Today, I bring you Raymond Klecker (previously-blogged), the absurdly talented young illustrator and painter based in Orlando, Florida. Hes so good I kind of want to throw up a little. Below is just a small sample of the talent Raymond holds. I thought it would be a great idea to run an interview with him here. So without further ado, here is Raymond Klecker’s interview and his artistic journey.
Honey: Name, age, location and what are you doing later today?
Raymond: Hello, my name is Raymond Klecker, I’m 29 years old, and I live in Orlando, FL. I enjoy cheese, traveling, good music, and the occasional instance when I can enjoy all three of those! Tonight I’m going to be working, sadly. I need to begin preparations for a new project I am doing for the City of Orlando. A couple other guys and I are going to be painting dumpsters this weekend in an effort to help beautify the city as part of a project called “Dumpster Presence.” It should be pretty fun!
Honey: Where did you grow up? How did you become interested in the arts?
Raymond: I am originally from Burtonsville, MD. It’s a small town right in the middle of Washington, DC and Baltimore, and I lived in that area until I was about 23 or 24 years old. Then I moved to Orlando, FL, where I’m living now. I love it here. It can suck not being around my family though. My whole family is artistic, and that’s how I became interested in creating art. My Grandpa especially. He would always be creating art, building something or just doing something really creative. It was really a source of inspiration for me.
Honey: Do you work from life or photos?
Raymond: When I am coming up with a painting, I like to just start drawing from my head, but over time as the painting develops and a story starts to form, I really try to refine the elements by using references. A lot of times I try to use my own photos, but sometimes I don’t always have a photo of what I need. I really want to start experimenting with models soon, too, so I can control the lighting, poses, and everything else. So if you’re a model and you’re reading this, email me! For my ‘Sketch A Day’ drawings I almost always work from reference photos. I’ve always wanted to be that guy that sits in a park or on a train and draws people from real life, but usually I draw at night and if I started hanging around a park in the middle of the night people might think I’m creepy. So I’ll stick with the reference photos for now.
Honey: How did your style develop?
Raymond: I never had any formal art training, and I never had anyone telling me I could or couldn’t draw or paint a certain way, so my style developed on its own pretty quickly. I had always drawn my whole life, and my goal was just to make my pictures look exactly like what I was trying to draw. I spent a lot of time recreating comic art and drawing my own versions of Where’s Waldo and stuff like that, but it wasn’t until I started incorporating color into my art using paints and pastels that I really started to have a style of my own.
Honey: Are you picky about how, when, and where you paint/draw?
Raymond: I’m not too picky about where I create art. I’ll draw or paint anywhere as long as I have the tools I need. I do feel more comfortable painting and drawing in my own space though, so that is always my preferred spot. What I really hate is making stuff right after I finish drinking coffee. It’s terrifying. My hands get the shakes and I can’t draw a straight line to save my life! I also like to be able to set up and paint for long periods of time, so I won’t start painting anything if I know I have somewhere to go. I really love making art though, so if it came down to it and conditions were crappy, I would still be making art.
Honey: Would you be able to give me a time-scale on how long each piece takes to complete?
Raymond: Paintings usually take me a few weeks. I like to take my time with those and try to make them look the best I can. I’m always chasing the white rabbit of perfection. Sometimes just coming up with all of the elements for an idea can take a while because I really like to develop a story and add meaning to the pieces, and that doesn’t always come right away. So even if I’m not actively drawing or painting, I’m almost always thinking about my work and letting it grow inside my head. For my Sketch A Day series I try to do drawings every day, so I can’t spend too much time on them. I usually work on them for 2-3 hours before I go to sleep. It really is a relief to start and finish something in one sitting. That feeling of accomplishment is priceless.
Honey: What kind of feedback do you get from general public about your work?
Raymond: I think most people like my work. I’ve been fortunate to sell a lot of stuff over the years, and I haven’t really heard too many complaints. I drew a picture one time of a girl that had a gun pointed at her head. There were a few people that didn’t like that imagery and they mentioned it to me. On the other hand, a different group of people did like it, and those weren’t people that usually comment or like my stuff. So I think in the end it all evens out. I love getting criticism and especially love the positive feedback, but that’s not why I make art, so in the end I guess it doesn’t really matter to me what anyone thinks. If I was alone on this Earth, or on any other Earth, I would still be creating art.
Honey: Did you have role models that you were aspiring to emulate?
Raymond: My Grandfather was probably the biggest role model in my life. He was always making something and he always encouraged everyone in our family to create on some level. That, in combination with the support from my friends and family, really made me want to be a better artist. Once I started really getting into art and really appreciating it, I looked to other artists for inspiration. Living near Washington, DC I was able to get to the National Gallery of Art a lot. I saw so many classics and really started falling in love with work by people like Jan van Eyck, John Singleton Copley, Edward John Poynter, Jan Weenix, and so many more. I am a classical art whore. I could look at that stuff all day long.
Honey: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?
Raymond: Staying motivated can get hard sometimes. I recently started to sacrifice a lot of sleep for my art and I always think “Well, I can just go to sleep and make something tomorrow,” but it’s that feeling of accomplishment and that positive feedback I get from people that keeps me going. I love waking up to comments about what I did the night before, it’s a great way to start the day. I really think creativity is like a muscle, too. Since I’m trying to make something every day, it’s easier for me to pick up the pencil or paintbrush and just do something, even if it’s a stupid idea. But if you don’t use that creativity, you lose it, and it gets harder and harder to get back into it. Creative block is a heinous unforgiving bitch!
Honey: Say if you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
Raymond: I have had this one idea for a while that I am not quite sure how to bring to life… It would take lots of time and experimenting, but basically I thought that if I could get a couple different projectors or strong lights and shine some base colors through an interconnecting series of mirrors that mix and bend the light, I could ultimately project a finished painting on a wall. It’s a little ‘mad scientist’ and seems completely over-the-top and unpractical, but I think it would be really cool to see the art being created right in front of your eyes in a single instant.
Honey: Raymond, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Raymond: The moon is considered part of this world, right? If there was real estate on the moon I would totally live there. If that’s not an option then I might like to have an underwater lair in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. I hear the summer’s there are pretty nice.
Honey: What’s on your to-do list for the future?
Raymond: I really want to create more paintings and show in more galleries, basically grow more as an artist. I’m also doing this “Dumpster Presence” project which is going to be pretty awesome. I’m also working with some very talented people to develop and produce a web series for ArtAttacksOnline.com, a website which I help run. Over the past few months we have been traveling around collecting footage of some well-known artists and events, and we are looking to edit everything together into a documentary style show where our host, artist Andrew Spear, travels around the county exposing new and established artists and their relationship with their community. So over the next month or so we are going to be working pretty intensely on getting that done.
Honey: Anything you wanna say to me? Shoutouts? Thanks yous?
Raymond: First, I want to thank you for interviewing me! I check out your site all of the time, so it really is an honor. I would also like to thank anyone who read the whole interview and made it down this far. You rule! Other than that, I just want to thank all my friends, family, and fans for all your support. It really does mean a lot to me. Be sure to find me online at: