How did you get into art? I had music lessons in the BYU Harris Fine Arts Center. On my way to and from my lessons, I admired the artwork on the walls by BYU faculty and students. Something inside me really became excited about art. When I was fourteen, my parents let me trade in my music lessons for art lessons. I went on to earn an art degree and study with various artists.
Tell us about the pieces you’re showing at the library. The pieces at the library are all illustrations I did for an abridged version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. My goal was to do the book from my imagination, with little to no visual reference—to detach it from reality and make it more of a symbolic experience.
What are you working on right now? Right now I’m working on a new Christmas book called Angels We Have Heard on High, based on the hymn. I’m also working on a lot of paintings for galleries and clients. I’m also doing a lot of sculpture. I hope to have my first show full of sculptures in 2015.
Which artists are you inspired by? So many! Jules Bastien-Lepage, Pascal Dagnan Bouveret, Anselm Kiefer, Carl Bloch, James Christensen, Bruce Smith, Jean Dubuffet, Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Caravaggio, Georges de la Tour, and many, many more. Everything I see and hear inspires me in some way.
What advice do you have for young artists? Don’t listen to people who say it’s impossible or highly unlikely to be a career artist. Find the kind of artwork that is most fun for you to make, and then make it the best you can. Make a lot of it! Try it again a different way. Keep exploring. Get better and better at it. Be impatient about learning and producing, but patient about results. Don’t be afraid to put your art in front of people and let them know about it. Keep your expenses low, especially at the beginning. Watch people who are successful. Give it your all. Go the extra mile. Surprise people.
Anything else you’d like to add? I do a studio tour every year, where people can come and see what I’m working on in the studio. If you’d like to receive an invitation, we’d love to send you one. Just register for event invitations on my website: jkirkrichards.com.