5 Mins, Illustration 3 years ago

Ricardo Bessa on work life balance, graphic novels, and living in London.

Portuguese born Ricardo Bessa is an illustrator who has an illustration style perfect for telling stories.

Producing creative work that is totally adaptable is hard. Especially if the creative work your produce is so specific to Graphic Novels. That’s why when someone like Ricardo Bessa comes along and produces work that not only attracts zines like Ladies of LiteratureHeróica, and Delta. But also The Telegraph, italian restaurant chain Zizzi and Oxford University Press it’s worth taking note.

We spoke to Ricardo about his work on Graphic Novels and more, here’s what he said…

Could you give us 3 tips that you’d say have got you to where you are today.

1 – Produce work. Strive to make yourself a better artist.

2 – Show your work. Post on social media. Be genuine and be human – people would much rather be able to interact with your as a human than have a rarely updated feed with just images of your work. Participate in group projects, shows and anthologies, interact with your peers, make friends. People have to know you exist before in order to hire you.

3 – Keep doing 1 and 2. Be persistent and learn to hear “no”. Do not give up at the first sign of rejection, but be self-aware enough to know when to try other things, and to know your faults and your strengths.


Ricardo for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers official Graphic Novel

Why did you feel Illustration and Graphic Novels are best suited to you as an art forms? What excites you about them?

I quite like the idea of working to someone else’s brief.

I like taking someone else’s thoughts (whether it be an article, a whole book, a brief) and creating something that complements it.


Ricardo Bessa Total Jobs LGBTQ History Month

Give us an idea of your average day, how you work and how do you get your creative ideas done?

It really varies depending on how busy I am – I could be working from 9 am to 2 am with just meal breaks if I’m on a tight deadline, or I could be taking it really easy if I’m working with a fairly relaxed schedule (specially if I’m recovering from said deadline). I try to keep a healthy work/life balance and leave the evenings free to relax, but sometimes it can be difficult make myself draw in the morning – I grew up mostly drawing well into the night. I’ve been getting much better at it the past year or so, though. I also work from home, so I generally try to make myself leave the house and get a coffee and run errands after lunch.


Ricardo Bessa unused cover for Bee and Puppycat


Ricardo Bessa for Messieurs des Fruits

How do you attract new work?

I’m lucky, as these days I mostly get work from recurring past clients and also work via my agent, so I don’t have to do much to keep it coming.

But keeping your social media updated and emailing people you’d like to work for is never a bad idea.

Can you talk us through the process of how you get inspiration and how you form new ideas?

Sometimes inspiration strikes at the most random times and that’s great. But as a professional illustration, you can’t wait for that to happen. Inspiration is more about discipline than anything else. Sometimes you just have to produce the work, and in those cases, research, brainstorming and leaving the house helps a lot.

How long have you been an Illustrator and would you say it’s your career?

It is, for now. I’ve been fully freelance for 3 or 4 years, but I was interested and trying to participate in the community for a while before then.


Ricardo Bessa for Game of Thrones


Ricardo Bessa – Hot Buns, for Burl & Fur

What’s the best advice would you give to someone starting out?

Be interested and make yourself seen.

Participate in the community – you’ll get to know peers, you’ll make friends, and it will be a source of information and resources.

The internet makes everything a lot more accessible than it used to be – take advantage of that.

What’s the one thing that really inspires you? And why?

Surrounding myself with other artists. It’s amazing how they can inspire you and keep you on your toes.


Check out Ricardo Bessa's Graphic Novels & other work on his site.



I'm co-founder of Crazy Animal Face, host of the CAF Podcast, and compere of our CAF events. My views are my own.

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