In a career spanning four decades, Ricardo has created eye-catching, thought-provoking illustrations and graphics for major publications, ad agencies, and brands. He is also the co-creator of “Goomer,” a comic strip that has been continuously published since 1987 and was made into an award-winning movie. Celebrities from Kofi Annan to Bill Clinton own his drawings, and his work can be seen in museums ranging from the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, to the National Library of Madrid. Of course, he’s also won his share of awards and honors over the years in mediums from newspaper to film.
We asked Ricardo a few questions to gain insight into his work.
“I couldn’t find the right picture for the illustration, so I created a new image of Steve Jobs, and I think my portrait is more alive than any of the photos I’ve seen.”
Growing up, when did your artistic talent emerge?
My parents told me that when I was very little, on a rainy day, they saw me looking out the window and drawing a person with an umbrella. I must have been less than two, because my parents were very surprised. My father was in the art business, painting those huge billboards they used to have in the movie theaters.
You’ve done a lot of illustrations of celebrities and dignitaries. What are some of your favorites?
I’ve enjoyed just about every politician and musician that I’ve done, even people I didn’t care for. Recently, I did a portrait of Einstein with his tongue out, but in a different point of view. It was fun reinventing a photo you have seen so many times. Another one I had fun with was a portrait of Steve Jobs I did the day he died. I couldn’t find the right picture for the illustration, so I created a new image of Steve Jobs, and I think my portrait is more alive than any of the photos I’ve seen. I enjoyed doing the portrait of Bran Ferren because he has a beautiful face, and I love drawing beards!
You’re the co-creator of the popular comic strip “Goomer.” Talk about the process of creating a strip versus a commissioned illustration.
I always loved comics, and still read them. (As of now, I’m reading the stories of Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson). So when I was working at the Miami News and my friend Nacho Moreno called from Spain and asked me to do a Sunday color strip, I said “yes” immediately, not worrying about how much extra time I needed for that. We did the strip for around 25 years! It was syndicated in the United States for awhile. My partner Nacho did the scripts, so my involvement was to think how to make that script work. I would spend more time thinking of atmosphere, different angles, and things like that. And, of course, finally doing the art.
Ricardo’s expressionistic take on the iconic Bob Dyan for Metropoli
Where do you find inspiration?
I get inspiration from many masters of the past like T.S. Sullivant, Gustave Doré, Hal Foster, Don Wright, and James Montgomery Flagg. I also love looking at the conceptual art of the great illustrators, such as Peter de Sève, Brad Holland, and Rafal Olbinski.
What would be your “dream project?”
I’d love to do a drawing with a thousand animals, like a mural, for a science museum or a zoo – like a Noah’s Ark or something similar.
RICARDO MARTINEZ ORTEGA
To see more of Ricardo Martinez’s skillfully crafted work in this issue, you can download it here.
For more of his career spanning work, check out his portfolio here.