• Equestria Daily Interview Series: Interview with IDW MLP Cover Artist Sara Richard

    The comic series is one of the best ways for us to get some official pony while we wait for season five, and something a lot of you still need to try out!  We wouldn't have a series without the artists and writers behind it though, and one in particular has agreed to do an interview with us.  You may recognize her designs from the premium cover lines released by IDW a while back, along with some of the badass art that has popped up throughout the series lifecycle.  Sara Richard has one of the most unique styles of the various people on the project, and she even drew one for us! Quadruple the cool points!

    The Illustrious Q, who usually gathers our official comic info during each update, went out there to conduct it as a guest writer for EQD.  This is something I mentioned starting a while back on Twitter, and he jumped at it before we even opened it.  That's initiative right there!

    I'll quit blabbering though.  Head on down below the break for the full interview with MLP Comic Artist Sara Richard, along with an exclusive full reveal of her 1 Million Cover Variant!

    Sara, I know you’ve been asked who your favorite pony is countless times by now, with the answer unchanging from Rainbow Dash right?

    Yeah! Of the main characters, she’s still my favorite!

    Nice! So, let’s start off with something a little outside of the MLP focused questions and move on to something kind of related but not. How did you get interested in doing what you do for art?

    I guess I just, like, always drew. I always painted. I just always kind of came up with characters. And I can’t really, like, explain myself… I’m not very good with words. So I was always much better with
    drawing out what I was trying to say. So I guess I just got kind of good at that.

    Trying to tell people what I mean by drawing it, or like any character I came up with, it was easier for me to draw it out than try to explain it. So yeah, I guess I kind of always had an overactive imagination.

    I just really got art. I’m definitely not good with numbers. So, I think I’m not that side of the brain.

    I think a lot of people can relate to that.

    Yeah, yeah. So… yeah! *laughs*

    One of the things I remember talking to you about earlier was that you mentioned that Art Deco and Art Nouveau were big influences on your artistic style. Was there any specific artist in either of those genres who influenced your work specifically? Or was it more of a mishmash?

    Definitely Alphonse Luca. He’s like kind of the poster child for Art Nouveau. Every kid who goes to art school goes through their like “Luca phase.” I actually have a tattoo of one of his pieces on my arm. So he’s definitely one of my favorites.

    I also really, really like Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh. Before Nouveau, before Deco, she was in this crafters period that they were going through in Scotland. Her and her sister (Frances MacDonald)
    worked together, and they worked together so well that sometimes you can’t really tell who did what. I have a tattoo of one of their sketches. No one’s really sure which one of sisters did it or if they worked together on it. I guess it’s kind of neat to have that kind of mystery behind it.

    They did a lot of really cool line work. They put all these beads in their lines. Some of the lines that they have in their pieces are made of out like string and very tactile medium. So in a lot of the pieces I do, sometimes I’ll put the little circles in the line work, so that’s kind of my homage, I guess, to them.

    And as far as Art Deco, Erté is definitely my favorite. His costume work… he’s just like a fabulous human being that lived, *laughs*, and I wish I could’ve met him. He’s next on my tattoo list. His stuff is just so graphic, and his costume design is just amazing.

    I kind of am inspired by all those guys. And then just in general like the geometric shapes in Art Deco and organic line work of Art Nouveau, I really like how those two play off each other, cause they’re so different! You know it’s really straight lines in Art Deco and then really plant like lines in Art Nouveau I think are really fun opposites to play with.

    And Art Nouveau, also like to me, it just adds life to everything! With the line quality and line work in it.

    So yeah! Art Nerd! Blahblahblah! *laughs*

    *laughs* Well, I think it’s safe to say were all nerds here, so...

    Totally! *laughs*

    But painting isn’t the only thing you’ve tried your hand at with art. You’ve also tried your hand at sculpting? At Hasbro?

    Yes. Right after I graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design, I had a teacher who had the sculpt manager at Hasbro as a student. And my last year at the school was their first year trying out this workshop where Hasbro comes and shows you how they do things and then they challenge you make your own figure. And the best figure, you know, you get an internship at Hasbro.

    I really, really, you know, wanted it. I stayed up many a late night. Well the guidelines were you had to have a figure with four points of articulation at least, or six points. And then I made one that was
    twenty-six points ‘cause I really, really wanted this job. And it was like this weird harpy kind of girl and her toes were articulated, and it was cool.

    So anyways, because I was graduating they were like ‘we can’t offer you an internship’ and I man so
    bummed. But then they were like ‘but we can give you a temp position,’ so it was cool.

    So I that in house for a year, went freelance but worked primarily for them for a year, then went back in house for a year. And it was cool. And it was really neat. It was really helpful. Sculpting really helps you figure out how to draw certain things too, especially with foreshortening and angles and stuff.

    I worked on some G.I. Joe, Marvel, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, which those figures you can still find
    pictures of them online. They’ll hopefully be officially released next year when the forth movie comes out. At least I’m hoping, ‘cause that’s like my favorite movie.

    And Littlest Pet Shop. And I actually did one concept My Little Pony while I was there. But Girl’s Toys and Boy’s Toys were separated department wise. So I worked mostly in Boy’s Toys since that was my temp position.

    Long story short, yes! I did sculpting. I haven’t done it in a really long time though. I much prefer
    illustration because I feel like I have more of a style in that.

    So you ended up starting out at Hasbro as a sculptor, then you end up leaving to pursue your own art as an illustrator. So, isn’t it a small wonder that end up working for IDW on Hasbro’s My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop properties?

    It’s one of those really funny things where it’s like super coincidental. I think. *laughs*

    I don’t know. It’s cool. Because after my Jurassic Park stuff I’m really hoping comes out, I’m hoping that for IDW I can get a second chance at some of my favorite shows that are properties of Hasbro that IDW will hopefully get a license for, or who knows in the future what will happen. Cause IDW does a lot of Hasbro properties. They’ve done G.I. Joe, My Little Pony of course, and Littlest Pet Shop. So, I don’t know. It’s kinda cool how sometimes it just comes back around.

    But, I feel like that with the illustration it’s more on my terms, and that I can have more of a voice in the illustration work than I did with sculpting. So, I’m enjoying this a lot more because I can be more of an individual, I can have more of my style through this method.

    With sculpting, it was like you had to follow a very strict design that a design has drawn up. So you
    couldn’t really, I mean, you had a little bit of wiggle room to kind of put your own zazz on it, but you had to stick very, very close to what the character actually looked like. If it was Star Wars you couldn’t get too crazy with it since it was a very distinct character.

    So yes. Yes. I am very happy with the way this whole IDW thing is working out. And they’re super cool guys. IDW is just full of really awesome people. So it’s really neat to get to work with some cool people.

    Speaking of IDW and MLP, and working with really cool people, I know Double Midnight Comics was your door into working on the IDW MLP: Micro Series covers.

    Oh totally. Those guys are amazing. It definitely, definitely helped getting my work to them. I actually contacted the Editor and Chief (of IDW), Chris Ryall, because of a Womanthology Kickstarter. One of the incentives (for that Kickstarter) was a portfolio review. So they saw my work through that.

    And then with Double Midnight that just really, really helped remind them, or really show them that I
    really, really wanted to do this. And that I could do this. And it was great because with them letting me do that whole series it showed that I could meet deadlines, be consistent, and have my own style and see how people react to it and everything.

    So yeah, Double Midnight, they are awesome guys. Other awesome people, yes! For sure!

    Retailer exclusive covers are such an awesome thing that IDW does and that certain stores do. It really, really helps the artists have a chance to get to these editors. Otherwise you have to wait for a certain convention, and maybe it goes well maybe it doesn’t. Who knows.

    For a store that believes in you enough, it really, really helps the artist.

    So, yay Double Midnight!

    Well not just Double Midnight, but Larry’s and Jetpack, among various others.

    Yeah totally! I don’t know them too much, I mostly just know Double Midnight. I think I did an
    emergency cover for Larry’s like a while ago, but it’s been mostly just Double Midnight for me! But
    Agnes (Garbowska) would be able to talk more about Jetpack and Larry’s.

    I have to say favorite cover of the six that you did as Retailer Exclusives for Double Midnight is the
    Karate Kid Parody you did for Pinkie’s Micro. I’ve have to know, which one was your absolute favorite to put together?

    It’s probably that one. I really like the Pinkie Pie one because I didn’t think I could do it. ‘Cause I was like ‘they won’t let me do a blatant Karate kid thing.’ So I was really surprised they let me do that one.

    But, I think my other favorite one is the Twilight Sparkle one. ‘Casue it was my first one, but I also got to put in all my favorite bits of art, like you know all the art history stuff. So I got to put in some of the Alphonse Luca, and some of the Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh, Salvador Dolly, and Picasso and really all those influential artists.

    So it was kind of fun to give these guys some of their due. Especially Margaret MacDonald, I just really wanted to put something of hers in there since she was such an influence. She’s findable online, but you really can’t find a lot of her work, as compared to her husband (Charles Rennie Mackintosh) who she worked with, and he was an architect and everything, but he’s much more well known.

    So, I kind of wanted to give the girl some of her due through My Little Pony I guess.

    Nothing wrong with that.

    No, not at all, not at all. I don’t think she would have ever expected that, which is awesome.

    So yeah, she’s cool. I would recommend everybody check out her and her sister. Their art is fantastic.

    So those Double Midnight Covers in turn led to:

    • an addition four covers for the Micro Series as the retailer incentive covers
    • seven covers for the Friendship is Magic series
    • a MLP Art and a MLP Cover Gallery that should really be called the Sara Richard Gallery issues 1 and 2

    That was cool! I didn’t expect that! That was awesome!

    • two of your covers in the IDW MLP Portfolio
    • and the Halloween Comic Fest 2013 MLP Comic Cover

    Just to name the mass produced products that IDW has release over the past 2 years.

    Yeah, it’s been crazy!

    I’d say the word incredible, but yeah!

    You know, crazy, incredible. I interchange those at lot. *laughs*

    So how does it feel knowing that your art has been featured so prominently by IDW for this series?

    It’s awesome. Like when I first started doing comic conventions, I was like ‘I want to be a cover artist.’ And everyone was like ‘Well, good luck with that. You need to be somebody famous for anyone to give cover work. You need to pay your dues in sequentials before anybody will even consider you for cover work.’ And I was like, ‘Well what I am going to do? My style, and just how I work, because it’s all
    traditionally, it’s going to take forever to do sequentials.’ And with all the lines I want to put in stuff, it doesn’t translate well into simple and--

    *sighs*I don’t know. I’m still working on sequential work. Like trying to do it well.

    So it’s been awesome! I’m doing covers! This is what I want to do! And I proved that I could do it
    without having to go a long way about it. I’ve been very lucky, but I also worked my butt off too.

    Like I said about IDW, they’re so cool with different styles. You know, not traditional comic styles. And I think that’s really added to their success, because they look different than a lot of the stuff that you’ll see on the shelves. With them, it doesn’t matter if you have a pagerly style or a cutesy style. They’ll give you a chance. Unlike some of the other companies where I did a portfolio review and they just laughed at me.

    It’s been awesome. I can’t say enough good things about IDW. They’ve just been so good to me.

    And speaking of being prominently featured, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention your involvement with IDW Limited. How did that little project come about?

    Oh boy! Well, one of the heads of IDW Limited, which is a separate division of IDW, but it’s a separate section from the comic part, was like I have this idea that we want to do. I was like okay.

    I had no idea how crazy big it was going to be. It was a lot of fun, but it was definitely, definitely quite a project. I did all the 11x14 plates. I think I did like 30 of those. It was definitely an exercise in confusing myself. *laughs*

    But yeah they’re awesome. They really know how to market one piece of art and use that in so many
    awesome and fun ways. Like a special poster or, you know, one of the covers I did for that portfolio
    thing was that Halloween special. I thought that was kind of cool how that worked out. These guys really know how to do this.

    IDW Limited is fantastic! They’re all awesome guys too. They know how to really market their stuff. It’s very cool. They’re very creative with the stuff they put out.

    Oh yes. 30 original paintings and how many art cards exactly?

    I don’t even remember. I think my brain kind of hit a firewall at some point. I just blanked out and then they got done.


    Yeah, it’s a survival mechanism. *laughs*

    Now it’s my understand that six of those pieces that were originally for the IDW limited series were chosen for a poll that Equestria Daily ran on May 16, 2013 to turn one of those into an 18” x 24” limited edition lithograph.

    Oh yeah, yep! With IDW Limited I kind of brought up the idea that I would like to make prints of these, I really just wanted to see if I could make prints of them myself, and they were like ‘oh we should just make Lithos.’ So I was like, okay that sounds cool. I’ve never had Lithos done of anything. And they look awesome. They’re really nicely done.

    I know the poll ended up with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie and Vinyl Scratch. Which is cool cause they were two of my favorite ones! So it’s cool having those in a super big size to have that chose. They had me remark a much of them as well, so that was really fun to do!

    And speaking of the Rainbow Dash Lithograph, that one ended up being the cover to the MLP: Art Gallery.

    Yeah, it’s cool. That was a little idea that I had and it’s really cool to see where it went.

    So many good things have been happening with that.

    Yeah, it just seemed like something that she would do.

    Sitting on the cloud on a beautiful night.

    Yeah, The Aurora Borealis because Rainbow Dash is best pony.

    I suppose your love of hang gliding had something to do with that love of Rainbow Dash, right?

    Yes, yes indeed. I get her and her need for speed in the air. She’s my favorite. She’s just so cool, and
    colorful, and sporty. I guess I’ve always kind of been that way. Plus she flies so automatically she goes up the list for me.

    That must be something else, actually hang gliding. Where do you do that anyways?

    There is this really cool place in New Hampshire. It’s called Morningside Flight Park. I believe it’s in the Claremont-Charlestown area in New Hampshire. It’s this great place to learn how to hang glide and paraglide. It’s this really great hill where you gradually learn to play in the sky.

    You’re flying dreams become way cooler after you’ve gone hang gliding a bunch. The people there are super nice, and it’s a great place to learn how to do it. There are hang gliding schools all over, but for the New England area, Morningside is great.

    I’ve always wished I could fly, so when I found out that there was a place to do it near me that, one
    summer I just decided to try it out and got hooked. So now I have two gliders at the moment. I just got a new one that’s more of a big girl glider that I’m trying to learn how to fly. I’m just trying to figure it out a little bit. But it’s a fun challenge.

    I would recommend it. And there are a bunch of pilots who are afraid of heights so I don’t accept the
    “I’m afraid of heights” thing, at all. So I recommend it to everybody to try.

    I think I’ve covered just about everything you’ve done for MLP:FiM here, except for one thing. What can you tell us about 1 Million Variant Cover that you did to help IDW Celebrate the huge milestone of selling 1 Million copies of Friendship is Magic?

    There’s not really too much I can say about it. Just that the original painting will be auctioned off for
    charity and that there will be an announcement about it this year at San Diego.

    But yeah, they just wanted something cool and fun celebrating how wonderfully crazy this entire My
    Little Pony adventure has been. So it was kind of fun making all the ponies interacting with each other.

    So aside from that, you’ll find out more soon.

    (Editors Note: Sara Richard’s 1 Million Cover Variant was first seen at The American international Toy Fair 2014, as shown on the right.

    Below, Equestria Daily has an exclusive reveal of the full variant cover as provide by Sara Richard with permission from IDW).

    Now aside from My Little Pony, you’ve also done covers for IDWs Littlest Pet Shop series, and their The Powerpuff Girls series, right?


    That must have been something to work with those two properties.

    Yeah! It was cool. I think I got really spoiled with the My Little Pony stuff. Cause I felt like I could just do my style and it would be fine.

    They’re much more particular on Littlest Pet Shop and Powerpuff Girls about staying on model, which was a really fun challenge to do. Because I got, I wouldn’t say lazy, but I got kind of set that I could put my own spin on something and it would be okay. It reminded of when I was at Hasbro, when working at sculpting you have to follow a model sheet. So it was cool, and it kind of brought me back.

    And one of the few sequentials I have ever done is in Womanthology. I think Issue #5…

    The story In the Drink, right?

    Yeah! That’s one of the few times I’ve done sequentials. It was interesting, but it’s something I need to work on for sure.

    Well that does lead to the obvious question of if you feel more comfortable doing sequentials in the future, can we possibly see some interior pages of MLP from you?

    There’s a very particular story. If I could do a dream sequence I would be over the moon to do that. I’ve been talking to Angus and she’s like ‘Oh I’m working all these hours, you know I worked and I didn’t sleep last night,’ and I’m like ‘Oh my god! I could never do that.’

    I like covers because I can pour everything into a piece. I really just like, not instant gratification, having the piece done because I feel like I have all my concentration in one place. Whereas if I did sequentials I would have to work on spreading out all my energy over a really long project. But, if there was something with Zecora with all the magic and swirly stuff I would be all over that.

    Like a short little… You like know how Katie (Cook) does some of those short stories?


    Something like that, that would be super trippy where I could throw out a bunch of magic, and swirls,
    and glitter and all that fun stuff. I would be totally down with that. Dream Sequence, sign me up!

    We’ll be sure to forward that right along to Bobby (Curnow, IDW Editor for MLP).

    Totally. I’ve mentioned that a few times to him already. And he was like, ‘alight, but that’s very specific.’

    Well they’ve kind of had a few drew sequences in the book already, so…

    *laughs* I think it would just throw everybody for a loop! Which I guess would be fun. I’d be down for that. That’d be cool.

    Sara Richard Dream Sequence! MLP!

    That’d be great. Now aside from comic work, you’ve also worked on a few non pony projects that are completely outside the realm of comics. First one off the bat is, of course, your Eisner Award Nominated children’s book Kitty & Dino.


    For those of us who haven’t read the book about the unlikely friendship between a cat and a T-Rex, what can you tell us about it?

    Well, nobody gets eaten! *laughs*

    It’s been compared to like people who have a cat and a big dog. T-Rex is super friendly and I kind of
    modeled him after a Great Dane when I was illustrating it.

    It was a story that was already written by the editor at Yen Press, so that’s why her name isn’t on it,
    which I always want to clarify. I didn’t write the whole story. I figured out bits of the story to add on to the overall story, but the theme was already there.

    It’s an all-ages story. There are only really two word bubbles with actual speech in it. So I love hearing parents or children at heart adults reading the story and making up their own dialogue or adding to the story. Because it’s not concrete really, so kids can go off and add their own dialogue in.

    It’s a really flexible story in not having dialogue in it. I personally like stories like that. Where it’s action driven or not dialogue heavy.

    Nice! But it also isn’t the only project you’ve done. You’ve also done a board game!

    Yes! It’s called Sangoku. It’s based off the same material as Dragon Ball Z. So it’s like the Journey of the West legend.

    So how did you get involved with Sangoku?

    That one I went to PAX East a couple years ago and sat in on a game design panel. Went and talked to either the president or somebody from Game Salute. Gave him my card. Kept in contact, and they were like we have this game that would totally fit your style. So, yeah, talked to them some more over the internet, got to work on it, and Kickstarter was met.

    So it should be out soon. I will definitely make note of it on my sites when it comes out. But it will be out soon. Hopefully. *laughs* I finished the art for it and they told me it would be out soon. Alright that’s all I know.

    Well I definitely intend on buying it as soon as it’s out. So whenever soon is…

    Yes, yes! I will let everyone know! *evil laugh*

    Now, this past May you launched a new art project called HautePopC, where you go and create high fashion inspired cosplays of everything in popular culture. How did this idea come to you?

    *laughs* Well I used to cosplay a lot more than I get to right now. Me and my two best friends since
    high school are cosplay nuts. But since we have jobs and live in three different places now, it’s harder to get together and go to shows and cosplay. So we try to do one a year where we all go as a group.

    I’ve always loved it. And I love seeing cosplay at shows. I’ve always really liked fashion design. America’s Next top model is one of my super guilty pleasures. I just like fashion design. It kind of goes back to Erté, the Art Deco designer. He did a bunch of costume design. I’ve always just kind of been in awe. I really like fashion design. I can’t sow to save my life, but if I can draw it I feel like ‘Hey I made this dress’ and that maybe somebody who can sow can make it.

    But, I like character design as well. It’s kind of combining my wish I could make this costume, character
    design, and my love for pop culture. I would love to see them actually done. I think right now cosplay is
    kind of in this direction where it’s not just directly copying a character and making a costume. It’s
    becoming more like an interpretation of a character that’s becoming really popular.

    So, it’s cool. I don’t know. I guess I really wanted to give myself more work as well. *laughs* I’m a
    masochist like that, I guess. I don’t know. I guess I had this idea for a while.

    I guess it got started when me and one of my friends I cosplay with were gonna try to go to Dragon Con. And I was like ‘It would be cool if we did Pan’s Labyrinth, but if we did high fashion Pan’s Labyrinth!’ So, I guess that was the original idea. The original sort of design I wanted to do, which I’m finally did last week. I start this thing a few weeks ago and finally got to the Pan’s Labyrinth one.

    But yeah, every Sunday. I want to put it all into a book, which I hope to have by San Diego Comic Con. Yeah, I’m getting into this super fashiony kick right now. *laughs*

    Well there’s definitely more than enough talent in the Brony community. So if you want to see one of your pieces come to life, who knows. Maybe one of them will get inspired to make some of the designs you’ve done. I know the sets you’ve done for the Sailor Scouts are absolutely amazing to look at.


    Yeah, those are super Erté inspired! I definitely looked at his work for those. Especially with the
    execution of their faces. I tried to give them a super 1920’s look, with the Erté eyes, I guess!

    I just shipped those out to a Sailor Moon tribute show. Moon Crisis 2014 at the Rothick Art Haus in
    Anaheim. That’s going to be next month. It starts July 5th. So, those will be there. I will have limited
    prints of those there at that show only, and they will probably be the only prints I do of the designs for a while outside of the book that I’m going to do.

    I just love 1920’s style. The flapper kind of look, the super decorated beads, and dropped waist. The
    1920’s elegance is really nice to look at.

    Plus I always thought it would be cool to see different eras of favorite characters. This week I’m doing 1950’s rockabilly Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter. So that will be Sunday. I’m gonna try to sneak a Zangief in there if I can get him done in time. If not, he’ll be there next week. It’s going to be weird.

    It’s Zangief, he’s supposed to be weird.

    Yeah, but it’s going to be a chick.


    The chest hair I’ve managed to work into a very elegant sort of bikini top. *laughs* There’s no leg hair! It’s still weird though, so I had to stop somewhere. I have limits. Or do I? *laughs* I don’t know. It hasn’t been going that long, so I haven’t really decided where to draw the line yet.

    Well, when you do I’m sure we’ll all find out.

    Yeah, it’ll be interesting. *laughs*

    Well, Sara, I have to say you’ve led an incredible life here in New Hampshire. You were born here, in New Boston?

    No, not New Boston. I was born in Manchester!

    I’ve lived in New Hampshire for most of my life. Went to school in Columbus, Ohio. Then worked in
    Rhode Island for Hasbro. Then came back to New Hampshire.

    Thinking about moving to Portland, Oregan next.

    Portland, Organ? That’s one heck of a move.

    It is. It is. But I feel like I have to do it. I’m mostly kind of daring myself at this point to do it. So I want to see if I will.

    One last question before we go: Anything I didn’t cover that you want to talk about?

    Hmmm. Let me see. Well I was going to mention the fashion stuff, but we did already.

    I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con. I’m going to have a book of all the fashion stuff put together. And I’m
    working on a few new personal projects.

    So just follow my Facebook
    and Twitter (@SaraRichard). I’m on Instagram a lot too. And
    whenever I have a new announcement I’ll be sure to post it up there.

    Thank you for your time Sara. This was very enjoyable.

    Awesome. Thank you very much. Can we just mention my website?


    Yep, that will be good! That’s where I put all of my stuff. Thank you so much man, I appreciate it.

    You’re more than welcome Sara.

    Have a good one man!