Learn more about artist Rick Antolic in this Maker We Love. If you're into illustrations and coloring books, you'll love Rick's creations! We love the creative, meditative, and relaxing aspects of coloring Pittsburgh.
Maker:Rick Antolic, Artist. I toyed with different titles – illustrator, designer, Fine Artist, and different combinations of those. There are different nuances to those and each one attractive to different markets. But a lot of people were just confused. Eventually I settled on “Artist;” it’s all-encompassing and everyone knows what that is.
I live in Lawrenceville. I moved here in 2003 when people were still moving out. Cheap rent made it a place to go if you were a struggling artist. Now it’s an expensive, trendy place. I miss the days when it was run down. It had a special kind of feel to it, a warm and honest vibe. That’s mostly gone now.
Tell us about your brand and why it’s the best:
When I began my first Pittsburgh coloring book, I looked at other adult coloring books that were of other cities. I noticed how general they all were. You could have ripped a page out of the New York City book and put in the San Francisco book and nobody would notice. I didn’t want mine to be general like that; I wanted it to be Pittsburgh and nowhere else. I put in the time and effort of contacting the various well-known establishments and events around the city and asked their permission to use them in my book. Their kindness in allowing me to include their specific business or event in my Pittsburgh coloring book is what really made my brand of books much better than what had been done previously by other artists.
What is your background and the story behind why you started creating?
I have a classical training background. I studied Fine Art at Carnegie Mellon University. I became an oil painter because the artists I most admired were oil painters – Rembrandt, Michelangelo, N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker…the list goes on. I did my first Pittsburgh Coloring Book as a side project, just something I always wanted to do but never got around to it. So I did one just to get it out of my system, so to speak. I never expected it to be more than just a one-time side project from my oil painting. But I’ve done multiple coloring book projects for various clients in the few years since then. At the time of this writing, I’ve just said yes to yet another client to do a one-page coloring book illustration for a promotional campaign they’re putting together for next spring. It seems that it happens often in art that the thing that becomes successful for the artist is not the thing that they were pursing. I still do a lot of oil painting. I’ve also taken up woodworking in the past few years, not as a business, but as an appreciation for the craft, and discovering the beauty of wood. When I’m not working on art or woodworking, I’m spending quality time with my 18 year old cat, Maddy, who was a rescue from Animal Friends that I bought home in 2007.
What one product do we need to know about and why?
Pittsburgh: A Coloring Book. Most people agree that what made the recent coloring book craze so popular was that it seemed to be a reaction against all the technology that constantly surrounds us in today’s culture. Picking up colored pencils and a coloring book offered a much-needed respite from the chaos of social media, texting, work and/or school, etc. People were reminded of how relaxing and fun it is to color. Although the height of the craze has somewhat subsided, people have NOT lost interest in it! Looks like it’s here to stay! I’m kind of surprised that five years after my first volume came out, people are still buying them and other coloring books. I like the message that I take from that: There will always be a desire to put away technology now and then, and engage in something old-fashioned and timeless.
In three words, why do you love Pittsburgh?
People Are FRIENDLY!
How can people find out more about you?
To get a better range of what I do, people can visit my website: www.rickantolic.com. I had accidentally created two Instagram accounts (that’s another story). I think I might have a twitter account too. If you search on those for me you’ll likely find my accounts, but I don’t use them. I probably should; that’s what everyone tells me. But, to me, being on multiple social media platforms and updating and posting content feels like a full time job. I’d rather use that time making art instead…or napping.
I have two facebook pages that I sometimes use: