Richard Grzela

Seppuku Resolve, artwork, Issue 15, June 1, 2011


Birthdate? Most folks think it's rude to ask their age... I have to abstain from this question as to not disappoint my fans.

When did you start doing artwork? I've been doodling since the age of 8, but I had my first paid gig at the age of 15 in my first year of High School which lead to a few free rides in university art classes in the Calgary Art Plus program. The advanced classes did nothing for my art skill. I did get a broad appreciation of art in the educational process though.

When and what and where did you first get published? My First two works hang in public spaces. One in a school in Texas which is a black and white illustration. Then I moved on to small publications and newsletters for corporations. My clients have been small and varied so I don't ever expect that to change. It seems that the low key work is better for overall constancy in my case. Surprisingly, over the years over a million people have seen my work directly or in passing.

Do you use reoccurring themes or images in your illustrations? Most of the work I do is very grounded, though I have done a fantasy type comic. My preference is the epic monsters and classical fantasy beings. My clients only want people, children, nature and animals. All the things that you would see in every day life. That is what your most likely to stumble upon.

What media do you like to work in? Why? I mostly use traditional pen and ink on paper. It is the most accessible and can be very portable. As technology improves I find myself moving towards more computer based illustration. Colors are almost exclusively on the computer. I love painting but most clients need a fast turnaround time. 

What artist's work do you most admire? How has this artist's work influenced you? Wow - This one always throws people as the influences have lead me into what people call a very comic art style. First is Red Grooms "Pop Artist" who really played with themes of people in every day life... Fantastic vision in his work. Then I have to say Ralph Steadman who is a very energized artist who tackled a lot of more controversial themes in life. His art is very energized and sends a shiver down my spine...very graphic. Salvador Dali for sure. He played on many ordinary objects and made the hard soft...his work is an adventure. He encourages others to simply play--that really is what his work says to me.

Comics are a factor too. Jim Lee, Sam Kieth, Todd McFarland. But I generally just experiment with traditional tools until I see something I like and try to reproduce the effect over and over again.

Biography
I started illustrating at the tender age of 15 and has maintained a sporadic, often intermittent client base. As hard as it might be to believe I have made the majority of my living in the field of Aquatics and Advertising and not illustration art. Currently I'm a stay at home father of 2 children who is often remind me that life is not so grim and dark.