The Next Big Thing?!
BY TRACY RISUCCI
Bethany Richard… a lover of animals, fashion, nyc, and art … our kind of girl! We found Bethany while cruising through Instagram and her art immediately caught our eye. Turns out her illustrations are as colorful as her personality; young, fun, and hip with an eye for fashion. Her background includes work for national retailers, private commissions, and is becoming a favorite with influencers! We contacted Bethany to create this feature. She graciously accepted and answered a few questions below (and some follow up questions in parenthesis!) Thanks Bethany!
BB: Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Bethany: Growing up I’ve always had an affinity for art and fashion design. Fashion design had a clear path and I knew I had the work ethic to get there. With art, it took time to gain the confidence that I was good enough to stand out on my own.
BB: When did becoming an artist become a reality?
Bethany: I was in the fashion industry for 7 years in NYC. Despite the time commitment of fashion, I kept moonlighting as an illustrator. Art commissions were steady but I felt my efforts were half of what they could be. Through greater opportunities, I left the fashion industry to pursue art full time. I’m very excited about this next chapter. (BB: Was this the difference (and beauty) between working as an artist organically versus a corporate directive? Bethany: Yes, I believe so. I love the autonomy of being an artist and working with different clients and projects.)
BB: What was the first piece of art you ever sold?
Bethany: Hmm… I think it was a large charcoal nude I did in college. The model bought it. (BB: omgosh! Do you think that was because she didn’t want a nude of herself out there?! haha. Can you tell us how long it took you to create the piece, and were you happy with the end result? What makes a good “nude” model? Bethany: She really liked it! It took 2 classes (6 hours) to complete. I thought it was an accurate interpretation. Anyone can be a nude model. The best have lots of confidence and patience to stand in one position for hours, naked.)
BB: What is the one piece of art you are most proud of?
Bethany: In high school a painting I did won a contest. Moments like these gave me the confidence that I could do this, against all the taboo ideas about pursuing art for a career. I listened to my internal voice and whenever there were exterior validating moments it meant a lot. (BB: Do you believe the greatest artists ultimately learn to listen to their internal voice? Bethany: I think it’s important for everyone to listen and be true to themselves. Especially in art, where you have to be expressive.)
BB: We love your insta and see a theme of fashion and animals? Are those 2 subjects the basis of your most of your inspiration?
Bethany: NYC inspired me to draw dogs. There are so many in the city and I love it when a dog matches their owner. I did a series of dogs and shoes inspired by this idea. I’m often inspired by fashion, but love when strong fashion moments are humanized by adding a cute canine.
BB: Can you step us through your creative process? (i.e., how an idea comes to you, what your are trying to say, use of color, etc.)
Bethany: Good question! I don’t like to take myself too seriously, and want the tone of my work to be the same (life is serious enough). The Inspiration comes from everywhere! From street fashion, vintage polaroids, art on menus etc… my hope is that my pieces make people happy. (BB: That’s how we felt when we saw your work! A happy person making happy art 🙂 Bethany: Thank you! xx)
BB: Tell us all about your love of dogs. We want names!
Bethany: I recently adopted my first dog, Howie, after fostering him for a few days. We couldn’t part with his cuteness. I want to foster another one but we might end up with 17 dogs. There are many great volunteer animal organizations in the city. (BB: Please tell us where you found HOWIE!!! (see Howie’s gorgeous portrait below…) and your favorite animal organizations in the city. Bethany: I got Howie from Social Tees NYC. They rescued him from LA. I’ve volunteered with them and MuddyPawsNYC.)
BB: How did you get involved in illustrations?
Bethany: I have always had a sketchbook with random musings. Although It was never fully rendered pieces. I started by painting murals in high school and college as a summer job in residential and corporate spaces. This helped to grow my confidence with art. Since painting isn’t the most convenient for nyc living, I retreated to my sketchbook and began fully executing works through illustration. (BB: Does it stand to reason that you are a visual learner? Bethany: Yes, very much so.)
BB: We love knowing that art is your full time job. Step us through a typical day.
Bethany: Thank you, me too 🙂 I get up early to take the dog out (he’s my alarm clock). Accompanied by coffee, I start responding to emails. I’ll map out my day which is typically drawing 6 hours a day on commissioned pieces. I like to break up commissions with a piece of whatever inspires me. Kind of like a palette cleanser. I’ll walk the dog , ship out artwork, seek out inspiration, read articles, reach out to prospective clients. (BB: Tell us your TOP 3 dream clients. Bethany: My dream clients would be Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue and Van Cleef and Arpels. BB: How about it Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue and Van Cleef & Arpels? Talented illustrator here…!) I close out the day spending time with my pup and husband. (BB: family… 🙂)
BB: Tell us about your work in the fashion world and the different assignments you’ve had?
Bethany: My first job was in bridal. There I pulled all nighters during fashion week to sew a wedding dress for a designer. I would do a personalized sketch with each customer purchase. I also made the accessories. It was a wild ride. While that job was my worst professional experience, I learned the most from it. For a separate brand I worked on some menswear projects, and children’s wear. While women’s wear is more familiar to me, I loved gaining different perspective in other categories.
BB: To date, what was your favorite project?
Bethany: Tough to pick a favorite. Recently I painted denim at Bloomingdales which was fun. (BB: What does that even mean?! Bethany: If customers purchased denim from Alice and Olivia, I would paint whatever they wanted on their denim purchase.)
BB: If you could have one superpower…..?
Bethany: Teleportation. That would bring my take out food game to the next level. (BB: Hysterical. And VERY good thinking!)
BB: What are some of your favorite accounts to follow?
Bethany: A few favorite accounts are Historycoolkids, Sara Shakeel, Blairz and SocialteesNYC. (BB: Great referrals! Basically Beautiful now follows all.)
BB: Any good advice for art students?
Bethany: Stay unique. (BB: TOTALLY AGREE) Sometimes professors want conformity. Know how to adhere to a directive while putting your signature on it. Sharpening your view will help you stand out. (BB: … and the way to live an authentic life…? Bethany: YES!)
BB: What artists (past or present) would you most like to hang with?
Bethany: Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel, Yves Klein, Gustav Klimt and Leonardo DaVinci are top of mind. Some I admire their innovative thinking, while others works are inspiring.
BB: If someone is interested in purchasing your art other than the few original pieces we have below, what is the best way for them to reach you?
Bethany: They can contact me via my website or reach out at [email protected]. (BB: Thanks Bethany! We can’t wait to chat again!)