calvin and Hobbes got a whole half colored page. And as a kid, you always look forward to Sunday morning. Comics, you’re like, cool. And it was always like, Garfield. And Calvin and Hobbes were big ones. Yeah, yeah. And

Iva Mikles

what was maybe the moment for you when you decided, okay, I want to take this as a career or professionally, do you remember maybe the conversations with your parents or friends?

Richard Anderson

Yeah, well, the thing is, I was doing so bad in school, that I, it wasn’t like, it was one of those things. I wasn’t stupid. I just didn’t study, I was being lazy and kind of rebellious. And I just was like, oh, and honestly, I went to such a small school that I was a little bit like everybody just knew is like, oh, Richards, the artists kid, like he’s good at drawing. And in, I think I just that kind of went to my head a little bit where I was like, Oh, I’m just going to do that. But then I didn’t really know the steps to take. And my art teacher was just like, hey, you need to do something. And she just recommended that I go to Seattle Art Institute, because in the States, I don’t know how it is in Europe, but you need to, you need to have really good grades to get into college. And at this school, I didn’t need good grades there. Literally, I just needed the high school diploma. And I was like, okay, I can do that part. And so, yeah, and then, yeah, so I just like that kind of guided me to just be around like other kids and other students and kind of open up my whole world of like, it’s funny, I looked at pictures, like I said, in the stigma thing about concept art, but I didn’t know that was concept art. Do you know what I mean? Like back then you just were like, Oh, that like, that’s not a real thing. Like who I like, anything. media wise TV, movies, or video games seems like another world to me. So I was like, oh, no, like, all I know, is like, maybe I can work on comic books or something, you know. And so going to school in Seattle, and like meeting all these other kids that were from a lot bigger cities and stuff like that, that kind of opened up my world. And also the internet. Like I literally was never on the internet as a kid. So like that kind of like, well, there’s possibilities out there that you can do other things.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, exactly. And as you mentioned, like the schools in Europe, it really depends on the state and the school because some schools are paid by the state as well. So then you have better grades because they accept only few kids. And if you have a private one, some accepted or no, then, you know, it really depends.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, and I got so lucky, like, the school I went to was expensive. And I didn’t have any money, I just took out a giant loan, because in the States, you have to take out, like, the school is extremely expensive. And if you don’t want the parents paying for it. And I do remember, I did take a huge, you’re talking about like when I decided to do something. And I remember that summer after I graduated, I knew I had to get out of Montana. And I like so I just called up a bank and back then, like they would just give you money to go to school, because all they wanted to do is make money off of you. So they just like literally, giant loan. And I just was like I wrote a check to the school. And they’re like, oh, that will pay for three months of school. And I was like, Okay, I’ll take it. I was hoping that after three months, maybe there’ll be like, give me a scholarship. Or they’ll see that I’m very serious. And I want to work hard. That didn’t happen. But like, I was lucky enough. I got some friends and other family to help out and so on. So yeah, that was a big major decision. It was pretty scary. Yeah, because

Iva Mikles

the schools are expensive in the US that that’s really scary.

Richard Anderson

I was like there’s nothing like motivation, nothing like fear to motivate you to like work super hard.

Iva Mikles

But maybe it makes you as you said, like, work even more because

Richard Anderson

oh, man, it made me like, really, like I said, I was in a small school and I was like the best kid at drawing. But then I went to school and I remember my first day and I actually it wasn’t my first day. It was a Wednesday of the first week and I remember like all these kids are the same age as me. And I remember looking like we’re just in computer at some computer class and I just remember looking over at his sketchbook and just being like, what, like I just I wasn’t used to seeing kids my age draw that good where I was like, oh my god, I got to catch up like I am really bad. And it was it was an eye opener to like, get, you know,

Iva Mikles

what kind of helps you to develop your skills the most, you know, like, something like, did you have an aha moment like, Oh, if I do this, that my drawings are so much better

Richard Anderson

yet, I think honestly, it was back then it was life drawing, and life drawing for animation, if they teach you differently, like they teach you a lot more about expression and like kind of your, your, your idea of what you’re seeing and how best to convey that movement or that feeling and the weight. And I think that and I’ve never, I’ve never done it before, but the way they taught us in school and the way like I kind of like, you know, with my peers, like I said, I met a bunch of great kids in school. And it really drove us to, like, learn from each other. And I think life drawing, and I’m not talking like one hour a week, like we would go at least almost 16 hours a week. And it was a lot, you know, and we would always compete with how many pages we’re filling in. We’re doing the one minute poses 32nd poses. And yeah, I think that was a big turning point on like,

Iva Mikles

so how did you approach learning from the live drawing, because you know, it can be overwhelming for someone just doing it first time, you know, like, oh, there is anatomy, there is the post, there is the light, all of that.

Richard Anderson

There is so much stuff like I remember just I had no idea I just knew, you know, you see it in books. And then I’m just over here, I was dressed like boxes, like I was like, oh, that’s the box of the, you know, her shoulders are like this. I didn’t know what I was doing. I think we had a class where we were taught, like, you know, the line of motion. And like, you know, just describe what you see in two lines, basically. And then I think that’s just like steps that kind of gear you towards, like, if you can look at something and try to describe it. And just to and you know, in all of life drawing is like SS and C’s, that’s basically all it is. And so if you just place them in the right places, and I think over time, like I said, you’re doing it 16 hours a week, you know, by week 52 It’s you start to get better at it, you know?

Iva Mikles

Yeah, exactly. So you basically can start with these like action lines. And maybe sometimes you focus on the light and shapes of it or silhouettes. So you kind of have these like bunches of different observations. Yeah, blocking

Richard Anderson

out. Yeah, blocking, I guess seeing the seeing, I don’t know, in man, this is a hard works. Now I’m trying to think because I would see things sometimes a little bit differently, like and I tried to be like, light and dark as positive and negative shapes, like later on. And then over time, you tried to develop more of like your value system, and stuff like that. But uh, I think just the key from starting off as like, what I like to call high school art, which is just like you’re drawing other people’s stuff most of the time, you know, I think that little the little gesture drawings, and I’m not I’m talking we’re drawn very small, like they’d be like, one a tiny little sketches. Next pose, next pose. And I think that helped a ton on just like, you know, your just my character design and my character drawings.

Iva Mikles

It’s a great tip as well to draw a small when you’re just practicing the poses, because then you don’t get stuck in details or something like

Richard Anderson

that. No, exactly. I remember I thought I was supposed to have one drawing on every page, like, for instance, and then literally my sketches. my sketchbook totally started to change, like, over time, like where I was just like, it was nonsense. And everything I drew, I learned a big lesson with me is like, everything you draw is in precious like and that’s something that I had to realize, like don’t take so much time like it’s, it’s like going like learning an instrument or going to the gym. It’s like it’s just practice go go go and then you know, build something else.

Iva Mikles

So not every throwing has to be like amazing. And most

Richard Anderson

of them seriously, I It’s a shame I lost all my sketchbooks in a fire. But like those sketches I had, I had like 10 of these big books from school and I wish I hadn’t because they are just it’s a good I love showing it to students when they’re like I was like looking at like, there’s so bad it’s horrible, horrible. And it’s like don’t worry everybody like you can learn like it’s good.

Iva Mikles

Because every time I go for a live during sessions, I feel like oh my gosh. Oh, maybe this one sketches. Okay.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, it’s heartbreak. Yeah, you draw from three and a half hours to get like two drawings. Okay.

Iva Mikles

Before we continue, let’s thank our sponsors again. If you love discovering and trying out new art tools, you should check out our snakes. When you subscribe, you will get the books of high quality art supplies every month. I have already discovered so many amazing new products Limited Edition tools and exclusive supplies. is only available to subscribers as next definitely helps me to get more creative and try different art techniques every month. There is also artistic challenge where you can share your artworks using only the tools in the monthly box. You also get to join the art sex mix community where you can talk with other artists like you inspire each other and improve together. Well, this more is the Art Side of Life listener, you will get a special 10% discount with the promo code artside then. So don’t wait visit artsideoflife.com/art Thanks and use promo code art side them. If you’re a digital artist, you will love us to bed after bed is an app that turns your iPad Pro into professional viral is graphics tablet for your Mac. I use it to work with Photoshop and Illustrator to create highly rendered artworks for my clients directly on my iPad. I was super excited to discover AstroPad because the painting apps available on iPad don’t have all the functionality like Photoshop. With Astro pad, I can use all my favorite and custom made Photoshop brushes, which is super cool. Well, this more is an Art Side of Life
listener, you will get an exclusive 10% discount on Astro pad studio licensing. To get started, go to artsideoflife.com/astropad and enter the promo code art side. And now let’s go back to the interview. Let’s talk about your your art career. And maybe you can mention what was your like first art paid job after you know studying actually all of these classes and everything.

Richard Anderson

I think this is something that I think some people have different opinion on this. I just know from my experience, like I said, I took out a bunch of money for school. And it was very important that I was able to start paying that back, you know, three and six months after I graduate. So I knew that in school. So what I did is I knew I wasn’t good enough to become a concept artist. So what I did is I studied the 3d and like learned how to do like prop models and stuff like that. And I got a job about five months after school at ArenaNet. On, they’re just starting the Guild Wars franchise. And I was pretty lucky I was at the time I was the ninth person hired. And yeah, I just basically got into modeling rocks and doing ground textures. And like making wagons. And then I did that for about five years really. And I just worked on my concept and my drawing skills and painting skills on the side. And we had an art director, Daniel Dochu, that was really good at mentoring and like teaching us like, I’d bring art to him in the morning that I worked on after work. And then over time, he would just give me more concept. Jobs, you know, like stuff, a concept that and then I’d have to build whatever I concepted, which was pretty fun for me. And so that was my first job. And after five years, I moved into the concept department. And then in I worked at ArenaNet for about eight and a half years. So I don’t know if that long story

Iva Mikles

short, like it’s, it’s really good to see like, what is the transition? Because also sometimes when just people mentioned like, Oh, I just started here. And when you mentioned like you were working on the concept art and showing it around as well getting a feedback. So there is the transition that they see also that you’re dedicated. And you know, and just want to work on that.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, well, especially when you got teachers. And then let me mention I was working with, I was really lucky, our concept team started building. I wasn’t concepting yet, but I was an environment guy. But we had these other concept artists that were helping, you know, teach us and give us feedback. And it does. I guess that’s where I hear some people say that, Oh, no, you should just go for exactly what you want to do. Like you should just go into this. And that works for some people. But I was like some of us like I’m like, yeah, good luck. But I need a job. Like I need to get into the industry somehow. So and then I think it worked out because I learned a ton from being in that pipeline as an environment artist as well, that I feel like there’s a little bit of an advantage, you know, in the long run, but

Iva Mikles

yeah. And how was the transition for you now from the studio job. We’ll be talking about a bit before the recording, and what do you do now? So what was going through your head when you went to do this big change?

Richard Anderson

Well, I mean, I’ve worked in a couple of different studios now. So I went from games to film in 2011. And I worked at effects house MPC. And then I work that friend store which is another effects house and then after that I went back to games at Rocksteady and I think after all that studio stuff I used to love working in the studio with other people and everything is fun but my transition now to freelance now work from home I’m maybe I’m becoming an old man but I’m like I literally I love I wake up way earlier and I’ve found that like most of my like creative energy is the strongest usually from Like six in the morning to like 11. And then it dies down and then later in the afternoon, so I’m not like on a studio time where I need to be like they’re kind of picking the time that I get to be. And I think I just figured out that I work better and I’m more focused at home. And I don’t feel I’m not distracted as much either. Which I mean, maybe it’s just some people think that they distracted they want to play games with their at home or something. But I honestly, the only distraction I have is my cat, which like will bother me

Announcer

to know exactly.

Iva Mikles

If someone is like, kind of in this like start of their career, like they’re already drawing, and they’re thinking like, Oh, should I go freelance? Or should I be in a studio? Maybe you can mention, like a comparison, like, what is good about each and then people can think like, what is good fit for them?

Richard Anderson

Oh, yeah. Like, what’s awesome about the studio life is you have a guaranteed paycheck every month or every two weeks, however it is it which is super good when you’re starting out. And then there’s a bunch of benefits of being around a bunch of people that you and things that you wouldn’t expect to learn from, which is really good, then I think it’s just it’s good to experience it, like at least a couple of times, or something just might open your eyes to honestly it might even open your eyes to something else you didn’t know you want to do. Like you’re like you think this is an in you. There’s another position that you kind of excel at in the studio life does that freelance, I will say the differences is that you are cut off and you will have to make a point to go see and meet up with people and like peers and like get feedback. Like you don’t have that. Like I said, when I first started out, I learned so much from everybody around me. And now I am cut off. And I do realize that but it’s Yeah, I think the bonus of there’s a big learning side and then freelance. It’s just it is it’s just really nice to have been in charge of your time clock.

Iva Mikles

So as you mentioned already, like how your day looks like a bit, maybe you can take us through like your planning of the either the day or a week or is there something you do daily like routine? Yeah.

Richard Anderson

So my first year of freelance, or almost my like my first half year, my daily routine was I kind of knew I had a weekly delivery on Monday morning, US time. So I’m in London. So I know I have to deliver by noon, basically by noon, my time for the US to get it. And that was once a week. And so I would partial up my time. And like I said, I started to I start to wake up earlier and I just wake up at like about six or seven and I go and I just start work right away at the computer. And then usually around 1030 I like go to the gym. And then I come back and I get lunch. And then I start working again. And it kind of clears out that weird gap of time, like I told you where I know that I start to Slack down. And then yeah, in the morning, I have a whole routine, like, I make sure all my podcasts are set in order that I listened to them. And then And then pretty much after that I start to die down and about three or four, my literally, my brain just starts to shut down. And then if I have multiple projects, I will make sure that I set aside where I’m like, I’m working on this for three hours. And then I’m not touching it. And I’m working on the other thing for three hours. And if I fail at that, you just it’s kind of natural. You just have to have that relationship with your clients to say, Oh, I’m going to be late with this, or can I get some more time or etc. This last six months, I’ve been working with Marvel, and that’s more of a daily delivery, like checkup time. So it’s a lot more like studio life like I’m at, I make sure I’m at the computer at eight o’clock. And I basically make sure I’m at the computer basically from eight to five because we have Skype meetings or something will pop up. And that’s a lot more exact. I feel like I’m in the studio because I have to be like on hand all the time or something like that. So but yeah, I’m excited to get back to my just, I get a few things in and then I judge when I want to work on a

Iva Mikles

girl. Do you have a studio at home or do you have to travel somewhere to Work From No, no,

Richard Anderson

I just worked from home. Yeah, yeah, I didn’t start really a studio. It’s literally like my work desk. Yeah. It’s like in the living room. So

Iva Mikles

because some people like to have at least like a second three, you know, so you like go there and into different spaces.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it would be nice. I think sometimes that would be nice in London right now. It’s a little bit hard to have that opportunity.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, true to it. It’s like a busy everything is expensive and crazy. Yeah, books already by other people. Right, exactly. Yeah. And so how do you do your networking now when you are not at the place of the studio, or where you weren’t before is that all the context from previous jobs or conventions?

Richard Anderson

I started to I started doing freelance for like book covers and stuff like 2007, I think, yeah, about. And so it’s been like, you know, 10 years, I’ve been kind of building clients, like, I just went freelance last year. So over time, I’ve been taking on like, night jobs and weekend jobs constantly when I could just so I could build that up. So that was the number one networking there. So it is people that I’ve worked with before most of it. Now, I stay quite active. If you see on Pinterest, or anything that you see artists posted, it’s always coming from art station. And I think that they basically kind of run the internet now as far as people looking for artists, because everybody will go artistic, more than your website, which is it’s important to, I think, stay active on there. And like, make sure that you are putting quality out there, as well. And then, conventions are really good to meet up with any sort of producers or directors or people that are looking or like even meeting people that they’ll remember your name. Or they’ll know that you’re interested, like, yeah, sometimes it’s funny, because people are like, they’re looking for work, but then nobody even knows it. So they like, and sometimes another thing is I write emails, I’ll just straight up ask, like, Hey, this is and I’ll throw in like three pieces of art. And I’ll be like, Hey, I just don’t if you’re ever interested. I you know, like, there’s commercials, there’s advertising companies say this is what I do. And that if you’re you know, so I kind of just staying active on all fronts, it seems like

Iva Mikles

yeah, because like our station is more like we’re kind of studios are looking for like a professionals because I feel like like Instagram is more than other artists, or they’re looking for inspiration. So many like jobs. From there.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, I will tell you this. Instagram is a place where I constantly I used it as an exercise thing just to get better. Because I was always working on the computer. And I had my sketch and I said I’m only doing traditional stuff, and drawing everyday events I see kind of in the news or whatever, just to get me not drawing the same stuff all the time, like, and then I thought over time it would build up and maybe I would get some work from it. But I have never gotten any work from Instagram. You will find a bunch of artists and inspiration from it for sure. Yeah,

Iva Mikles

I think you can sell well, the art prints if you will have the support from other artists. So that’s like the place to sell that maybe and then the studio life that the art station and if you’re a graphic designer, then maybe Behance or you know, it’s kind of like a split.

Richard Anderson

Yes. See, that’s something I’m not I’m not quite good. I’ve never tried to sell anything on Instagram. So who knows if it will, but yeah, I’m on there all the time.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, most of the artists are actually working for that’s quite well. So you can have also like Patreon, and then you can do that, then you can do it through the YouTube. There are so many options.

Richard Anderson

Exactly. I mean, yeah, the networking thing is, it’s a lot. There’s tons of stuff.

Iva Mikles

And what about the conventions you mentioned? mentioned? Are there some which are favorite? You go to

Richard Anderson

Yeah, I go to the the London industry workshop every year. And obviously I’m in London and sometimes I take part and stuff and it’s just a great set of guys. And then I like it that they always kind of grab. I feel like they grab really good guys that are lesser known, like they’re not just like getting Oh, who has the most followers on Instagram, let’s get that guy or something. They usually they kind of go out and then they also grab really interesting like, like people who are costume designers like they’re not concept art. They have nothing to do with their, you know, for film and it’s like people from different worlds that you would work with. And so that’s an excellent one. And then I went to the Trojan horse one in Portugal, which was it was pretty amazing. Like you get to see these superstars and stuff that is really fun. And it’s a you know, it’s a beautiful place and there’s so many people and that one yeah, that’s super fun. And I mean, you just people are really open at all of them. And they really liked to like chit chat and stuff. I think all the ones I went to in the states are I don’t think they don’t want anymore. There’s like back you know, like 10 years ago, but um, those are the two that I know the most of that are pretty good. I heard I’ve heard really good things about the one in Croatia as well. Yeah, no, that one yeah, yeah,

Iva Mikles

exactly. That one. It’s in June, I believe so. Yeah.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, I heard that. I’ve never been but I’ve heard good one good things from it. Yeah,

Iva Mikles

I heard about from some people that they are going there. DCR as well. So yeah,

Richard Anderson

and then there’s the one in what is it? Warsaw or Krakow? Or this one? I

Iva Mikles

haven’t been to know. I don’t know.

Richard Anderson

What does that promise land or something like that? This one? I don’t know yet. Okay, that’s all good. No, you should look it up. Because I have a few friends. They all work for The Witcher and stuff. And the Yeah, they all go up there. And it seems like a I mean, I really want to check that one out, actually, next year, which I think I heard it was good as well. So

Iva Mikles

cool. Cool. Yeah, there are so many. And they’re kind of well hidden. Sometimes. I don’t know. Even when you research on Google, like kind of conventions, you’ll never find them.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, it’s funny. The comic, the one thing I will say comic book conventions can be good if you get an artist alley, and you’ll see and you’ll like it gets you. I’m kind of really tied into the video game and film stuff right now. But then I do notice. Like I went to spectrum live in Kansas City last year, which is a total geared towards illustration, and sci fi and you know, it’s a different world from the video games and everything. And so yeah, you’re right. There’s so many out there that you kind of, like, get stuck in your own world. And if these conventions help you get out of that, like one, you know, media.

Iva Mikles

And when you go there, do you have your table and you’re selling your art or you just walk around?

Richard Anderson

No, I go and I’ll usually just meet up with there’s usually somebody else I know or something. But yeah, you usually going then people are always showing their art. And then you just go up and chitchat. And then I mean, if you’re really interested in showing you have your own little portfolio with you. Most people have it right there on their phone or their iPad now so.

Iva Mikles

And when you were talking as well, when you started with the book covers, how did you start with that? Did you have an agent? Or was it somehow like random?

Richard Anderson

So this is where I guess this is a good kickoff to say it’s good to be involved in these like online competitions, which they still go on. But I remember they used to be really big for a site concept. art.org used to have this forum and they used to do this. I think it was every six months or every year they would do this competition called the Thunderdome and they gear you up against another concept artists. And they had some judges. So Anyways, long story short, I did a couple pieces. And I it got voted better. Like one of the big names has gone against bigger names. And they voted mine over the big name. Yeah, they gave me was just gave me some recognition where they’re like, Oh, look at this one, one and stuff. And so and so anyways, that kind of I didn’t win or anything the final thing but it just helped a few pieces of mine kind of get floating out in the internet more. And so. So anyways, I went to a I was at a grocery store next to my house, and they have a little book section of sci fi books in blah, blah, blah. And I looked and I was like, I know this guy and I saw the cover and I knew I didn’t know the guy just knew the guy from the internet like concept. I’ve seen his art before. And I was like, oh, and I looked back in the I looked at who published it. And then I went home and I checked out to see who the art director of the publisher was. And then I just wrote her an email, which is Irene Gallo from tour, and I said, Hi, my name is Richard Anderson. I love artists and I’m interested in I sent her a few pieces. And one of the pieces was the one in the Thunderdome thing. And she goes, I know that’s who you are. Because I have a different name. She’s like, that’s who you are. I remember I love this piece. And so this one I’m saying the full thing she saw that piece before, but then I I don’t think she would have ever written me. But like I wrote her to say, Hey, if you ever have a book cover, you know, something that might fit for me, will you please let me know I’m interested. And then yeah, and then two months later, she gave me a book cover. I don’t think turned out good. But it was my first one.

Iva Mikles

But it’s awesome to see these connections, you know, like, Oh, you did this before. If you haven’t done that, this wouldn’t happen maybe.

Richard Anderson

Exactly. That’s the same as like being active and being in the competition and getting your stuff out there and then kind of taking the initiative to reach out and just be like, let them know because these people they’re busy. They’re not they don’t have time to search the internet. Really. I honestly you see him if they don’t like somebody just click click click like they got stuff to do. So sometimes it helps to just be like, here I am right here.

Iva Mikles

Like hello. And what about your project if you are starting a new project, either for a client or for yourself? How does your process look like maybe do you do like sketches? Or do you go directly to color or maybe you can take us through your steps.

Richard Anderson

But concept side of things is a little bit different like in studio and outside the studio. I think the easiest one to describe is like book covers because the other ones are so spontaneous and organic half the time I take this with book covers, I usually get a small brief about a paragraph or page to get the idea. And then they tell me like, what they are kind of thinking for the cover. They’re like, we want her, him and him. And you know, he’s got a sword, she’s got an axe or something. And then, yeah, I go off of that. And I find a few pieces, I tried to nail it down to about three or four inspirational, like, either the lighting and a certain photograph or another piece of art that kind of inspires me to the just kind of the lighting or the look or the field that we’re going for. And I just find a few of those that kind of inspire me. And then I do, yeah, either. Sometimes it depends a color sketch, or black and white sketch. And then I do about three or four. And then I’ll send them off to the publisher, and then they’ll get back to me and be like, Oh, we really like three. But can you kind of take the poses from number four, and put them in number three, and then you just go check with that. And then I start fresh with the color one, and then about midway through, I’ll just double check and send it to him and be like, Hey, this is what it’s looking like, what do you guys think? And then they’ll be like, Oh, can you actually brighten it up behind this character and make sure that we’ve got room for the, because sometimes certain authors are really, you know, quite famous. So they need that their name, almost the same size as the title. So they need to make sure that the picture is fitting, you know, within there’s enough to read. And so that you make those adjustments, and then you move on to final. And then there’s another tweak after that usually. And then that’s it. But that’s usually how I go with book covers. And it’s not that much different from concept art, like some of the concept artists. Yeah, so it’s about the same, like they’ll sketch the fine art.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, because for concept art, what do you usually do? Do you do also environments with characters? Or do you get like, okay, design the whole set of characters? Or what is your usual specialty?

Richard Anderson

Like, so, at Rocksteady, I did almost I did everything, like the characters props, like from the smallest things to changing the paint job on the Batmobile to you know, this, like little phone that he you know, has to you know, I’m like, There’s a previous design of poison ivy, I just had to redesign her legs, you know, so you’re not even like, it’s like it’s chunks. Sometimes. Reza ghoul, I designed a whole brand new one that, you know, is kind of attached to the previous game, but not attached. You know, it’s like, we want the new one. But it has to look like the old one. So that’s how that jumps around. And the other some other concept artists usually just like a look and feel it’s more of almost like inspiration, John stuff for like pitches and whatnot. So

Iva Mikles

like, why blues and color tones and more than these, as well.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, it’s more of like, first impressions. Like, if they put it up on the screen, in front of four or five people, they instantly are like, oh, yeah, I get it. Yeah, playing too much

Iva Mikles

like a combination and mood board of like, oh, maybe we use this icon with this thing. And with this.

Announcer

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Iva Mikles

So what is your maybe favorite tool to work with? Is it the digital? Or do you like the sketches, or maybe some tool which you cannot live without?

Richard Anderson

Oh, I mean, it’s Photoshop, in general, for it’s like a sand, or Photoshop is just a sandbox, where you can just do and play with everything. And then now it’s even getting crazier with all the 3d stuff you can do in the animation things. And I mean, that’s number one, for sure. With me, and actually, I’ll say my Cintiq. So I’ve got a setup where I’ve got a Wacom tablet here, like my, on my right side, with my mouse on the right to that, but then I have my Cintiq because there’s certain things that you just draw better from, you know, hand the paper. And so especially like, I don’t know, if you see like certain strokes, I like to get like, the aggressive strokes. And like when I’m drawing figures, or like, especially motion or anything, and then when I just send like manipulating photos and like doing a lot like more simple reactions with my hand. I’m on the walk them and then it’s like, I just switch back and forth. So yeah, I would say definitely the Cintiq and the Wacom tools that I wanted. Yeah, you

Iva Mikles

have like inputs, and then like Cintiq was 2322 or something.

Richard Anderson

It’s 22. I will tell you this, I had the 24 at work, and I can’t tell the difference. I literally that I know the size is not the same, but it literally looks the same and it feels the same like and I for years I’ve worked on the 24 and then I come home to 20 and I can’t tell the difference

Iva Mikles

because I was also deciding before like 20 to 24 hours like, yeah, no one’s telling me to come in.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, one is like $1,000 cheaper or something like that. So I was like, oh, yeah, yeah, it was. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought for sure.

Iva Mikles

I love it. Cool. Cool. Yeah, I have it as well. I really like it. Cool. And so if you think about back to your career, and like, Is there something you would advise yourself, you know, as a young starting artists, you know, something you wish you knew?

Richard Anderson

Hey, yeah, I think I wish so. Yeah. It’s, it’s hard to look back and go, Oh, I regret this. Or I regret that because it’s like, I kind of, I kind of have that thing where it’s like, Man, I worked really hard to even be where I’m at. But I do. I do wish I kind of that worked harder. But I wish I had a little bit more confidence and focus on moving towards things quicker, rather than being like, Oh, I like where I’m at. Like, I’m happy with my job right now. And I wish I kind of had a little bit more of like, no, like you said, I need to get together and try to get some good stuff. And like, maybe some prints and just go to more comic cons and do that sort of thing. I wish also another thing you know, I told you as a 3d artist, I wish I stuck with 3d a little bit more. Like I wish I didn’t, I just I think I just got sick of it. And I just was like, Oh, I don’t need to work on that. And then I just stopped for like, four or five years. And then I came back and I was like, oh my god, thanks a change. You know, and I didn’t pay attention to all like the technology is changing so fast. Like all the software, that I think that’s something I regret that I didn’t keep up with it. I’m I’m getting much better at it. Now. I was like, I love that was one thing. The reason why I went freelance as well is because at work, I wasn’t getting the opportunity to learn new things. I was just always having to work and freelance now. It’s so fun. There’s so much cool software out there that you can just mess around with and

Iva Mikles

play. Maybe there is a good start now with VR and then you can go to design stuff in 3d and pain in virtual reality.

Richard Anderson

Jama. Do you know Jama? JIRA. Yeah, I still don’t goddesses last night, but yeah, it’s all right. He’s all right. Cool. He’s always telling me like he’s like, I’m gonna show you you called. I’ll show you how to do it. I’m like, I know. And I think I would love to I just, I need to get it set up at some point. Just even play with it. Yeah,

Iva Mikles

it’s actually it’s really fun. And I don’t think it’s really hard to do there just to get used to it. And oh, yeah, I think you’ll be amazing at it. You should do it.

Richard Anderson

I’ll tell you what, I’ll look into it. Oh, perfect.

Iva Mikles

I’m looking forward to see. And so if we think about like money, so they also like, what are the things you would maybe improve in the past or something like that? Is there a difficult time from your art career, you know, which you kind of learned the most from like a key takeaway?

Richard Anderson

Yeah, key, I think a key takeaway was like, when I moved from games to film, and it was a big move, also being I’ve never been to London or anything, and I moved from Seattle to London. And then I was in the film industry and special effects, especially and that was a big change. Like I said, all the new software, I’ve never even heard of that. I was like, What is this and just the way the company works, and like, the way the pipeline works, and how like, all these different new techniques that how to do like, you know, more matte concepts and photo manipulation and stuff like that. And that was a, it was an it was so hot, it was really, really high paced as well, like it was, I was no longer in that comfort zone of like, oh, yeah, I’ve got about two, three days to do this. It was like, No, we’ve got a meeting tomorrow. You know, move it, move it. And that was a very, it was a huge learning curve. And yeah, it was very difficult and stressful.

Iva Mikles

So that was the adjusting to the new environment and new work

Richard Anderson

everything. Yeah, there’s just the whole like when you’re doing the whole industry, and adjusting to like, the demands was very, it was very challenging. Yeah, it was funny, because it wasn’t so much. It was like there was this art side where it’s like, you know, when I started, like, I totally started out drawing and stuff like that learning curve to get to a professional level was so steep. And this one was another learning curve that was just different. It wasn’t like, Oh, are you good at drawing? It was like, No, it’s like, you need to recognize every single thing that’s in this picture. We have to like make and it cost money. And it’s like, you know, like, Oh, are we putting like I remember I put this these birds obviously it’s a sky so I put some birds and they they’re looking it’s all going to be visual effects and blue screen. I knew right away the guy came in. He’s like, are we paying for birds now? And I was like, oh, like, you know, you don’t think about these things like that you just automatically put in stuff. So yeah. Birds out of here.

Iva Mikles

They’re not necessary for the story. Okay. And so to London, you move that you because you got the job or you decided to move to London and then you found the job.

Richard Anderson

No, I got the job. Actually, in the Seattle, my wife is French. And so she was living in Seattle with me. And we’ve been wanting to move back for or I’ve never even moved here. But we kind of want to move closer to her family. And out of the blue. This opportunity came up MPC wrote me a mail and offered me a job. And it was Yeah, so we just took it. Go cool. Yeah. So

Iva Mikles

it was Yeah, easier to move as well, when there was something already like kind of Oh, absolutely. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. And what about the future? And maybe what would be your dream scenario, you know, in like five to 10 years, like maybe projects you would like to work on? And like, everything around?

Richard Anderson

That was? That’s a hard question. I know that you kind of prepped me a little bit, but I was like, Man, I don’t know that one. That’s the

Iva Mikles

school’s goals.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, no, I was when earlier I had so many, like the five year plan. I had all these skills and stuff. And then now I’m just kind of being like, what is that plan? Like? You know, you put pressure on yourself? And I just, I think I honestly, well, one of them is I would like to try my hand at like graphic novels or comic books. I haven’t, I’ve never done it. I don’t know exactly how, but I was just going to try to build a portfolio of it, and then just reach out to comic book companies and see if there’s an opportunity. That’s more of the project based. I think, on the other side of stuff is I’m hoping to this freelance thing works out for me, and I’m still able to work from home someday I’ll have my own studio or row, of course. Yes. We’ll see if it opens up. I think. Yeah, that’s really, it’s really tough. I mean, that’s literally about how far I mean, I just I kind of, and I, I would like to be in a spot on freelance as well, where I get to pick and choose what I get to do. Like, I don’t have to take stuff just because it pays money. You know, I want to be in a spot where I get like, Oh, that looks more fun. Or this is nice, you know? And hopefully in five years old. Yeah. Been doing that. Yeah. You said in 100 years? I don’t know.

Iva Mikles

Everyone needs to think about that as well. Like, what is the legacy? Oh,

Richard Anderson

yeah. The legacy? I don’t know. That’s a hard one. That one That one kind of presses? Because it’s like, oh, do I you know, it’s like legacy is? Yeah, that was that was tough.

Iva Mikles

It can be very tough.

Richard Anderson

Yeah. Honestly, it would probably be pretty simple. It’d be so far. It would be like a ship. I don’t even know books will see it yet. I think books will still be around, possibly. But think about like some of these book covers I’ve done or something if they’re just set up somewhere. And then some people still like them, or they still catch the eye would be like, Okay, that’s cool. Like, that’s

Iva Mikles

good. That’s perfect. Yeah, like, and when you create more of your own books in the future, that would be super awesome.

Richard Anderson

Hey, there you go. Sit and think about that one.

Iva Mikles

And before we finish, maybe you can share the last piece of advice and key takeaway what people should remember from this discussion, and then we slowly finish.

Richard Anderson

Yeah, advice would be I think, yeah, yeah, that was a tough one too, because I feel like it kind of gave, but um, I would say, stay open to, like, don’t get tunnel vision. Okay, this is hard, because I don’t want to tell people like it’s good to stay focused on what you want. Exactly. But I think it’s like important sometimes I come across people are like, I just want to be this or this. And I’m like, stay open. Because even if you work on something for like, six months, you’re going to learn a lot that you can still use to move wherever you want to go and be especially when you’re starting out make sure you’re like God be so open to criticism, like literally just that’s the one thing is like young artists and like if you’re not open to criticism, and a lot of like guys, they they don’t want to waste their time on you know, they’re just like, No, you can figure it out yourself, you know, so and yeah, just yeah, stay focused, but just make sure you’re always open

Iva Mikles

because he also along the way you You might see like, Oh, I didn’t like this or do you like this better as you say, like, learn exactly like think about,

Richard Anderson

I always think about how much I’ve changed even as a person in like, the last 10 years, you know, and like what I used to like, and then I’m like, That’s what I mean is like, especially when you’re young, I remember just being like, 20 or something. I’m like, what I thought and I like dammit, like, you just you change so much. And you know what, you’re what you’re into and stuff. So it’s just, yeah. Oh, perfect.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. So we keep learning and growing in the art industry and as a person as well. Yeah, keep

Richard Anderson

your just keep your head open for idea, you know, opportunities and stuff.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. Perfect. Awesome. And thank you so much, again for being here. Thank you for having me. It’s fun. It goes so nice. And thanks, everyone who joined us well today and see you in the next episode. Cheers. Hey, guys, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate you being here. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a couple of free artists resources ready for you on the website as well. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher so I can reach and inspire more artists like you. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Continue to inspire each other and I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer

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Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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