Randy Bishop

Where did you grow up and when did you say to yourself: ‘’I want to be an Artist’’?
I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. 

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
My family has always been very supportive. My mother is a very creative individual and so creativity was something that was always encouraged in my parents house. I was convinced at one point that if I ate spinach like Popeye, (from the can, not the fresh stuff!), I'd be strong enough to do just about anything. So one day my parents bought me a can of spinach. After choking down a couple of bites I decided I'd try to lift my dad off of the ground. Lo and behold, it worked! My dad used the back of a kitchen chair to hoist himself off the ground as I lifted him from where my little arms reached around his knees. It was the best feeling in the world.

When it came to pursuing a career in the arts, my parents were still very supportive and encouraging, despite the fact that I could tell that the idea worried my dad a bit. Despite his reservations, he has encouraged me to be my own man and he and my mother are always there to cheer me on.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I watched a lot of Disney growing up. We had all the classic Disney films which were the most glorious thing in the world to my tiny little boy brain. I also watched all of the old Disney TV cartoons like Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers, Tale Spin, and Darkwing Duck. I also watched a lot of other shows like Looney Tunes (I loved Chuck Jones), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Biker Mice From Mars, Street Sharks, X-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man, and more. TV in the nineties was great to me. 

When I got a little older I started getting more into comic books which had an impact on the way I drew things in a big way. I started thinking more about anatomy and wanting to learn how to draw a little more realistically as a result.

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? What helped you prepare to become the artist we know today?
I went to school at BYU-Idaho which is a little school in Rexburg, Idaho about half an hour from where I grew up. They have a great staff in their art department. College opened my eyes to a lot of things that would have taken me a lot longer to learn on my own, I think. 

After a few years there I took a couple of semesters online at the Academy of Art University. Taking classes from an art school was a very different experience and taught me a few more things that I wouldn't have learned at BYU.

Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
My favorite things to draw changed depending on what I was into at the moment. I drew a lot of Ninja Turtles and Looney Tunes growing up because that's what I watched a lot of as a kid. I also remember drawing a lot of lions when the Lion King came out. I've always liked drawing characters. I never really felt inclined to draw anything else like cars, spaceships, etc. 

Part of what I love about character design is the emotion that you can squeeze out of characters. You can convey an emotion with a painting of anything really, I've been moved by paintings of landscapes, still life, even concept art for vehicles or buildings, but characters are alive. You can pack so much punch into a piece simply by adding a human or animal figure into it.

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you're designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
The process I go through tends to change from project to project. Every project is different. Every client is different. Some clients have very specific needs for their project and so I try to fulfill those needs in the best way I can. Sometimes that means approaching things a little differently.

Generally when I'm sketching a new character I like to start with the face. Part of the reason for that is that I love drawing faces. The other part of that is that the design of the face can inform the design of the body and vice versa. 

If I'm designing a cast of characters I like to start with general body types so that I can get a good idea of what they'd look like in a lineup before I start diving in to the characters individually.

What is your process in coloring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I like to color in Photoshop. Photoshop is a great tool that allows you to achieve a wide range of results. Photoshop is the program that I first learned digital painting on and I've had a hard time using anything else.

I used to really enjoy painting traditionally as well. I haven't done it for a long time because of the nature of the work I do, but I really enjoyed oil painting. There's something really cool about physically putting paint onto a canvas. The style that I painted in traditionally is completely different than the style I paint with now. Oil paint is just begging to be plastered on in goops, I think. It's a really fun process.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The part of the job that is the most fun for me is the beginning. I love doing loose exploratory sketches of characters because in the beginning there are fewer rules. It's really fun to discover a character as you're designing her and see her evolve as you go along. Part of what I love about the design process is the push and pull between the character design and the story you're working on. The story informs your character design, but then you discover things about the character as you're designing them as well which changes how you see the story. It's a really fun process.

For me, the hardest part of the job is arriving at a final design and sticking to it, especially when it comes to personal projects. The more you know about the story and the character, the harder it is to nail down a design. 
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with,
My typical workday usually consists of drawing until I can't anymore. Most of the work I do consists of rough character sketches which is the way I like it. I really enjoy the loose, iterative work at the beginning of the character design process, but it can be mentally exhausting. It's crazy to me how much brain power the creative process requires. Every so often I have to take a break from designing specific characters and just doodle something for fun. It helps me to relax and gives my brain a chance to recover before I dive back in again.

I work at home as a freelancer so most of the people I'm collaborating with are art directors or artists at different studios and companies. Being a freelancer has given me the opportunity to work with a variety of people which has been great.

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
One of the greatest things about the art and entertainment industry is that everyone for the most part is excited to discover new artists and new projects. I'm consistently amazed by the talent that saturates the art world and it seems like I'm constantly learning from artists that I admire.

I've learned a lot from studying other artists' work. For example, I was having a hard time with hair at one point so I went on an Alphonse Mucha study binge. Alphonse Mucha is a genius at using hair as a design element in his work. The way he stylizes curls and strands of hair is really inspiring to me so I decided to try to emulate his style for a while until I could take what I learned from him and apply it to my own work. I do that whenever I'm having a hard time with any subject. I find someone who is amazing at it and try to learn from the way they do things.

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
One of my favorite characters I've created is for a personal project. His name is Aurech. He's a character that I tend to project myself onto a lot so his design was important to get right. There were a lot of things that I wanted his design to communicate about his personality so I spent a lot of time thinking them over. He's probably the most carefully and deliberately designed character I've done.

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
A lot of the work I've done hasn't seen the light of day yet, but I've contributed to a few projects that I think are worthwhile. The Masters of Anatomy books are a great resource that I've been privileged to contribute to and they've been well received by people who have bought them. I've also worked on a number of mobile games, a few animated TV show pitches, and a couple of small animated movies that are mostly still under NDA.

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I love the idea of running my own animation studio. I have a lot of stories that I'd like to tell and I love animation as a medium for storytelling. I've seen a lot of great indie animation projects that just don't have the money to evolve into what they could and it would be great to be able to be the guy to say, "Hey, I can help you do that!"

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I've never worked in a studio so I can't say for sure what I'd prefer, but freelancing gets a little lonely. I love being around other artists and feeling the energy that comes from collaborating on something, but it's hard to get that as a freelancer. At the same time, freelancing has been pretty good to me. I enjoy picking which jobs to work on and which clients to work for. Each situation has it's pros and cons, I think.

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Art block is a tough thing to crack sometimes. Something that helps me is to read a lot of fiction. Whenever I'm engrossed in a good book it helps my mind to open up and I feel more creative all the time. There's something about immersing yourself into someone else's imaginary world that helps you to think of things differently, I think.

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there’s so many options to choose and when you’re young, sometimes the only thing you know is just that you love to draw: what should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
I had a hard time knowing what I wanted to do when I got to college. I knew I wanted to be an artist but I enjoyed so many different things that I had a hard time making up my mind. It helped to explore different mediums learning from professionals. 

Something that can really help is to sit down with a professional and talk about the things you love doing the most. Getting an outsider's opinion on your work helps a lot in deciding what you should do. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day that has recently decided he wants to pursue a career in the arts. He asked me for my opinion on the direction he should go and when I told him he has great potential for a concept art portfolio he was shocked. I showed him some examples of concept art that I thought matched his aesthetic and he was pleasantly surprised.

I thought I wanted to be a comic book artist for a little while because I enjoyed graphic novels and comics so much. Turns out I hate drawing comics. It took me a couple of jobs working on comic books to figure it out, but that's what it took for me.

What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
Making a living as an artist is not an easy thing. There's a lot of work out there but there are also a lot of capable artists out there. In order to make it as an artist you have to be willing to put in a lot of effort

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs?
There are a lot of artists that I admire; too many to count. My favorite weekend of the entire year is the CTN animation expo. Artists who work in the animation industry across the world get together to gawk at each other's work and enjoy each other's company. It really would be hard for me to narrow my favorite artists down to a few.

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I honestly don't know what's going to happen to hand drawn animation. I think there are still enough people out there who love it and love doing it that it will stick around for a while, but I don't see the big studios reviving it in their films anytime soon. 

Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
Social media has been a great resource for me personally. If it weren't for social media my career wouldn't be anywhere near what it is now. The downside of social media is that it can be so flooded with artists and other people screaming for attention that it can be hard to find an audience.

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?

My website is www.randybishopart.com From there I have links to my social media pages/feeds and a blog as well. I'm hoping to have links to some goods for sale there in the near future as well.