Rick Caughman
A 25 year Retrospective
From my personal studio work to the advertising designs, illustration and photography, I continue looking at every challenge to see how creative I can be and approach the work with all my conceptual and artistic might, embracing any medium, audience and level of communication.
From the fall of 1982,
Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it through college.  While I loved being a student at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, the experience was not without it’s challenges.  Coming form a blue-collar town in upstate New York there were some cultural and financial hurdles to get over.  It was my father Bob E. Caughman who discovered Art Center and with my mom Irma, supported me through this life-changing experience.
Soon after graduating, my father passed away after a long battle with cancer.  This event changed my thinking and my plans for the future.  With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in advertising illustration, I was trained to work within a broad spectrum of the communication arts field.  I was provided many different opportunities early on, and learned to apply my skills many ways.  This might explain why the art you see today looks a bit disjointed.  I think that through the years I have developed more of a “look” than a style.
The first years 1983-88
The one thing I never thought I would be is an art instructor.  Well, 25 years, three colleges and 16 class sections later —I have loved it since my very first class.  My teaching experience has covered numerous years at Loma Linda University, The University of California at Riverside and a 25 year privilege at Chaffey College in Alta Loma since the Spring of 1983, and I have been on their adjunct faculty roster ever since.  The courses I have taught range from studio drawing, painting and communication arts through contemporary and digital media.
My first job out of college I must confess, was a job I did for a friend of mine Chas Seward.  It was for a cover of a race Kart magazine he published at the time.  He probably didn’t know that at the time and after he reads this he’ll probably give me an earful.  Oh well.  It’s in the big book on display along with many other samples of my work produced through the years.
I am proud to say that my very first and longest standing client is LA/Ontario International Airport.  25 years ago I met Dennis Watson who helped launched this long-standing relationship as well as my career.  My first project was to produce ONT’s first illustrated color poster.  It’s almost an antique.  There is more I’ll need to say later in this narrative.  
My first exposure to realm of advertising Illustration and graphic design came form my association with a very nice man, Jim Bryant.  We formed a little business called Gymmaric (he came up with the name).  Jim, formerly a copywriter and account executive for Dorremus West Advertising showed me with one job the monetary value of commercial art.  That really opened my eyes.  Jim went on to serve as the public relations officer for The San Bernardino County Sheriffs Dept. and retire successfully.  
With my teaching career well on it’s way, I went on to find illustration work from local book and magazine publishers as well as pursue advertising and promotional projects directly with business owners and agency professionals.  For a short while I produced Illustrations for Today’s Parent Magazine published by a young Peter Weinberger.
Early on I learned about graphic art and print production from seasoned professional Ken Lemon of Kengraphics Printing. Through his mentoring, I was able to learn how to be more innovative and creative with my layouts and design work.  Soon I was producing more and more posters, brochures, logos, stationary etc. while always learning something new.
I have spent a few of my early years producing illustrations for Claremont book publisher Hunter House.  Owner Kiran Rana provided me with numerous book cover challenges including one about the frequent returning of Haley’s Comet named “Tales of the Comet”.  Cover art and art for all it’s chapter headings was also produced.  The most significant part of this connection is that it is where I met my wife Jennifer.
As I became more familiar with graphic design and the graphic production process, the more I found myself working for better paying jobs.  I then decided that in order to get more interesting and better paying projects, I needed to expand my offerings.  So when my brother Bruce decided to make a career change and join me in business after completing a major in advertising sales & marketing from the Ad Center in Los Angeles, we created an advertising agency L.R. Caughman and Caughman, Inc.  There were some great times and some regretful times as well.  But, all in all I have benefited tremendously from that experience.  
At its’ Zenith, the company had 15 employees operating out of two buildings and clients representing all aspects of commerce.  Though there were many clients we worked closely with, the early ones are the ones I have the strongest feelings for.  After a great push from Ontario Airport, a gentleman by the name Fling A. Traylor came to our little shop in my moms garage in Claremont and said, “if you can be fair to me, I will be fair to you” ………fewer people have ever been truer to their word.  There were many advertising adventures with all of the businesses he acquired. Fling loved to try new things and we got very creative in our marketing concepts. I benefited tremendously through these experiences.  In fact, he was solely responsible for pushing me into the digital age.  Fling retired to develop a vineyard and winery in Paso Robles, California creating the San Marcos Creek brand of Italian variety wines, oh and buy a television station and god knows what else by now.  
Another early highlight for me came with the introduction of a project presented by Joe Hotchak.  It was the creation and branding of a line of vitamins.  The focus of it’s marketing was to be a fully illustrated adventure catalog.  I was able to enlist the help from my fellow colleagues Steve Huston, Joel Nakamura and watercolorist and fellow art professor Martha Underwood.   Because of this list of talented contributors, the project was deemed finalist at The International Advertising Festival in New York City conceding to winner Time Life Magazine.  The experience I gained during this time in my life is immeasurable.  
It was now time to reinvent myself and put more focus on my home life with my wife Jennifer and our plans for our future.  We moved to Ontario were we bought a small house next to an old carriage house.  We then bought and kept the “barn”, sold the little house and moved to the very nice historic neighborhood  “College Park” where we are now raising two beautiful children, Tim and Emily.   The “barn” was to be my dream studio, and eventually that is what it became (another long story).
In the middle of this technological revolution I became acquainted with Doug Haines, a printing professor and president of a printing and graphic artist association.  His expertise and industry connections helped keep me informed on the latest in graphic arts technology during a time of amazing advancements.  Together we had produced several custom posters designed, printed and distributed by the thousands promoting literacy through a variety of sports themes directed towards kids across the country.
With the aid of digital technology, I became very aware of my training and experience and thus realized that I could assume the roles of nearly all of the people that used to hold positions in my previous firm.  I became an army of one.
Fast forward a few years now, I successfully converted the old barn (a local historic resource formally know as “The Carriage House”) into a wonderful residence/working studio.  This success came from the design work of local and legendary architect Fred Mc Dowell, the positive direction of the City of Ontario and the patience of my supportive wife.  
A few industries I developed expertise from my early ad agency days were food, transit, institutions and manufacturing.  I continue to work in all of these areas even today.  In the food industry, I have been hired by numerous food producers but have been most fortunate to work with the following two food producers, F&A Cheese Corporation and Soup Bases Loaded.  My work with these two allowed me to work creatively in all areas of advertising, design, marketing, brand development and packaging.  A special highlight is producing an annual illustrated Christmas greeting placed in a national publication followed by a printed version mailed to each of F&A Cheeses Corporations clients, on behalf of the Frank Terranova Family.
Another one of my recent career highlights comes from six and a half years of creating marketing communications and advertising campaigns for the local transit agency Omnitrans.  Working with Omnitrans marketing director Wendy Williams and colleague Oscar Edwards of Visionary Marketing, I enjoyed the numerous projects we successfully executed.
Adding yet another dimension to my work I have designed and illustrated several logos and book covers for The California Institute of Public Affairs and the World Conservation Union.  I continue to enjoy these projects and working with my father-in-law Ted Trzyna.
Currently, I am finishing up perhaps my most notable accomplishment.  Working with Public Affairs and Community Relations Director Maria Tesoro Fermin of LA/Ontario International Airport, the Airport Maintenance Department and Clear Channel Outdoor, I have been given the dream job of creating artwork to fill the entire International Arrivals Terminal an ONT.  Designed to be welcoming, sixteen wallscapes can be seen in public spaces throughout the terminal.  Illustrations were created for each location depicting everything from the early days of Ontario Airport aviation through the spirit of international travel.  
The past few years have allowed me to pursue some personal and creative growth artistically.  With the advent of a well-organized and designed professional drawing workshop, my friend and fellow Art Center Alum, Bob Kato’s Drawing Club has allowed me to expand my illustrative vocabulary immensely.  
Adding another facet to my artistic career, I was inspired by a dear friend the late Joanie Weldon who encouraged me to have an annual show of my drawings at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona.  With two successful years behind me, I am now looking forward to my third annual show the second Saturday of January, 2008.   I will miss Joanie’s support.
Although the past twenty five years seems to have passed by very quickly, I feel I have been very fortunate to have had the flexibility of my time, the luxury of a great working studio, the opportunity to share my experiences with my students and the love and support of my family and friends.  
    Rick Caughman    •  U.S.  (909) 988-5670  •   email: art@5thalley.com