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Richard Faust Fun Flights of Illustration

July 6, 2015

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Many of the finished illustrations by Richard Faust begin as doodles from his journal.

His quirky style is influenced by hours spent at vintage shops and flea markets hunting for mid-century oddities.  “ I like to get ideas from weird and wonderful junk because it reminds me not to take my work too seriously ”.  To stay loose and inspired, he also paints large abstract paintings using acrylic paint with collage for the gallery market.  He likes to create illustrated ‘Zines’ (self-published street magazines), and he‘s pretty awesome at singing karaoke.

After completing his BFA at The Columbus College of Art and Design, he spent twelve gratifying years illustrating in the American Greetings Design Studio.  These days, when he’s not doodling in a local coffee-shop, he works in his cozy home-studio that overlooks Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. What a lovely sunny room.

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I emailed Richard to find out a little more detail behind the fab illustrations.

What are your earliest memories of drawing and what do you most like about illustrating for a career ?  

As a kid, I would draw what I was most interested in. If I saw a movie I liked, I would draw the characters over and over again. I’d obsessively doodle and make things from whatever I could find around the house. There was never a time when I didn’t know I would be an artist. It became so woven into my identity that it stuck with me, even during the years I struggled to make a career out of it.

Now that I’m more established, my goal is to connect my personal work with the work I do professionally. I’ve learned that if it’s important to me – if I have a strong point-of-view about a subject – then it will resonate with people. That’s what I like about doing this as a career. I get to put my whole self into my work.

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Your work has many different styles, decorative, graphic, floral, real and imaginary, animalistic lol.  Which ways of illustrating appeals to you the most and why ?

It was a challenge to figure out what kind of illustrator I want to be. It took years and I’m still figuring it out. I think clients need to be reasonably certain of the kind of illustration they’ll get when they trust you with a project. So, I had to learn to be true to my core aesthetic even as I branched out into different areas. It helps to constantly ask myself “Does this look like me?” before I send off a finished job or add a piece to my portfolio. With that in mind, I try everything when it comes to subject matter for my illustrations. I focus on what’s right for the job – what tells the story – but always try to put my stamp on it.

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Are there ever commissions that come along that you feel don’t quite sit with the work you would like to do ?

When I get a job that’s not exactly glamorous or particularly interesting, I try to find something to like about it and build from there. Sometimes, if the client is flexible, I offer suggestions for a new approach. Chances are, if it feels wrong-headed or pointless, there’s a better solution out there. I think it’s important to improve the final result and give the client more than they expected.

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I really like the textile / decorative /ornate elements in your work. Do you see pattern as an essential part of the work you produce ? How did you come to develop this way of working ?

I create dozens of hand-drawn and digital patterns, then print them out so I have plenty of collage materials. This way, I get the patterns I like and don’t have to worry about copyright. Then I’m free to paste scraps in my journal, in paintings, or utilize the patterns digitally as I’m working in Photoshop.

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I can see your designs interpreting well into textiles and surface pattern areas and of course onto fabrics, have you ever thought along those lines ?

I’ve been working with a licensing agent for the past couple of years to help me find opportunities in those areas. I occasionally create ensembles that can be used on merchandise or wall art. It can be a slow and complicated process to license artwork, but possible deals are always in the works. I try to focus on creating my best work and leave the rest to the experts!

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Where would you most like to see your work and in what markets ? (children’s books, cookery, giftwrap/stationery etc ?)

It’s hard to predict or control what unique projects might come along. I never know if it’s going to be a beer can design, or a mural, or a re-useable grocery bag. I would eventually love to illustrate a book cover for one of my favorite authors. And while I’m dreaming, a New Yorker cover wouldn’t be bad either. I honestly take pride in even the smallest spot illustration though. It’s always a thrill to see my work when I go to Target or browse a magazine rack. That never gets old!

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Lovely soft muted palettes here.

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I see that you use sketchbooks a lot and like to do a doodle or three when you have the time. How important for you is working in this way ?

My journals have been a critical part of my daily routine and process for many years. It gets me out of my home-studio and gives me an excuse to overspend on good coffee. It’s a no-judgement zone where I’m free to write about my life, sketch ideas, make messes, and tell the truth. I think it’s important to have a place to put the questions, the bad ideas, the awful drawings, and the experiments. It’s a good way to shut off my impulse to pre-judge my work or talk myself out of trying something new.

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Do you have a preference when choosing whether to work digitally or to produce work by hand ?

I need a balance of both. I have a computer desk on one side of my studio and a drafting table on the other. For my editorial illustrations, it makes the most sense to work digitally, but I usually scan a drawing or painted background to get started. Some days, I like to get my hands (and entire studio) dirty by working on large paintings or mixed-media collages. By working traditionally, I discover happy accidents that I can use later when I’m in front of the computer. I also try to give my computer-generated illustrations enough imperfections to keep people guessing.

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I particularly enjoy these repeat pattern designs. I could see these being used on so many different products and there’s a wonderful sense of fun and light-heartedness about them, that just makes me smile.

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Many thanks to Richard for taking time out of his busy day to answer my questions. Do pop over to his Etsy shop here and his blog to see what’s new.

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