Friends of Kickstart: Ric Ow

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For this month’s edition of Friends of Kickstart, we’ve got another Kickstart alumni. Ric Ow was a designer at Kickstart for most of last year, before moving on to an exciting opportunity as a design lead at another studio in town.

Ric has been a concept artist and designer for many years, originally in the video game development industry before we stole him away to come make cartoons instead. You can check out his rad art on his portfolio site.

Tell us about your personal projects
I have an illustrated short story that I worked on with my wife that will be a part of a larger collective of stories, coming out sometime around summer or fall. The book is called Encounters with the Imaginary Volume 3 and its an anthology of fantasy-themed short stories, written and illustrated by over 40 artists from around the world.

My story is about my dog Ecko and his adventures with his buddy which happens to be a baby dragon, Its kinda like a Forrest Gump meets Homeward bound in a world like Lord of the Rings kind of scenario; I'm hoping to be able to develop this short story further sometime in the future, but it was a lot of fun to get the ball rolling and share a snippet of it with all the backers of the Kickstarter. 

What's your favourite colour combo?
Recently I've really liked images that use cyan and magenta color combos for some reason.

Can you think of a particular piece of media that inspired you to become an artist?
Its hard to find one particular thing that made me want to be an artist, but there's no doubt that the art they would print in the instruction booklets and covers of NES games had a huge impact on me in the 80's. I would trace them and redraw the characters and enemies over and over again haha... its too bad you don't see that anymore with video games these days, most games don't even have printed manuals, I suppose thats why there's a big market for "art of" books now. There are many more influences on me growing up, but the art of console games was a big one.

What has been the high point of your career so far?
Fortunately, it seems that every job I move onto is better than the last, which hopefully is a reflection of me growing and improving as an artist; so regarding the high point of my career so far, it would be my experience working at Kickstart. Our design team worked so well together and was such a pleasure to be a part of. I learned a lot from all of them and I hope there will be more opportunities to work with them again in the future. It's rare to find a team that just complemented, supported, and encouraged one another so genuinely.

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What do you most want to improve in your work?
I'm greedy and I'd like to improve everything about my work haha. But if i had to be specific, I think I would like to improve on my story-telling and narrative ability in my art. Some of my favorite artists are able to paint captivating stories and complex emotions and relationships within just one image or scene, i'd like to be able to do that better.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Now that I have a young family of my own, a perfect Sunday for me is just getting to sleep in, go for a nice scenic walk, grab some good food and maybe a glass of wine or beer, and then have a few hours to just draw and paint while watching Netflix or something.

What was your most memorable non-animation job?
My most memorable non-animation job would probably be my very first job I had working in retail, selling athletic shoes and clothing. The entire staff was fairly young and it was just fun and carefree back then... the pay sucked and the hours were long but it was still pretty fun. I learned a lot about how to deal with customers and people in general; it also gave me an inside perspective about how service people are treated, sometimes very unfairly.I remember customers that would get upset at us because we didn't have her size as if it was our fault haha. I think this is a big reason why I try to treat everyone politely and with respect, we're all just trying to do our best no matter what title or profession we have. I also learned to be very grateful to be in a career that I love and I'm passionate about.

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You're stuck on a desert island with a laptop and USB stick containing the entirety of one cartoon - what show is it?
If i had to pick one cartoon to be stuck on an island watching, it would probably be the entirety of Dragonball and all its spin-offs because I was a huge fan of Akira Toriyama as a kid and there are SO many Dragonball spin-offs that I could literally be watching these for decades.

Pick three cartoon characters that describe your personality
My wife thinks I'm like Jughead Jones from Archie comics because I'm so laid back, I love to nap, and my eyes are never fully open haha, I've always liked Michelangelo from the ninja turtles because he's always happy-go-lucky and love eating junk food. And of course I love Goku from Dragonball and I've admired how simple and child-like he still is even though he has the power to destroy planets haha. So I'd say those characters are kinda like me...  laidback, happy-go-lucky, simple and down-to-earth.

What's a piece of media you've consumed lately (tv, movie, podcast, music etc) that has inspired you to create?
I recently binge watched Love, Death, and Robots on Netflix and it BLEW MY MIND. The creativity in the stories, the artistic and technical mastery required to create this series is just incredible! its definitely NSFW so its not for everyone, but am I ever inspired! It's amazing to see what artists can do when given the opportunity to go nuts.

What's on your work playlist?
I don't listen to music much anymore, but I'll always have some kind of tutorial or art-related channel or video on my 2nd monitor. There are some great youtube channels like Proko for anatomy, ModernDayJames  and Marco Bucci for fundamentals, FlippedNormals for 3D stuff, LucidPixels for general art chat, Bobby Chiu's Schoolism is always great. All good stuff for the art soul.