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About the Artist

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My Circuitous Art Career

It's funny how something as simple as a pencil can change your life. People often ask how I ended up being a pencil artist. Well, to be honest, I think it was one of those things that was always going to happen, it was just a matter of when. I grew up in the era of "art is nice but not really that important" in our public schools. I had a single drafting class in High School but never anything close to art-related. We were all encouraged to focus on the important things like math and science. Both (well okay, one of these) are critical to my art now, but were simply never going to become a profession for me. I never realized how important it was to have a creative outlet.

I sort of stumbled into a job as a graphic artist during college that exposed me to the world of scientific illustration. I met a wonderful illustrator named Frank McAvinchey (I hope you read this some day, Frank) who taught me how to draw archaeological artifacts with Rapidograph pens. Talk about an eye-opener! I truly believe that rapidograph pens are the ultimate tool for type-A personalities. Every stroke was final, permanent -- every detail exact. As you might expect, this was my first introduction to the world of realism.

I went off to find "Real Jobs" after college including two Fortune 25 companies. Well-paying, challenging, left-brain kind of work and... you guessed it... never to be... I finally reached a point where the corporate pressures left me feeling drained and empty -- kind of like a dried up rapidograph pen. Fortunately, a move to Montana changed my mindset.

I suddenly felt like I could focus on the things that had inspired me as a child. Yellowstone National Park, the northern Rocky Mountains, and wildlife aplenty. I suddenly felt like I was bursting with excitement that I needed to share with others. It was during this period that I rediscovered some drawing books that lit the pilot light again. The explosion of creative energy was staggering.

I have to thank my Mom and Dad for providing me a childhood filled with intellectual challenges. They instilled in me the desire to learn and that is the greatest gift parents can give a child. My wife deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for allowing me to explore my flights of fancy. I've dragged her to Lexington, Kentucky for graduate school, back to Cincinnati, Ohio, and finally out to Montana, away from friends and family. We've settled into a new phase of our life now and she has taken this all with a calm and patience that I could only dream of possessing. Without her, I would be half a person.


My dad introduced me to photography during our first trips around the 48 contiguous states in the early 1980's. I still remember his old Minolta SLR and the vinyl camera case that traveled with us everywhere. He even allowed me to shoot a few frames along the way -- "Careful... make sure to always wear the camera strap."

I started shooting seriously in the early 1990's after I could afford my own camera. I took mostly vacation shots and then started becoming interested in animals at the Cincinnati Zoo. Things changed completely once my wife and I started vacationing in Yellowstone in 2001.

I have tried to share my love of photography along with my love of drawing through workshops and tutoring. It's a great way of helping others improve their success with their photography just like my dad did with me. I have to catch myself from reminding them "Careful... make sure to always wear the camera strap."

Where's Rich?

I live in Missoula, Montana where I am inspired each day by the wonderful people and city in which I now live.

Last Update: March 20, 2010

Copyright © Rich Adams 2005
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Rich Adams
Photo by Cindy Svoboda ©