Interview With Richard Borge, Illustrator and Motion Designer
Greenpointers recently had a homemade cappuccino with Brooklyn based illustrator and motion designer Richard Borge. Richard has done work for everyone from The New York Times to The Village Voice. He has a show, Objects Found and Claimed, opening May 16th at Rourke Art Museum in Moorehead, Minnesota. And yes, he makes a tasty cappuccino.
GP: How did you get into illustration and motion design?
Richard Borge: I went to a liberal arts school, Concordia College, in Moorehead, Minnesota. I was a studio art major, but I didn’t get too focussed on any one thing. I went to graduate school for illustration and graphic design at the University of Arizona. After I started getting illustration gigs.
GP: How has your artistic process evolved?
Richard: Ever since I was a little kid I was drawing and making things. I think pretty early on in my time in New York I was using found objects and finding things and incorporating them into collages and assemblage type stuff. For a long time I was using an airbrush. I was painting stuff to look photographic on smooth board. It looked like I had taped objects onto the board and used thumbtacks, but it was actually painting. Eventually I got a 4×5 field camera and was shooting 4×5 of everything. I would make these constructions and then shoot a 4×5 of them.
GP:What year was this?
Richard: When I really started getting freelance work was the mid-1990s when I moved to New York.
GP: What type of clients would you send stuff to?
Richard: Music labels, magazines and some advertising for MTV.
GP: What did you do for MTV?
Richard: I did these promos that went between the shows. They weren’t animated, they were still images. People were always telling me, your stuff wants to move, you should make it move. So eventually I took a class at School of Visual Arts where I learned how to make models and learned about stop motion animation. That’s when I really started getting stuff moving.
GP: I’m curious about the magazine stuff you do, especially with The Progressive.
Richard: They’re a cool magazine because they’re pretty left leaning and their articles are really heavy hitting. They try and give topics attention that aren’t getting enough coverage in the news. I’ve done the editor’s column for three months in a row which has been cool.
GP: What about your work with Playboy?
Richard: I’ve illustrated for articles by Gore Vidal and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. When I worked for Playboy it was heavy hitting social topics. The article by Gore Vidal was about how the constitution was under attack by the right. Stuff like that.
GP: Do you find that you’re able to do work for clients that are doing things you believe in?
RICHARD. Yeah. Even with The Wall Street Journal. One thing I did for them that was cool was an illustration for a letter from the editor saying that we need to rethink the way our CEOs are getting paid. That they need to be held more accountable. I’ve turned down work too. Stuff that I didn’t agree with like the NRA. Not that I have any huge problem with guns. It was the article itself. I was like, I’m not going to do this.
GP:Tell me about your work with Vampire Weekend.
RICHARD: About a year ago for there last album, Modern Vampires of the City. I did the typography for the videos for the songs Step, Diane Young and Ya Hey. It was fun. They’re fun guys to work with. We were on conference calls with the band. Its nice to have that kind of contact with musicians when your doing that type of work. You don’t always get that.
GP: Tell me about the show you have coming up.
Richard: I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota which is right on the border of Minnesota. The show is in Moorehead. It’s a really cool gallery called Rourke Art Museum. I have a long relationship with this gallery. The space itself is really cool. It used to be a post office. They have a cool collection there, Andy Warhol and a lot of other well known artists. I have a show upstairs May 16th called Objects Found and Claimed. Downstairs there’s going to be a group show called the Midwestern Art Invitational… it’s been going on since way back, even when I was in undergraduate school. I have been invited to be a judge for the show.
GP: I have a confession. When I first met you a few years ago I thought you were the guy who drew the headcuts for The Wall Street Journal.
RICHARD: (Chuckles) Everybody thinks that cause everybody knows that guy.