Illustrator Interview – Rico Schacherl

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Last week we were in Israel, but now we mosey along the Mediterranean coast and travel way down the continent of Africa to its tip. Today’s illustrator, and wonderful uTales collaborator, Rico, lives in South Africa. He posts snippets of his work everyday on FB, which always give me a chuckle. He seems to be able to add a humorous illustrative twist to even the serious subjects.

Illustrator or author/illustrator?

Rico: I am primarily an illustrator, but sometimes also do some writing. I especially love working on story ideas and to design characters.

What’s your nationality and where have you lived?

Rico: Born in 1966 in Linz, Austria, but have lived in South Africa most of my life.

How have these cultures/languages influenced your art?

Rico: German was my mother tongue and my upbringing was a mix of Austrian and South African culture (which in itself incredibly varied … there being for example 11 official languages in South Africa). My mother encouraged me to become a voracious reader and this helped shape me as an artist – but I confess that most of the early influences were European and American comics and children’s books. I had a large collection of Richard Scarry, Tintin, Asterix and classic Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse adventures.

Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.

Rico: It goes right back to my youth … I covered every piece of scrap paper with drawings and got into lots of trouble at school for constantly drawing in exercise books and even on school desks.

After finishing high school in 1984, I began studies in first graphic design and then architecture … but especially the former allowed no room for my first love, which was cartooning. After less than a happy experience with tertiary education, I decided to pursue cartooning and illustration and was lucky to get hired by a newly formed satirical magazine as first a freelancer and then a staff artist for the publisher … working on a wide variety of things including children’s material, magazine illustration and even greeting cards.

When this publisher closed down, I formed a partnership in 1992 with writer Stephen Francis and we created the comic strip Madam & Eve, which we have kept going to this day.

What is your favorite medium for your artwork?

Rico: My favourite medium is by far pen and ink drawings and watercolours.

I know you are not only a book illustrator. What other expressions does your art take?

Rico: I see myself primarily as a graphic storyteller … and try and even tell a story or develop as much character as possible in even a single frame image.

I also work as a comic strip artist, cartoonist and editorial illustrator. I’ve had lots of varied opportunities in my career … which include animation design work, advertising, educational cartoon graphics and comics and work for corporate communications.

I also paint.

What art or artists have influenced you most?

Children’s art: Maurice Sendak, Oliver Jeffers, Scarry, Sempe

Comics: Herge (Tintin), Uderzo (Asterix), Carl Barks, Moebius … and too many to mention.

Comic strips & cartoons: Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), Berk Breathed

What are the deciding factors for you in accepting a project ?

Rico: Fun and intergrity and will it challenge me creatively?

What does your workspace look like? 

Rico: I have sunny studio at home with doors that open to a stoep,  … it currently looks relatively  neat after a recent tidy up … give it a few months and it’ll fill up with comfortable clutter.

(in the attached photo you can see my cat, Charlie, on the window sill and the foliage of the magnolia tree through the window)


Five Fun Ones to Finish?

What word best sums you up?

Rico: Integrity

Dogs or cats?

Rico: Cats

What do you do for non-art related relaxation?

Rico: Playing boules, reading, military history and computer wargaming, movies

What’s your drink of preference while you are working?

Rico: Coffee (some say way too much) and water

If you could spend a day with one children’s book character, with whom would that be?

Rico: Not strictly children’s book character … but love to spend a day with Calvin & Hobbes… for a no-holds game of Calvinball.

Rico, this is far too tidy a studio for an artist, but we appreciate you tidying it just for this blog post! A boulle-player AND Calvin and Hobbes fan….. that’s why our collaboration worked! Seriously, the artists and comics/books you have mentioned here, all played an integral part also in my childhood reading. I think you have a tremendous gift of imparting so much character just from one image. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Rico. To your continued success!

If you want to discover more of Rico’s talent, and I know you do! Check out these websites:

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17 Responses to Illustrator Interview – Rico Schacherl

  1. This was very interesting, as my ears pricked up when he said he was from Linz Austria, as I have friends here, from there, and I belong to an Austrian Folk dance group. Love your sketch work Rico, and I wondered if you have ever traveled back to Austria at all? Thankyou Joanna for introducing Rico to us.

    • Joanna says:

      I’d love to know too how much Rico has been able to keep up with his Austrian roots. I have spent wonderful time myself in both Austria and South Africa.

  2. Fabulous! I love your illustrator series, Joanna. Rico, your sketches are a hoot. I think I just fell in love with Butterbean and the Schnook. Is the Schnook a random a sketch or an established character? Are there more like him? 🙂

  3. Again, a delightful interview — I’m so glad he gave us a glimpse of his workspace, as Rico’s studio seems to express his personality and art style. I love that your interviews take us all over the globe just as your writing and your Monday posts do. Thank you!

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks, Beth, I too think it is cool how suddenly I am cyber-meeting illustrators from all around the world, completely unplanned!

  4. I am enjoying this series Joanna. I looked at all of the posted websites and was impressed with his versatility. I can’t think of anything more challenging than to write and illustrate cartoons. He must have a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you Rico, I enjoyed getting to know more about your and your passion. Writing on desks? Great stories.

  5. Heather says:

    Rico, you have a wonderful sense of humor! I love the duck soup site. Thank you for sharing your studio and your art.

  6. WOW! Rico is so cool! Great interview!!!

  7. Joanna says:

    You said it, Leigh!

  8. Another wonderful peek into the life and work of an illustrator. Love that your interviewees hail from all over the globe!

  9. I was compelled to follow Rico on Facebook! His work is amazing! Thanks for the introduction, Joanna!

  10. Joanna says:

    You won’t regret following Rico on FB, Eric. You can get your daily dose of the chuckles!

  11. What a lovely interview. So amazing that the web can bring us much closer to like-minded individuals as far away as Africa, who share our passion and interest in the written word, beautiful images, and gloriously-funny illustrations. I do love my dose of daily chuckle – will search Rico out on FB. 🙂

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