Blanco: Richard Blanco aka Slackertide is an illustrator, graphic designer, and artist who just tries to make some funny and cool fishing art. I started using the name Slackertide because I thought it worked well with the art I was making… Most of the characters I draw are in some way slackers. My generation was often called “slackers”, and everybody knows slack-tide is the best time to make art.
Flylords: I must admit you have some of the most creative fly fishing artwork out there. When did you start mixing art and fly fishing?
Blanco: I only started mixing art and Fly fishing about 2 years ago, so it’s been a pretty recent turn of events. I made an abrupt change in my style which just happened to coincide with me picking up a fly rod for the first time. Prior to that I was making mostly abstract work and selling primarily through galleries. It was really cool to be involved in part that of the art world for a while, but ultimately it just didn’t feel right form, and I knew I needed a change. So I decided, reluctantly, to attempt some fishing related art. I say reluctantly because I live in South Florida and fish art is everywhere, and although I wanted to try fishing as a subject, I knew I didn’t want to make the same typical fishing paintings as everybody else. So that’s I try to work in humor or something clever into the subject, just as a way to stand out.
Flylords: Do you remember the first time you picked up a fly rod?
Blanco: Absolutely. It was a total disaster. I borrowed a friends rig and attempted casting at a local lake. I snagged every reed, lily pad, bush, and tree within 10 yards. And oh yeah I also ended accidentally breaking the rod. Despite the frustration and damage, I loved it. Fly fishing had introduced me to an entirely new facet of an activity which I’ve been enjoying my whole life.
Flylords: What inspires the unique characters you draw?
Blanco: They ’re really all inspired by the pop culture that has influenced me. I’m a child of the late ’70s and 80’s, so the sources of my inspiration tend to be from that time period because that’s what I’m most nostalgic about. The inspiration could come from anything – a movie, or band, a skate deck, advertising — as long as I have a personal connection to it. The real challenge for me is how to merge the cultural source and fishing references together into a good parody. There’s usually some sort of subtle joke taking place in each piece and without that, the drawings just don’t work as well.
Flylords: We know you are a Florida Native, what is your favorite fish to target on the fly? Does Florida influence your work?
Blanco: Like I said I’m pretty new to fly fishing… I love to go after bass, Mayan cichlids, tilapia, and pickerel (and an occasional alligator) that I have in the ponds near my home. I try to take a break from work every day to fish for 15-20 minutes and ponds are what I have close by. But when I have more free time I like to go for snook and any other inshore species I can find. Florida has a huge influence on my work. I definitely try to incorporate local species and references into my work whenever I can.
Flylords: How long have you been drawing for? What do you use to make your digital work?
Blanco: I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I’m one of those people that picked it up and never put it down, although I tend to go through periods which I just draw or just paint, or just do design work. As of late, I make all my digital work on an iPad Pro and I use an app called Procreate. It’s been a game changer for me. Professionally I’ve been a graphic designer for 20 years. My graphic work was almost entirely done in Photoshop and Illustrator, but I always felt there was always a disconnect between my “art” work and my “design” work. Now with the iPad, it’s like the two worlds are coming together seamlessly.
Flylords: Do you have a favorite piece of art you have made?
Blanco: Not really… usually, the last piece I’ve made is what I hold in highest regard, but that quickly subsides once I’m onto the next project. However there some pieces that have felt more like milestones than favorites… like my first big sale, or the paintings I made for my first gallery show or the first art I made for a brand.
Flylords: Tell us a little about your new brand Eddy Redd?
Yeah! Eddy Redd is a project that I’m super pumped about. It’s a fishing based apparel brand that I’m creative directing. We actually just launched! We’re coming out strong with over two dozen shirt designs, a ton of hats, and some other really cool accessories. I’m designing all the graphics for the shirts and hats. We’ve been working really hard to make some quality products. Our shirts are all custom colors on our own blend of performance cotton. The hats are all really great quality too! The art work for the brand is definitely my style but not as pop culture focused. I think people are really gonna dig it. You can watch it all unfold at @eddyreddbrand
Flylords: Can you give some advice for an aspiring artist?
Blanco: To me, the most important thing you can do is show up every day and put in the work. You’ve gotta have a really strong work ethic to make it as an artist because its a solo endeavor. Nobody is going to tell you that you have to make art today… It’s likely the opposite. For me, it meant years and years of making work at night after my day job just to get any traction. I also think its important when starting out to take on as many projects as you can, and in as many varieties as you can, and just keep grinding. If you stick to that your work is guaranteed to improve.
Flylords: Has social media been helpful to you as an artist?
Blanco: It’s been tremendously helpful. Without it, I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I’ve had such as starting a brand or working with loads of amazing clients.
Flylords: What’s next?
Blanco: In the near future I’m going to be pretty intently focused on developing Eddy Redd. Creating a brand around my designs from the ground up is exciting, and scary, and a huge learning experience that I couldn’t be more stoked about! I’ll also continue jamming out stuff for Slackertide, it’s too much fun to put down!