Nyco Rudolph is an artist based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who has a soft spot for film noir, dinosaurs, and anthropomorphic animals. We first met Nyco at the 2016 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, and were instantly drawn to his wonderfully unique artwork. We saw mock travel posters advertising T-Rex hunts, war-time propaganda style prints depicting grizzly bears as air force, navy and military members, and even some wonderful 3-D black and white robots!
Nyco got his professional art career started by designing show posters and album covers for bands in the local Winnipeg music scene. Before long, he was doing album covers and t-shirt designs for bands in other Canadian cities, when his work caught the eye of Levy's Leathers, a guitar strap company based in Winnipeg.
When he's not at his drawing desk, he's making the most of the beautiful (but short!) Manitoba summers with his fiancee Janelle and their dog Morgan.
Ryan Tomko: How did you start out on your path to become an artist? Was this something that you were always passionate about, and knew from a young age that you wanted to do?
Nyco Rudolph: I've loved drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn't until discovering Tintin that I realized that comics were a medium that could rival film or novels in terms of scope and characterization. As a kid, I knew I wanted to draw my own comics professionally but I never stopped to bother figuring out how that would look.
Ryan Tomko: Who (or what) were some of the inspirations for your style?
Nyco Rudolph: Tintin was definitely the biggest early influence for me. I really connected with the simplicity and economy that Herge was so great at. I definitely attribute the humour, zaniness and absurdity to all the Calvin and Hobbes and old Mad Magazine I read as a kid. The heavy film noir influence can be attributed to my discovery of Will Eisner's The Spirit, as well as my steady consumption of classic noir films of the 40's and 50's.
Ryan Tomko: Do you have any favourite creative people out there, other than visual artists, that you think our readers should check out?
Nyco Rudolph: I think it's vital to find inspiration in mediums other than the ones you're working in. There's so many aesthetics and styles that can be found in all mediums and you really limit yourself if you only find inspiration within your own medium. Bruce Springsteen is one of my favourite musicians and he talks a lot about the creative process and about how it's the way that you fit all these different inspirations together, that make you unique.
Ryan Tomko: Can you remember the first thing you created that really resonated with you? (or with others?)
Nyco Rudolph: As a kid, I drew for my own enjoyment. It wasn't until I got older that I realized in order to make any sort of a living off of your art, you need to be creating things that other people can enjoy too. The first piece of art that I felt resonated not only with me but with other people was this show poster I did for a local metal band. The concept for the poster was a sea of zombie concert-goers overtaking the Royal Albert Arms, a grungy punk and metal venue here in Winnipeg. It was the first time I remember ever really trying to flex my creative muscles and trying to impact other people. It was a great feeling to see my own efforts rewarded by a positive response from people once they found out I was the guy who drew that show poster that they'd ripped off the hydro pole and hung in their garage. (Word of advice though, don't do that unless the show's already happened !)
Ryan Tomko: How long does it take you to go from thinking of an initial concept to a finished piece ready for print?
Nyco Rudolph: The answer to this question varies significantly from piece to piece. Around 4 days before Halloween 2015, I had an idea to do a spoof of the old Warren Horror Magazine covers, and I was able to sketch, ink, scan, touch up, colour, send to print, and have prints in my hand for Halloween. One of my most popular prints has been the "Royal Canadian Bear Force" print, which probably took around three weeks from conceptualization to finished print file.
Then there's a piece like "The Big Smoke", which I drew a sketch for back at the 2014 Edmonton Expo but still haven't gotten around to doing the final tweaks and sending it to print. The great thing about doing your own projects is that you aren't beholden to deadlines, but that can also be dangerous if you're the perfectionist type who never feels like they're done with something. As an artist, you definitely need to find that happy middle ground where you're constantly pushing yourself to do better, but you're also thinking of who's going to be enjoying your art and whether or not it's going to bother them that your dinosaur has one too many teeth.
Ryan Tomko: Do you have any unique techniques that you use that you feel are essential to make things feel ‘right’ or make the process more enjoyable?
Nyco Rudolph: I've only gotten into Photoshop in the past two years, but I've been really enjoying all the editing capabilities that it offers. Every single piece of artwork I do starts out as ink and brush on bristol board. I don't think I could ever move away from drawing things on real paper, there's too much satisfaction in it for me. But I really enjoy colouring digitally and adding different lighting effects or vintage paper textures to give my stuff the look of an old propaganda poster. Photoshop's a tool just like anything else and I think for me, my biggest challenge has been learning when to use which types of techniques. Not every piece of art should have near-photorealistic colour to it. Some pieces gain a lot from looking like an old screen print or watercolour painting.
Ryan Tomko: So far what has been your most popular print? What has been your favourite?
Nyco Rudolph: "The Royal Canadian Bear Force" has been my most popular print to date. People really seem to love awful bear puns, as well as anthropomorphic bears. And it was one of my favourite prints to draw, so that's been sort of a win/win for me.
Ryan Tomko: What’s next for you? Any big ideas coming up?
Nyco Rudolph: I'm going to be expanding on the "Bears Invade" series, so keep an eye out for new print series being released throughout the year. I'm also working on the first "Ghost Dick" comic book, an original character loosely based on Casper the Friendly Ghost, only when my character shows up, it's a lot filthier and it ends disastrously for a lot of characters. If you're looking for something a little more serious, “Hell's Ark” is a full length graphic novel noir thriller set in 1930's Halifax.
I have a bunch more ideas up my sleeve but at this point in the start of my career, I'm just trying to throw a bunch of different irons in the fire and seeing what people dig the most.
At the end of the day, I draw and write for my own satisfaction and enjoyment, but what really keeps me going and always aiming higher is seeing people dig my work. Whether they're walking past my table at comicon and burst out laughing or do something as simple as "like" a piece of art on my facebook or instagram, it means so much as an artist to have people react and respond to what it is that you're doing.
Thanks to you guys at 50 Bad Names for asking me these questions, and for you readers for taking the time to read my lengthy responses! Looking forward to meeting more and more of you on the road!