“ZERO FUCKS GIVEN.” That’s not just a rad VNM slogan when applied to Richard Minino (aka: Horsebites), it’s the way he moves through life. From bashing his way through punk bands as a kid, to being the co-founder of two awesome companies, Richard’s heart has always been tied up in truth. He’s not out there busting his ass to impress, or to take your cash. For Richard it’s all about crossing the line which previously defined him.
To keep pushing. To discover. To not give two fucks about success if it means losing your voice along the way.
Each line on the page throbs with life. Together they perform like the motor of an old bike that’s full of quirks, nuance, and distinctiveness. The edge of each nut and bolt rounded ever so slightly after many years of life. His work shares a similar worn and weathered quality, which he achieves through an amazing balance of restrained detail and character of line. If you’re the type of person who usually just takes something in as a whole, I really encourage you to spend some extra time looking over Richard’s work. Just pick any piece in this interview, zero in on a random spot, and start working out from there. Check out his approach to line weight, texture, and his use of light and shadow. There’s personality spilling out all over the damn place.
But before we go any further, let’s knock the snow off our boots, toss those coats in the corner, and pack some coolers full of beer. We’re gonna kick this new year off right by heading south to sunny Florida, and meet with the man himself, Richard “Horsebites” Minino!
Hey Richard! First off, it’s my understanding that you grew up in Orlando, Florida? What was it like living every kids dream by residing that close to Walt Disney World?
It was actually really awesome living under the shadow of the mouse. I didn’t realize until later how inspiring it was for me to go there often and be obsessed with Disney classics like Pinocchio and Snow White. I would draw the evil witch all the time. I loved how much time and attention to detail those movies were and just going to the park and seeing hand painted garbage cans blew my mind. It was a major influence.
When most folks hear the name Walt Disney, they think of the corporation, and not the man who bares it’s name. I’ve heard Walt had a big impact on you, as he’s had with me too. Did the impression he made come from an artistic perspective, or was it his work ethic?
It’s actually both. He’s not that great of an illustrator, but he pushed himself really hard and made shit happen. From what I’ve read there’s a bunch of mixed emotions from old employees and illustrators that really made his movies great. They either say he was a total racist asshole and didn’t care about anybody, or he was a saint and always looked out for his crew. Either way the dude hustled, and now he’s a popsicle in hopes of coming back in the future to build some more shit in my backyard. His characters are iconic and will forever inspire me to draw more and hustle.
I was a freak about Jon Pound (Garbage Pail Kids), Pushead, and probably most importantly Jim Phillips, who drew a ton of the the Santa Cruz decks. That dude made me go crazy in elementary school. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but there was no doubt his art made the biggest impact on me. I almost couldn’t wrap my head around how awesome the screaming hand was. I’m still highly influenced by him, and would love to meet him one day or even own an original piece of art. Then I can die.
Most people in the scene know you from your work with VNM, a brand that you’re a co-owner of. Can you tell me about it’s inception and how you got it off the ground?
Well it actually all started because we (design group The Black Axe) did a bunch of designs for other clothing brands, and one of the brands was starting up a distributing company and asked if we wanted to start one up with their help. It was actually our plan to do one eventually anyways but maybe a couple years down the road. Yardley and I both do VNM, he is mostly the brains behind it with most of the slogans and graphic work and I mostly do the illustrations, helmets, and some other stuff. So Yardley and I thought this was a really good opportunity and took them up on their offer – obviously it started out really slow since nobody knew who we were yet, so the distributing company sort of lost interest and we were on our own. It was actually great because even though they helped us get our first few shirts printed, we had a lot of issues and not good quality control, so that stopped really close to the beginning and we just started playing by our own rules and it felt great. We didn’t care who we offended and wanted to just make junk we wanted to wear. Like minded people started getting it and realizing we weren’t’ putting stuff out to make a bunch of money or impress everyone, and I think it struck a chord with them. We’re still having a blast and pushing boundaries with it.
You mentioned the design group The Black Axe, which in addition to VNM, you’re also a co-owner of. Your client list is seriously impressive, but I’ve got to know (’cause I’ve been a fan-boy since age 9): what was it like working with KISS? Did you get to meet any of the guys, or try on their boots?
Ha! Yeah The Black Axe was basically formed because we knew we had a pocket of talent and decided to pool it together to make a design machine. Eventually we got to do bigger and bigger jobs. When I finally got approached to do a KISS design I was floored. Here’s the crappy part though: those big bands don’t really care who is doing their stuff. They have a team of people wrangling in designers to put out the best design, so unless it’s a band I really want to work for, I usually turn it down. They’re like their own corporation and will make anything for a quick sale. The cool thing about it is I finally got to show my parents something I did that they knew was on a big scale and they were stoked. I mean who doesn’t know who KISS is?!? I wish so bad I had some contact with them but unfortunately I’m just a small gear in their machine. The weirdest part about working for KISS was that one time I decided to do just Gene’s face huge on a shirt (which they loved), they said “Ok, if you’re going to do Gene’s face, then you have to do Paul’s face in the exact same size for another shirt.” I asked why and they said because they have a contract between them that if their likeness is going to be on merch, than one can’t be bigger than the other, and one can’t be favored over the other. That’s when I knew I wasn’t just designing but I was dealing with some insane egos.
Yes, I have great advice for them. If you’re looking to make money please stop and go back to delivering pizzas ’cause it’s most likely not going to happen, unless you really bust your ass and have great ideas. You can be great at drawing but if you’re drawing shit with no ideas behind it, than it’s probably not gonna work. There’s so much competition out there but only the few real ones stick out. The only reason I sort of have a negative outlook on it is because people have some serious unrealistic expectations. They just see the outer surface of a clothing brand making cool shit and they want to be successful without putting in the work, and they’ll rip off other peoples ideas and their style. So all that being said, if you really want to start up something than be real about it. It’s all about being off the wall and original at the same time. We can sort of pull it off because it’s just fun for us. We don’t make any real money from it and just keep pushing ’cause it keeps us sane.
By the way, those Biltwell helmets you’ve painted are sick! Wouldn’t it be awesome if I pulled you from a burning car wreck and in return you painted me up one of those lids? Haha! Seriously though, when did your passion with bikes begin? Were they something you grew up around, or did your interest kick in later in life?
Thanks! Those are a blast to do. If I happen to get stuck in a burning car I’ll page you… I actually fell in love with bikes when my neighbor got a 50cc pit bike and we would rip around the neighborhood. I used to think going 30mph was the fastest you could possibly go on a motorcycle. My dad would never get me a bike though, I think mainly because he would tell me his good buddy was killed in a motorcycle wreck in Chile when he was younger. It honestly did scare me because when your dad tells you something at a young age you just take it as gospel, and as something that will definitely happen. So about 6 years ago I said fuck it and got a perfectly stock ’71 CB350 and I loved it. Ever since then I was hooked. Since then I’ve owned a few bikes but now my prize possession is a 1950 Triumph chopper. It makes my head spin working on it but it’s great and good to learn new shit that makes you uncomfortable.
Your wrap-around cover for Show Class Magazine’s sixteenth issue is without a doubt one of my favorite covers to date. How did your collaboration with them come about?
I was super honored when they asked me to do that for them. They actually asked me a while ago, and I didn’t really slack, but I was totally stuck on ideas because I felt like it was my chance to do something really rad. So months go by and Tim from SC reminded me again that they’re still interested in having me do something and I said fuck it! I’m just gonna do some gnarly shit and not over think it. So that’s what came out and I couldn’t be happier. I’m glad I waited and cleared my head instead of trying to force out something. I’d love to keep working for them because it’s a real treat when you respect the people you do jobs for. Makes it so worthwhile and it doesn’t feel like actual work.
I see a ton of new artists everyday that inspire me, but some dudes that get me stoked are Florian Bertmer, Johnny Crap, Phil Guy, Tallboy, Burney, and probably some others that I’m forgetting right now. When I see their work I just sit back and enjoy it while telling myself I need to catch up and not get left in the dust.
As far as VNM goes we have a lot of stuff coming that I’ve got a boner for. We just released skate decks but they sold out so quick we could barely hold them. We’re gonna put out a few more of those along with new rings, hats, beanies, hoodies, shirts, pins, and some other stuff that is too dumb to mention. I would like to put out some art prints through VNM too now that we’re a little bit more established. Oh, and one more thing: we have a crazy SJC custom snare drum shaped like a beer can that we’re giving away in the beginning of the new year.
Since it’s often very insightful, I end every interview with this question: If you could travel through time, where would you go?
That’s a good question. I would probably go back to 1955 with a Sports Almanac in hopes of gambling my way up to fame and fortune so I can eventually own a Casino/Hotel and just be a dick to everyone.
Haha! Richard, it’s been a real pleasure, man! You’ve been one helluva a killer dude from the first moment I reached out to you for this interview, and I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me here on Doom Cycle. Your work ethic and enthusiasm is inspiring, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the site in 2014 than with this piece right here. Have a great New Year, Richard, and please give my best to Yardley!