Richard Wright is a UK based freelance illustrator and concept artist who has worked on projects for Magic the Gathering, World of Warcraft and Wizards of the Coast, just to name a few.
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In this interview, Richard shares his advice on building a strong portfolio, lessons he learned on the job and more.
How did you begin your career as an artist?
I studied Graphic Design at Art College. Before starting my final year, I got a summer job at Games Workshop. I started out doing graphics but what I really wanted to be was an illustrator. For about 6 months, I spent every evening painting until I felt I had something good enough to show them. I spent the next few years illustrating Space Marine Dreadnoughts and Ork Warbikes!
I later moved to Sheffield to work for a video games company called Particle Systems and a couple of years after that I worked at a company called ArkVFX where we created pop promos, commercials and video game cinematics.
While I was there, I started working freelance on Magic the Gathering and the World of Warcraft trading card games. I eventually left to work full-time as an illustrator/concept artist. I’ve been working freelance now for about 8 years, creating illustrations for various companies like Wizards of the Coast, Games Workshop, Bungie, CMON, Tencent, Take Two Interactive.
Tell us about one of your most exciting projects.
I’ve enjoyed pretty much all the projects I’ve worked on so far. I try to avoid work that I’m not excited by. If I had to choose one, it would be the series of Cthulhu paintings I made last year for CMON. I really enjoyed trying to come up with a story for each of the pictures and the technical challenge of creating/painting people was a bit scary. It’s not something I’ve had many experiences with but it turned out to be a lot of fun!
What do you think makes a strong portfolio?
Try to use as few images as possible to show the best work you can do. Maybe 10 to 20 pieces of your best work. Don’t include work just to make up the numbers. 6 awesome pieces are better than 6 awesome pieces plus 4 mediocre ones.
Target your portfolio to the kind of work you want to do. There is no point having pictures of cityscapes if what you really want to do is model mechs.
Tell us about a valuable lesson you learned on the job.
With each project, I always try to learn a new technique or skill or improve an existing one. It might be composition or how to paint clouds. For the Cthulhu paintings, I needed to figure out a technique or process for painting the characters that I’d never really tackled before. I got quite stressed worrying if I’d be able to do it. I even thought about telling the client I couldn’t do the work but I persevered and in the end, it was one of the most satisfying parts of the project. So take risks and never give up!