Recently, CTL+’s Brian Cetina was able to sit down and speak with Artist Rich Barrett about his life and work.
Brian: Describe why you like Charlotte and why you think this city makes a great creative hub. Why you choose to stay here.
Rich Barrett: I came to Charlotte from New York City where I had lived and worked for 10 years. New York is obviously a very inspiring place to be for creatives but I think it can also be somewhat intimidating and really challenging to make your mark in. Since moving here, I’ve felt consistently more inspired by being part of a smaller, more personal network. There are people here in Charlotte doing award winning work in various creative fields like design, photography, fine arts, but because it’s such a smaller playing field than a big city like New York, it’s easier to feel like you’re an integral part of it and thatt inspires you to do great things yourself.
Tell me about your first project you ever worked on that made you really go ‘this is what i want to do for the rest of my life’
What makes this field so exciting?
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing like that because so much of what I do has changed a lot over the years. I had always wanted to be an illustrator of some sort but I fell into web design after graduating college, around the time the internet was really becoming a thing. The technology and even a lot of the driving principles of designing for the web is always changing so I feel like I’m always doing new things. The nature of the work I do now is very different from what I was doing even 5 years ago. Recently, I’ve returned to illustration, originally through personal work like my graphic novel, but now I’m being asked more and more by new clients to do that kind of work for their projects.
I like variety so it’s great to be able to do a lot of different things. I’ll move from a web design project to an animation project to an illustration or even a comics project. It keeps things interesting.
Tell me more about your work with HeroCon and how that connects you with fans and the city.
HeroesCon is one of the best comic book conventions in the country and I had been attending it as a fan since I first moved to Charlotte. After starting work on my own graphic novel, Nathan Sorry (http://www.nathansorry.com/) and receiving some attention online for it, the people that ran HeroesCon were kind enough to ask me if I’d like to have my own table at the show and I’ve done that for about four years now. I’ve even started to do other conventions in other cities now. Charlotte has a big comics community thanks to HeroesCon and the great store that runs it, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. There are a lot of comics fans in the area but also a number of talented and successful people working in the field that live here. It’s great to be a part of that.
And describe a normal day. Work? Family? Etc. what you currently do now, other than Nathan Sorry.
After working for a number of advertising and marketing agencies over the years, I’ve now been working from home and started my own one-man design shop a few years ago. I have a number of my own clients and also work with a variety of advertising and interactive agencies here in town. I love that what I do offers me the flexibility of working out of my house. I have three small kids, all under 5, so it’s great to be around all the time and be able to watch them grow up.
I have a little office here at home with a Mac on one desk and a mess of art supplies on another. I usually get up early in the morning to get as much done before business (and kid) hours as possible. Depending on deadlines and the number of projects I have going on at once, I’ll often try to fit in a half hour to an hour during that time to work on my graphic novel. It’s difficult to fit in time for personal projects when you’re busy with work and family but I think it’s important. It’s basically what I do to have fun, I guess.
Any advice for small artists/designers here?
Keep trying new things. Learn something new with every project. Make time for your own personal projects because that’s where you’ll really learn and grow.
What do you hope to be doing 5 years from now?
It’s hard to say. I’m always open to new opportunities and you never know what’s going to come along. The web and digital media is constantly changing and it can be hard to predict how the various shifts are going to affect your role in it all.
I hope to finish up my graphic novel in the next couple of years. It’s been a long process that has been even longer than expected since I can only devote so much time to it. But I have other stories I’m already planning so I look forward to getting to them when this one is done.
Your thoughts on print media vs web.
Not just news but magazines, comics, advertising.
I love them both. Digital media is obviously greatly disrupting print right now but I think both will have their place in the future with print probably becoming more of a niche compared to the greater distribution channels that digital can offer. They both have their own advantages. As someone who is currently self-publishing a graphic novel through both print and digital means I’m really interested in where this is all going. I think digital opens up a lot of opportunities for independent creators, authors and publishers. But with ease of distribution comes more competition and it can be really hard to get attention for your stuff where there are millions of other options out there for people to look at.
I know for sure though that without the ability to put my comic up on the web for anyone to read, I would not have nearly the success I’ve had with it so far and I may even have given up on doing it altogether without the encouragement from readers that have helped drive me along these past few years.
Visit Rich’s website at http://richbarrett.com.
* View a full video interview with Rich Barrett in the coming weeks.