According to Ric Speed, as a Gemini, he needs balance in his life. "I have a tenacious, hard-nosed practical side which I find useful for making a living, but there is also a creative side which must express itself. Being a compulsive techie, I have used computers to channel these creative forces. Thus, I have come to computer enhancement of digital photography as a medium of choice. Whereas traditional photography seeks to capture the world as it is, I choose to use the computer to extend photography into the realm of painting by adding depth and textural enhancements to the image that evoke a more impressionist look and feel to the picture."
Speed was an Army brat that grew up around the country, living the longest in Austin, Texas. According to him, He spent the 'Summer of Love' living in a rock theater in San Francisco. He lived in Dallas in the 80's and 90's and worked as a programmer while finding expression of his creative side by being a member of Poetry Circus and Dancing Tongue, performance poetry groups. Being a programmer, he was early on into personal computers, having a Timex-Sinclair 2000, a Commodore 64 and several Amigas. His first exposition of computer generated art was in 1984. He created animations on the Amiga and showed them on Dallas Cable Access, winning an award for his show "Cyberdelix". With the demise of the Amiga, he moved to the PC, working in Photoshop. In 2001 he move to New Mexico and was an initial member of the Digital Fine Arts Society of New Mexico.After moving to Corrales, Speed became a member of CSA and then a board member. He participates in the organizations functions. He is also a member of the Galleria de Corrales cooperative gallery and has shown his work there for more than four years.
Q. When did you start making art?
I know most people wouldn't think of it as 'art', but in high school I was very much into analytical geometry and drawing of graphs of algebraic functions. I would get graph paper, plot out a bunch of points and draw the curve they defined. When at the University of Texas, I saw a poster advertising a contest of computer graphics offered by Calcomp. I decided I had to somehow get involved with computer graphics. My first presentation was in 1984. A shopping mall in Plano, Texas had a display of computer art and I had a Timex 2000, a $25.00 computer about the size of a deck of cards that I used to generate patterns on a roll of paper tape, which was draped in and around the other art.
Q. Who was the most influential person in your life, as it relates to art?
Vincent van Gogh – his work still influences me every time I see it.
Q. How do you choose your subject?
I seem to work in themes – fractals, faces over European doors, kachinas, horse noses, etc. Fractals are related to the answer to question #1, being in Paris and Venice introduced me to the faces over doors and windows, I've been working with kachinas since I meet the Pooley family at Indian Market and bought my first kachinas. We had horses for a while and when I tried to photograph Lady, the grey mare, she kept sticking her nose into the camera to see if she could eat it. All of these things set up an interest and I would follow it.
Q. What is your medium? Why do you prefer it over others? (Tell us about your computer skills)
My medium is the computer. I have programmed for a living since 1968, mostly business programming. In order to keep my sanity, I turned to using the computer for art. I got my first Commodore 64 in the early 80's and Amiga in 1984. I did a lot of fractals, which on an Amiga took forever. I also had a sampling synthesizer and used it, along with the Amiga. By the mid 90's, I had gone over to the Windows side and got into Photoshop; got a scanner and 35mm camera, and started manipulating scanned photos, mostly kachinas and pictures from trips out West. So, the computer is my medium for not only art, but music, animation and poetry. Right now, I'm working on a sound collage based on Poe's The Bells.
Q. What type of research do you do prior to beginning?
I tend to do research after the fact. I see something interesting, take and work with the picture, then research the subject to give back-story to the picture. I believe people can relate to a work of art if they have a context in which to understand it.
Q. What inspires you to produce art?
It's fun. I like to hack on the computer and having access to programs like the Adobe Creative Cloud suite allows me to exercise my right-brain while using my left-brain.
Q. Did you have formal art education?
I have no formal education or training in art, but what education I received in computing had little to do with what I ended up doing – I just sat down and worked at the problem till I had it solved. It's much the same with the art and music. I just start hacking (not the evil kind) at trying to get the computer to do what I want.
Q. Have you professionally made a living with your art? How? (Freelance, in business- illustrator, etc.)
I started selling art after I retired, and no, I'm not making a living at it. I performed regularly with Poetry Circus, but never got more than $20 for any given performance. Again, then I was doing that to balance out with the dreadful banality of my day job and now I do it because I enjoy it.
Q. What would you recommend to young artists pursuing a career in the arts today?
Be technically competent. Like it or not, the cutting edge of creativity these days is in the cybersphere. Millennials don't buy art to hang on the walls, they find it on the web. This makes making a living very hard, but making it as an artist is hard, anyhow. The challenge is to find a way to use the current technology to provide a livable income. I haven't figured it out yet, but there are lots of young, intelligent technophiles out there who are creative enough to figure it out.