Richard A. Goldberg Profile
posted: November 26, 2007
"I used to draw naked women when I was in fifth grade. I was the class artist for pornography. And in high school I'd draw the posters for the class and cartoons for the school newspaper. But I was not particularly interested in art as a career. My family wasn't artistic; my father was a salesman and my mom was a housewife.
"I went to the University of Connecticut and I started out taking paleontology and calculus and stuff like that.
"What happened right away was, in my freshman year, my neighbor across the hall was an art major and he came home with these incredible assignments all about visual problem solving. I thought it was pretty cool, so I signed up for the class the next semester as an elective. It was great, and a whole new world opened up in that one class, so I switched majors immediately. I didn’t tell my folks, because their first question would have been, 'How are you going to make a living?' At that time I had not a clue, but I knew there was something there, that it was like ... this is really touching me and I have to explore this. My reasoning was, look, if I don’t like it I can always switch back to science, but this is my opportunity to learn about art, and if I don’t do it now I'm never going to have a chance.
"A couple of semesters went by and it was more and more interesting and finally I told my folks. They said, 'What the hell are you going to do for a living?' And I said, 'I don’t know, but give me some time.' They were understanding, and sure enough, my senior year I had a job as a student designer at the University Publications, and I was getting paid, and getting course credit. I was producing real stuff: printed brochures and catalogues for the university, and I could insert my own illustrations and solve problems. I could actually design conceptual ideas and visual solutions with type and at that time I was heavily influenced by the New York Times Op-Ed style when J.C. Suarez was AD.
"I would look at all these incredible artists, like Eugene Mihaesco, Andre Francois, Roland Topor, Folon, Ralph Steadman, Tomi Ungerer, and Ronald Searle, and I said, 'This is it, this is what I’m going to do the rest of my life.' And 27 years later I’m just starting to get good at it. The thing I like about this profession is that it never quits. You could work and learn to the day you die and hopefully that’s what you do, and get better and better every day.
"After I graduated, I moved to Boston and started freelancing right away. I was hitting up the small magazines in Boston, meeting other illustrators while waiting to go in to see the art director. Mark Fisher was one of the first people I met, and Catherine Mahoney, who's now in California.
"Back then the Gaphic Artist’s Guild was a very important organization because they really represented business education for illustrators and none of us had any training in school. I mean, in school nobody mentioned it, so when I got out of school I knew I was going to be in business, but that was the extent of my business knowledge: 'Cool, I’m going to get money for what I do. Okay!' So I was kind of stumbling along, and the Guild had a weekend in New York where they told you: you have to market yourself, you have to keep the books, the copyright, and advertising. All in one weekend. So that was a great thing, because for two years I was really just kind of flopping from one poor attempt at getting work to another and after that weekend, that one weekend in New York, I now had a plan for what to do.
"So I came up with these five-year plans for me and my goals, for what I want to do. The first five years, I wanted to be established, and make a living. And at the end of five years I was making a living. The second five years was to be in the top tier of the business, which meant the amount of money I was making. This was in the '80s, and Mark Fisher and myself and a couple of other illustrators found Debra Lipman, who became a very, very good agent for us. At the time we were doing kind of low-end editorial work and we realized that our conceptual styles would work perfectly in advertising and the corporate field. It wasn’t that popular back then, for illustrators to be in that field. So we hired her as our agent, to go after that type of work, and she did it in spades. I mean, this house is her.
"I’m about five years behind schedule now, because I was so busy in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s doing assignment work, there was no time for me to develop personally. So I wasn’t developing myself and pushing myself in a personal way.
"Now my plan is to put me in everywhere that has anything to do with design and art. Whether it’s oil painting or a gallery type of thing, prints, product licensing, commissioned illustration, I want it all! Like Mariscal in Spain. He’s everywhere: bill boards, product design, galleries, fine art oils, drawing, designing buildings and interiors. So I just want to be a drawing factory and just draw and apply it everywhere.
"I’m still working on the signature style that you look at it and you say, 'That’s what I want! That’s what I want for my house or that’s what I want for my gallery; that’s what I want for my airplane!'"