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An Interview by M. Macartney

A new Las Vegas artist is leaving his trademark all over the city.  Since moving here from Michigan only a year ago, he has garnered a well-respected reputation as THE artist to have.  His work adorns some of the finest homes in the Vegas valley:  Turnberry Place, Anthem, Seven Hills, Southern Highlands, Far Hills, Vistas of Summerlin…  He has become the exclusive SLV Artist, painting a beautiful woman every month for the magazine and adding humor with his cartoons.  He has a long history of creating art for posters, CD’s, magazine covers, and wall murals for over twenty years.

SLV:  Who taught you how to draw and paint?
RUBY:  My mentors? ...all the old masters:  DaVinci, Rubens, Rembrandt, Dali, Monet, Van Gogh, and of course, Michelangelo …the real masters.  You could say I studied under these artists because I was so enamored with them.  I researched every bit of reading material I could find on them, and just devoured it.  I spent hour upon hour teaching myself their techniques.  The work of the masters had an end result much different than what we see today.  Their brushes were old…  Their materials were hand-made…  Van Gogh, for example, lived a life of poverty.  If you’re freezing and you can barely manipulate your fingers while you’re painting, some of those brush strokes are bound to reflect that.

SLV:  How old were you when you realized that you had artistic talent?
RUBY:  As far back as I can remember, maybe around 4 or so—I used to sit in front of the TV and draw pictures of images that I saw.  The first thing I drew was a choo choo train.  In grade school, I was drawing T-Rex’s and other dinosaurs.  In middle school, I was drawing hot rods, cartoons, and creating my own concert posters of the bands that I was listening to on underground radio.  At one time, I sent some of the posters to a radio station.  The DJ, Russ Gibb, hung them up, and then someone from the station contacted me and asked me to do some work, but when they found out I was only twelve, of course, they couldn’t hire me. 

SLV:  So what ended up being some of your first jobs as an artist?
RUBY:  Without any portfolio, I dropped a pile full of raw sketches and doodles on the art director’s desk at Metropolitan Detroit Magazine, and they hired me on the spot.  That was my first.  Then, I moved to California and I worked for a couple of years illustrating for a floral magazine, drawing the flower-version of a “Centerfold” each month.  Of course, after that, FTD had to have me do their covers. 

SLV:  That’s when you moved back to Michigan?
RUBY:  Yeah, for more flowers… but it was the special fx job that really lured me back.  I got to work with Sam Raimi and on all of the Evil Dead series movies… it was the coolest shit ever!  Low pay—long hours, but great fun.  Animating Darkman added another facet to my artistry, but working on Howard Zeem’s  “Flesh Gordon and the Cosmic Cheerleaders”  was a hoot! 

SLV:  Then you did all those covers for the Metro Times magazine in Detroit.
RUBY:  Yes, over 50 of those bad boys.  They were all airbrush pieces—one of my favorite mediums of all time.

SLV:  How did you get involved doing art for CD’s?
RUBY:  A band that was big in the area, (‘Oriental Spas’) needed a logo and some backdrops painted for their next cd release.  And that’s when “Fang” was born—a killer dragon logo that I did for them.  After that, I not only did their cd covers, but also posters, merchandising—you name it.  That’s when my friendship first started with the Big Kahuna—Scott.  (SLV’s own Editor-in-Chief, Scott Santos) —and we’ve been working together ever since… Scott needs a cartoon—you got it, a pin-up girl—I’m there.

SLV:  What inspires you?
RUBY:  Everything in life.  Every sound, every taste, every smell… well, not every smell.  (laughter)  But seriously—my children, along with the intricate details of nature—a pattern in a leaf, a cloud in the sky, the colors of the extraordinary sunsets we have here in Vegas…

SLV:  Are there certain color combinations that attract you or are your favorites?
RUBY:  Red, black, and white I think are very striking.  Then there’s every combination with black:  blue, gold, orange, yellow.  The only color that I rarely use is green.

SLV:  What styles of murals have you done for people?
RUBY:  I’ve done everything from an undersea world to the rainforest, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, art deco to abstract, cobblestone streets of Italy to the Parisian cabarets of Moulin Rouge, Trompe L’oeil to kitties.  (laughter)  Of course, I always enjoy the traditional favorites of the Victorian, Baroque, and Post-impressionism.  It’s part of the versatility that is me.  I love being a chameleon.  You can’t pigeon hole me and say,  “That’s R.Ruby’s style,”  because I love painting all styles.     

SLV:  Is there anything that a client would ask you to do that would give you pause, wondering if you could create what they are asking for?
RUBY:  No, I look forward to that challenge.

SLV:  The mural you did of the family on vacation at the beach, actually putting the family members in the mural, I loved that concept.
RUBY:  It was the ocean and beaches of Cancun.  They gave me photographs of their vacation, and wanted me to recreate that memory on their entrance wall of their estate, so that they could relive that moment day after day. 

SLV:  When I look at some of the murals that you’ve painted, they make you feel like you can reach out and touch them, like it’s coming to life.  That’s quite an accomplishment.
RUBY:  Thank you.  It’s always very satisfying to see the look on a client’s face, not only at the end—but throughout the process.  They tend to have this look of disbelief.  It’s very rewarding.

SLV:  What percent of your clients are pleased with your work?
RUBY:  All of them!  No, really.  I’m not satisfied, if they’re not 100% satisfied.  You know, professionalism is my first priority, and all of my clients realize that.  They feel at ease when I go into their homes by entrusting me with their private access codes, house keys… some prefer to even leave town so that they can come home to their beautiful new masterpiece.  I won’t sign my name to it until it’s ready to go in my portfolio.

SLV:  Are you enjoying your work for SLV magazine?
RUBY:  The pin-ups for SLV are a lot of fun, very loose and freeform.  I enjoy painting beautiful women, who wouldn’t?  And SLV has some of the most beautiful women, wouldn’t you agree?   SLV

You can contact the artist Richard Ruby at Rubyillustration.com or by calling (702) 658-9362.