by Rea Gierran
Artist Rico Rival on why nobody gets paid for mediocrity
MANILA- In the eyes of veteran artist Rico Rival, today’s crop of illustrators have it better, and therefore no excuse to not draw what’s needed.
Encouraging a crowd of youngbloods to pursue art on Day 1 of Komikon 2015, held at Bayanihan Center on November 14 and 15, the UST-educated Rival says: “Artists today are fortunate, aside from having lots of study materials, they now also have mentors to turn to therefore they have no excuse. During my time there was nothing. If you want to learn you have to bleed for it.”
Having witnessed the local komiks industry dwindle and artists suffer the brunt from this crisis, Rival worked for J. Walter Thompson as a conceptualizer during this downturn. “I did storyboards for them. I doodle just to continue drawing. I don’t want to let a day pass by without me drawing,” he shares. He says Tony Zuniga paved the way for artists like him to continue what they do and expose their work abroad. Pointing out that Filipinos are very good with soft strokes especially if it’s women they’re illustrating, Rival amended his statement by cautioning fellow artists that while having a variety of soft lines is good, it’s a trademark that Pinoys have to ease back on when they working overseas.
For Rival, learning how to draw is an unending process. “Knowing how to draw is not enough, you have to continuously study the basic elements: anatomy, placement, composition, proportions and perspective. Never settle for what you already know,” he explains.
Up until now, the vivacious illustrator says he still studies by observing people. “Habang nakatayo at nag aantay ng sasakyan, ino-obserbahan ko ang mga tao. Kung saan maraming lukot, kung saan maraming may bend. You really have to be observant,” he says.
He says that developing your skills goes hand in hand with developing your character. Selling your drawing is like selling yourself. “I can read a person’s character through his work. It’s a culmination of his personality. An artist’s drawing is a reflection of what attracts him, of what’s beautiful for him,” he says.
When asked for his advice to young up-and-coming artists, he says, “First and foremost you have to believe in yourself. If you want to be an artist, be an artist. You pray about it, you focus and develop your skills. You have to know the business from inside out.
You also have to be willing to learn, that’s how you maintain your passion. Always strive for excellence and never settle for mediocrity. Perseverance is important because what you do now, will tell you where you’re going to be five years from now. Mindset is also very important because your thoughts determine your action. Make your drawing bigger than life.”