Brite Winter 2015 Artist Spotlight: Randy Crider

Intergalactic spacemen, sloshed robots, sketchbook babes, and hip-hop dinosaurs — welcome to the magical world of Randy Crider. A cartoonist/illustrator whose work has been used for storyboards, comic books, gaming, magazines, fliers, and more. Crider is also the creator of Brite’s faithful mascot, Fluri the Yeti. Aside from his regular hustle, he’s also a member of the beloved Cleveland artist group Rust Belt Monster Collective and teaches cartooning at BAYarts.

Interview by Nikki Delamotte | Update by Todd Sheppard

“I do my best to give Fluri as much heart and energy as I can despite being a bit awkward and tangled up in lights, which sums up the event pretty well, I think, given our winters.” – Randy Crider

How did you get your start as an artist? Did you always skew towards cartooning?

I’ve drawn as long as I can remember, and there’s not a point when you shift from “guy who likes to draw” to “artist”, it’s just a thing I do. It’s always been cartooning, even when I try not to, no class or book has ever been able to shake that from me no matter how much I try. I’m a terrible artistic chameleon, and it pretty much destroys any hopes of an anonymous graffiti career.

You have the coolest characters in your work. Where do you dream them up? Any favorite pieces or characters you’re particularly attached to?

Thanks!  You’re asking the wrong guy where they come from, might be a better question to ask a psychologist. I don’t have any favorite characters, but I’m really into the style I’m using lately, and I enjoy the world that it’s slowly creating.  It’s very flattering that folks are enjoying watching the world take shape with me. 

You’re part of a pretty awesome group, the Rust Belt Monster Collective. What kind of plans do you have in the works and what’s been your favorite thing about collaborating with your best friends over the past years?

Meeting up with the RBMC is like coming home for family dinner. It’s something that we have to do every so often, and it’s really just a bonus that we end up with cool paintings afterwards. This is a big year for us, we’re working with Graffiti Heart and we’ll be installing and painting some new art near the Detroit Shoreway. We’re also working on releasing a book chronicling the past three years of murals and illustrations. Oh, and we have new sparkly buttons. 

When you’re looking for inspiration, what do you continuously come back to – whether other artists, rituals, styles or techniques?

There’s certainly a stable of artists that I steal techniques and styles from, but my pals are the best inspiration. Between The Drink And Draw Social Club (twice a month at Great Lakes Brewing Company) and the figure drawing groups all over town there’s a constant stream of reasons to keep at it. It’s the best thing in the world to have people in your life who you look up to that’ll call you a peer. Lately, the biggest inspiration has been my daughter. Trying to come up with things that she’ll think are cool, and hopefully drawing things to help understand her dad down the line.

fluri 2015You’ve created the artwork for Brite for the past few years. What can you tell us about creating the art and our beloved furry mascot?

He, She, It — depending on who you ask — is named Fluri, and was born out of a few conversations with Aaron Erb about cartoons, it’s kind of Cleveland’s answer to holiday specials. I do my best to give Fluri as much heart and energy as I can despite being a bit awkward and tangled up in lights. I think it sums up the event pretty well given our winters. 

You also teach cartooning. What’s the best part of teaching?

I teach cartooning at BAYArts and it’s always a highlight of my week. They’ll probably never know how much they inspire my work.  It’s the only job I’ve ever had that I get bummed out when I don’t have to go to it. 

Brite Winter takes place every winter. What’s your favorite thing about the winter season?

Brite Winter is my favorite thing about the winter season, especially since the its how the Rust Belt Monster Collective always begins our live painting year. Hot cocoa is nice too I guess. 

You’ve said “Cleveland is such a comic book town and that really needs to be celebrated.” What’s your favorite thing about Cleveland and being an artist in Cleveland?

Nothing makes me happier than a Midwestern work ethic being used for passion and not just survival. I think it’s easy for people to show Cleveland pride because we had to build it ourselves, it didn’t exist before.

See more of Randy Crider’s work at his official website, follow him on Twitter, and get snapshots and sneak peeks of his work on Instagram.