Rick Pickett (Graphic Designer)
MI.net: Sometimes on the show, they show sketches. Have you done any of those?
Rick: Yeah, I actually....What have I done? Some student was supposed to be drawing flames with the whole detective thing, where Jonathan Taylor Thomas was in it, I did the flames on that. I've done some cartoons that people are supposedly drawing, when Veronica then interrupts them or something. My sketchbook was actually...you know the artist girl who disappears?
Rick: Well, her sketchbook that they show, those are actually pasted out of my sketchbook.
MI.net: Those are really nice.
Rick: Thank you. That was fun. I brought in all my sketchbooks, let Alfred look at them, and the art director pieced them together.
MI.net: And you do all the logos.
Rick: Yeah, pretty much anything that's shot on camera. Post-production stuff, stuff that will get greenscreen in, or titles and all those things, I don't have any hand in that. I have done a Channel News 5 logo I sent to the post-production so they can put it in on the screen. But that's as far as I've gotten on post-production.
MI.net: You also do the website stuff, like Prying Eyez and Neptune High.
Rick: Yup, I've done all that stuff. All the website stuff.
MI.net: So you have to do HTML coding too?
Rick: It depends on what is really needed because I can fudge a lot of stuff, which is nice. Because you know how difficult it could probably be to get your code looking right, and making it interactive, properly. I'm fortunate enough I can actually design the things in Flash. Design the graphical element, depending on what it is, in Illustrator or Photoshop, then import it all into Flash. And then I can do some action script coding so that the playback operator can just say, "Okay, I'll have it click here, click there."
But the change I made, originally they usually just have those things set up so that you click one button, or click a button off-screen, or someone is controlling the mouse while Veronica is pretending to control the mouse, and they just click the screen, or hit the spacebar each time they want it to move into action. But I decided I wanted to sell a little more realism in it, so I'm actually going to make that button, the button you have to click. So then Veronica can actually sit there, be filmed moving her cursor to the actual button, opening the actual page, and actually using the scroll-bar. Because everyone is Internet-savvy now. Or at least they know what looks real and what looks bogus. I don't want people to be like, [eye-rolling voice] "Man, look at that crappy graphic designer. Oh, geez." I try to take some pride in making it look real.
MI.net: So do you also come up with the names of the sites, the fake URLs?
Rick: Usually the writers will put something in, but then we have to take that in the art department and pass it through clearance, through Warner Brothers and their legal department. a) To check if anyone really has those things, existing copyright. And b) for decency. That's more CBS though. And sometimes if the original ones that the writers wrote is knocked out or sometimes I'll be like, "Eh, I'd like maybe to see if we could try this name." That rarely happens. We'll write it up. Like, Prying Eyez was mine. I came up with the logo and everything.
MI.net: Do you take any of the photos that appear on the show?
Rick: Most of those photos, Greg Edgar, he's with the prop department, he'll take the photos just because I don't have time. I've done some, but I let him do it because that's kind of his thing, and I don't want to step on his toes. "Take the photos, Greg. I'm fine with that." I've used actually a fair amount of my own personal artistic photos for sets or for pictures in the newspaper and whatnot. They get in there.
MI.net: What's some of the favorite things that you have snuck in? Like inside jokes and stuff.
Rick: I can't remember if it was Nick...I think I've pissed off Nick a lot. But he still seems to like me so that's good. It's another one of those rush things. [rushed voice] "Oh, crap. We need some diplomas on the back wall for this doctor. We need it now. Like they're shooting in ten minutes." "Okay, guys. Thanks, [mumbles under his breath] you jerk." And I'm sitting there going, "All right, I've got to put this together." And my brain is already racked because I just got pulled off of one topic that I'm trying to execute and complete one prop or whatnot, and now I'm sitting there having to get into this new world of "All right, diplomas. Vague, austere, and educational." So I'm sitting there....Can you hold on one second?
MI.net: Yeah. [waits as Rick answers another call.]
Rick: Sorry, that was my girlfriend. Yeah, so they had me have to do this one. I made already, I want to say, two diplomas. And they used this third one also. I was just running out out of ideas. Kinda down. Then one of the swing guys, who was the one who came up to relay the message, goes, "How about doctor of wizardry?" [both chuckle] "Brilliant! Doctor of wizardry it is." So we put it in there. Mounted it. Framed it. They took it down to the set. The director did a walkthrough of the set, and he's like, "What the hell is this?" [both chuckle] Oh, man, I got yelled at for that. Not really. It's just funny because whoever's anger gets directed at the people on the set, and never really gets back to me. In a way it's a good thing, but...but yeah.
I try to limit the sneaking stuff in just because I don't want to embarrass Rob or I don't want to embarrass anyone, so I try to keep it tasteful most of the time. And small enough where the only people who are really going to be seeing it, are people who are working in the production and not the actual viewers. You know, it comes and goes.
And what I've been trying to do more so, just towards the end of the last season, once I finally felt like I had a good foothold on what I was doing, is really try to put, not double entendres, but more symbolism into a logo or graphic that ties into the whole mystery of Veronica and the things that happen to her. I'm trying to think of an example to give you, but I can't come up with one. I just try to tie things together and not have it just stand out. But it can mean something else, something more to the close viewer.
Rick's e-mail a few days later: The name for the bottle of mineral water that Lianne drinks, I named it Ambrosia since she was actually still drinking alcohol. The other ones were most likely little ads that were used on the escort page.
[Editor's note: Dang, that's one prop that we didn't notice. Must read all food labels next season.]
MI.net: Have you had fan interaction?
Rick: With fans or whatnot?
MI.net: Well, like somebody said, "Oh, I saw that," or "That's a cool prop."
Rick: No one has really...because I don't search the forums or anything on Television Without Pity or anything. I just don't have time. I do my own personal art, so I like doing other things. But not really. The biggest kick I get out of people being complimentary or impressed with the stuff I do is from the people I work with. So when Rob sees something I've made, and he's really excited, or....The greatest thing is we just did a scene...I'm trying to edit out things. We had this scene and we had to produce this very large 8-by-8 print. And I had to stylize it, and I took a photo, and I did some effects so it looked like it was hand-painted or at least someone designed it. It's huge and it looked really cool. And I brought it on the set. And I found out that everyone was wanting it. Everyone wanted the picture.
And also the guy who played Bone, we had to do a picture, like an Andy Warhol-style photo. And he wanted it when we were done.
MI.net: That's cool. And speaking of props, for the Vinnie Van Lowe double gun logo, I guess you did that too.
Rick: [chuckles] Yeah.
MI.net: That one was really fun.
Rick: Thanks. We tried to make him seem...I wish, did you ever see the business card that he has?
MI.net: Well, we saw a matchbook. I don't know if we actually saw that.
Rick: The business cards are great. They're so cheesy and '80s. Fluorescent pink.
MI.net: Nope, it wasn't that. He has fluorescent pink?
Rick: Yeah, fluorescent pink, white and black, with a chick on his business card with the gun on it as well. It was so '80s-slimy-looking, I loved it. It was great.
MI.net: They should have showed that. Nope, that didn't make it to air.
[Correction from marks of love: THE BUSINESS CARD WAS TOTALLY ON THE AIR, and marks of love, design nerd who HAS BEEN COLLECTING BUSINESS CARDS FOR OVER TEN YEARS, was practically wetting herself over the prospect of interviewing the man behind the Vinnie card, and then wyk totally told him it didn't make it to air! But omg. *headdesk times a million*]
Rick: Yeah, there have been a couple of things like that that I've been really attached to. Or the camera doesn't stay on it very long. But, you know what, the bottom line is that I get paid.
MI.net: Did you come up with the fake movie posters for Imminent Disaster or Aaron's movies?
Rick: No, I did the magazine covers. There's a Forbes, there's a Hollywood Life, and Variety. I did those. But the movie posters, those are all done by this company called iComm. And they basically have this huge library of all these different mocked-up, fake posters in files that they can just drop in a picture, drop in a new name, a character's name, and, boom, print it. So it's actually much cheaper to go with them than to have me spend all that time designing each and every poster.
But actually there's a poster, and not to give away any hints, there's another movie that Aaron stars in. And we're going to see that down the road, but that one was hand-painted, because it's an older one. I got to design the layout, and we're having our lead scenic artist paint it this weekend, actually. So I'll get it on Monday morning and see how it looks.
MI.net: So do you guys work six or seven days a week?
Rick: If it calls for it, we have to because you got to do it if you got to do it. And obviously, the money people are never happy about hearing that they have to pay double overtime for a weekend, but that's the name of the game if you want to produce a viable product.
MI.net: There was a background picture in the guitar shop of some the guitarist...
Rick: Oh, the guitarist metal-looking dude?
MI.net: Yeah. Did you do that?
Rick: No, I'm trying to think of who actually painted that. Alfred's friend Tom, he did the mural in the Neptune police station, the sheriff's department. He actually painted that based on a famous artist who was was very famous for those '80s heavy metal looks. No, I let him do that. He could bust out...that's the one thing, I can't do paintings. Not a painter. That was a great poster. I think the guitar shop really wanted it when we were done with it.
MI.net: Do they give that stuff away? You mentioned that the actor who played Bone wanted that.
Rick: Well, theoretically nothing should be given out because Warner Bothers has this huge museum basically of every prop from shows. But sometimes you have to give stuff away to either lock in, or secure a set, to garner a prop. There's constantly these little deals and bargains and stuff going on between the heads of that department and this. It's always a tit-for-tat. "What are you going to give me so that I can give you what you want?" "Okay, I really like that. I want that." "Okay, well, let me ask. Yeah, we can give it to you." "Cool." That type of thing. We try not to, and if we do give it away, it's usually if we have doubles of it already.