Interview with the brilliant Rick Spears!

Today’s movies and television can present challenges for parents. Is it too violent? Is there nudity or bad language? The good news is most movies and even a few television programs now come with ratings and warning labels. If the movie is rated R, it’s best not to allow young children to watch it alone.

What about books? They don’t come with ratings and warning labels? If it’s in the children’s category, does that make it safe to read? Not always. The best way to ensure a book is appropriate for your child is to read the book yourself and educate yourself on well-known authors and illustrators. That is why I have decided to interview a few illustrators and authors to give parents an insider look on some of the books your child might be interested in reading.

First up, is the brilliantly talented Rick Spears the illustrator, not to be confused with Rick Spears the comic book writer. His work has appeared in many children’s publications including, but not limited to: ‘Alien Investigations’, ‘In Search of Sasquatch’, ‘Dinosaur Parade’, ‘Dinosaur Mummies’, and my personal favorite ‘Tales of the Cryptids.’

Q: Which do you prefer: working in 3D or flat illustration?

A: I like the 3D stuff better than 2D, because with drawing, you have to figure out the shading. With 3D stuff, it’s kind of built in!

Q: When did you first start drawing?

A: June 27th, 1965. Actually, I don’t know for sure, but I do remember being around 4, and my dad giving me paper from his office to draw on.

Q: For your illustrations, what materials do you use?

A: I prefer drawing with pencil or Sharpie on a nice Bristol board paper, then scanning it into and coloring it with my computer.

Q: Do you have a specific process when starting an illustration project or does each project come to life on its own?

A: I’ll get an initial image in my head, and then sketch it out to see if it really works. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it leads to a better idea.

Q: What recommendations would you have for young people interested in working in an art career?

A: It depends on what kind of art you want to do, but as far as my kind of art (natural history-related), say it’s important to be a good observer. Study science, especially animal anatomy. Techniques change all the time, but artists still need to learn to “see” the world. However, with any kind of art (or anything else, really) just do it! Draw all the time! Sketch! Doodle! Practice!

Q: Do you have a favorite scale-model? If so, why is it your favorite?

A: My favorite ‘scale’ to work in is 1:1, or life-size So, my fave so far is a life-size T. rex. On a smaller scale, my fave was a model of an albertosaurus feasting on a duck-billed dinosaur. It was about 1 ft. long.

Q: How do you decide on the designs for your models?

A: Each model’s design is determined by many factors, including: what animal it is, how big it is, what pose it’s in, and where it’ll be displayed.

Q: What materials do you use?

A: If it’s a small model, I might use a self-hardening epoxy clay. Larger models may be carved foam with an epoxy clay skin. Big life-sized animals are sculpted foam with a paper-mache-like skin, to make the more light-weight.

Q: I see on your webpage a picture of a creature you were working on just outside of your house. So I have to ask, what do your neighbors think?

A: Ha! That was in the Winter, so most people weren’t outside much. I did get a few stares, but no one really said anything.

Q: You’ve done a lot in the field of cryptids. Do you have an opinion on their existence?

A: Despite the wonders of technology and global connectivity, the world is still a big place with many places for mysterious species to inhabit. I have no doubt there are animals that remain unknown to science.

Q: When choosing a project, are there certain items which catch your interest before others? Dinosaurs? Submarines?

A: Dinosaurs, of course! Any prehistoric animals, actually. Then cryptids. Then space stuff. Submarines are still cool, I just haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with any as of late.

Q: The Planetarium shows sound like they are both fun and educational. Which planetarium show has been your favorite so far?

A: Wow… that’s a tough question, because I have many faves. I think, though, it would have to be one called “The Amazing Space Race”. It’s about intergalactic contenders flying their spaceships in a – well – a space race. I designed the show to have 3 separate endings, so a different racer can win each time the program is shown.

Q: Which movie did you most enjoy working on? Why?

A: Probably when I made some fake rocks for “Eight-Legged Freaks”, a movie about giant spiders that attack a desert town. I liked working on it, because I got to make the rocks at home and then ship them out to the set. The movie was produced by one of the guys that made the American Godzilla movie, so I carved one of the rocks to look like a Godzilla head. I don’t know if it made it into the movie, because the “rock scene” goes by pretty fast.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: Just updating some dinosaur exhibits at work right now. I may be making a life-sized mastodon and calf later next year for a museum.

Time for a few silly questions to keep my readers on their toes…

Q: How much money did you win on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

A: Not enough. Actually I did all right. I got a check for $250,000.00 which I shared with the IRS.

Q: What’s your favorite dinosaur?

A: Allosaurus. My favorite non-dinosaur that some people think is a dinosaur: Dimetrodon.

Q: If you were a dinosaur, which would you be?

A: One that was still alive… so probably a bird.

Q: If there was a Jurassic Park opening in the USA, what role would you play in the building, designing, or running of the business?

A: I would like to be involved with designing interpretive exhibits, probably… Why? What have you heard?

Q: Who would win an arm wrestling match: Bigfoot or Abdominal Snowman?

A: I’d have to go with Bigfoot, because it uses its arms more on a daily basis. But, I assume the Abdominal Snowman has great abs.

Q: Which would you fear the most: Meeting the Jersey Devil alone on a dark night or an alien abduction?

A: I’m gonna say the Jersey Devil, because it does not exist, so if I met up with it that would be REALLY scary! An alien abduction? What’s with these probing questions?

To learn more about Rick Spears please visit his website:

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