About three weeks ago, a fellow professor approached me and demonstrated several sketchbook pages from a student who was taking notes with little doodles. He gave a painting demo and the student was illustrating individual paint tubes, labeling them with the recommended colors, and sketching out any other suggested materials. Several days later, during an in-class lecture, I noticed another student using small iconic exemplifications of the material I was discussing.
Richie Pope was born in Newport News, VA, and grew up drawing anything he could, always with paper in hand. He moved to Richmond and majored in Communication Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received a BFA in 2009. His work has been seen at the 2009 Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition, CMYK magazine and a handful of other magazines and websites. We checked in with him and asked him how important the constant drawing in his sketchbook is for the more commercial work he does: ‘To me, it’s extremely important to constantly draw in my sketchbook. I see it the same way a bodybuilder would see the gym. You have to constantly work at it to get better. The more you draw, especially from life, the more will stick and you’ll start to draw things more naturally. At first, my sketchbook work didn’t really connect with my commercial work because I had just started really sketching seriously. Now, I find that the gap is getting smaller and smaller’.
I never fully believed in such things as talent. Many see it as some sort of ‘gift’, or special natural ability to do things without much effort. But many are not aware of the history of hard work most artists carry behind their art. Creativity and great conceptual thinking are not the result of having talent. They are the result of all the artist’s studies and pieces of their visual library in their head forming new images and ideas.
I still remember when I was introduced to Conceptart as a student and started devoting countless hours to the sketchbook threads, desperately trying to measure up to the most prestigious drawers around the world. I felt like I was part of an isolated underground club in which battles were fought on paper, using your drawing skills and creativity as a weapon. As the popularity of the site grew, so did my love and dedication to sketchbooks. [illustration above by Guy Parkhomenko]