By BRYAN THAO WORRA
SAN FRANCISCO (June 30, 2015) — Richard Luong is a talented freelance artist based in Texas. He has worked on numerous projects over the years, but one of his most recent high-profile projects has been his work for Cthulhu Wars, a game inspired by the work of 20th century writer H.P. Lovecraft. Working with legendary game designer Sandy Petersen, Luong was responsible for creating a new look for dozens of alien and fantastic entities, some of which had been described in only the vaguest of terms in the original texts. He is now in the process of making an art book showcasing his work on that project.
Asian American Press had a chance to catch up with him to discuss his work and journey as an artist:
Asian American Press: Can you tell us a little about yourself, and how did you develop an interest in art?
Richard Luong: I always loved art and drew a lot as a kid. I started by drawing cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As I got older, I got into comics and would try to copy what I saw in them. I slowly improved but at this point I knew that art is what I loved and wanted to do for a living. The trouble is as you get older, you start to worry about whether or not you can get a job doing art. At the time, concept art for games and movies weren’t as big and the internet was still in it’s infancy. So it was very difficult for a young artist to learn and get his art out there. I went to College at Northern Illinois University for illustration, and mostly studied to become an editorial illustrator.
At the end of my third year though, I knew that I didn’t want to do that. I always wanted to do comic art but new I didn’t have the skill for it yet. Then I stumbled across video game concept art. I instantly knew that is what I wanted to do. I worked my last year in college to devote myself to learning concept art. I learned how to 3D model as well. I was able to take these skills and get my first job a year after school, and the rest is history!
AAP: Who do you turn to for your artistic inspirations?
RL: There is a ridiculous amount of amazing talent out there. Growing up, I always was drawn to the more realistic artists who did figurative work. Classic artists like Norman Rockwell, comic artists such as J Scott Campbell and Michael Turner. As I have progressed as an artist though, I am more influenced and interested in classic artists like Egon Scheele, and comic artists with more style such as Mike Mignola. On a daily basis though, I always watch movies to inspire me and look online at all the other great art to get me jealous and ready to go. (LOL)
AAP: You’ve been very prolific with your art this year. What are some of the pieces you’re excited about coming up?
RL: Thank you! I don’t neccisarily have anything planned other than contract work to keep me busy. As for my personal work and personal projects, I have a Kickstarter I am working on with a team of traditional sculptors. It is a project based off of the classic miniatures in the early 80’s. We are doing a throwback to the classics reimagined. I am very excited about it and the fantasy art I get to create for it is very exciting. I will be posting updates about it in the future on my Tentacles and Teeth page.
AAP: What are some of directions in fantastic art you still feel are unexplored?
RL: Lovecraftian art is becoming more and more popular. I would like to think Cthulhu Wars had a hand in that “grin.” We have seen a lot of realistic army combat games and movies, as well as futuristic and medieval. I would love to see more lovecraftian themes appear in mainstream movies and games.
To be honest though, I think everything has been explored at this point, that we can understand anyways. I believe the world consists of what we know and what we don’t. As humans we like to think we have science and religion to explain everything for us but I believe the world is much more vast than we can comprehend. It consists of energies and languages that are beyond our plane of understanding. I love artists and visionaries that can push the boundaries of our imaginations… I hope that I can be one of those artists.
AAP: Where are we seeing significant innovations?
RL: With the internet constantly expanding and the ability for everyone to have a voice, I believe the internet is where innovation happens. Now people that normally wouldn’t have had an opportunity are now given a platform to share there thoughts. I think the world is an amazing place now and people can speak their mind. Independent movies and games and places like Kickstarter are amazing for this.
AAP: As an artist, when are you most satisfied with a piece?
RL: I don’t think I ever am satisfied. It’s a struggle as an artist because you are always critical of yourself. I know that I can always do better but sometimes your skill level just isn’t up to par yet. I always think of it like a video game. You may be a level 10 artist but you need to level up to a 15 to do this or that. A great feeling though is when you get those breakthroughs and you know you just improved. Creating a piece that is beyond anything you have created before feels like you just leveled up.
AAP: What’s the best compliment you’ve received for your art so far?
RL: I think my Tentacles and Teeth facebook page has been the best thing for my self-esteem as an artist and to also push me to become better. knowing you have an audience and people that genuinely enjoy your work feels fantastic. It really inspires me and pushes me to make better and more art. I love when people leave comments and share my art. The best compliment though is for people to buy large prints of my work and o make it the centerpiece for their homes. I truly feel humbled by it.
AAP: If you had to give a younger artist some advice, what would it be?
RL: Don’t be scared to fail. Art is a lifelong journey of growth and frustration. It feels great to make fantastic pieces but you have to go out of your comfort zone by drawing new things and pushing yourself to really become better. Keep on practicing and making crappy art and eventually it will become good. You have to keep putting in the hours to improve. There are no shortcuts and special Photoshop tools that do it for you. Enjoy the ride though, because if you really love it, being an artist never feels like you work a day in your life.
AAP: What’s next for you?
RL: I want to keep working Freelance but also collaborate with more artists on independent projects. I think the artist community is fantastic. We are all a bunch of nerds that love comics and games and monsters and heroes. I want to be able to work with others and make money with no middle man and take advantage of the messed up stuff we have in our heads. (LOL)
Thanks for interviewing me. It was a pleasure and hopefully someone was able to get some insight from it. Please checkout my Kickstarter for my art book and miniatures! You can see more of Richard’s current projects at: