‘Accidental Artist’ to speak at the Kimball | ParkRecord.com

‘Accidental Artist’ to speak at the Kimball

Art can emerge from virtually anything a sleek metal rod, a drop of paint on a canvas or from simple scribbles used to illustrate financial concepts.

The latter will be focus of the Kimball Art Center’s May Art Talk, which will be held Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m.

Park City resident Carl Richards, who writes and draws sketches for a weekly essay called "Your Money" for the New York Times, will give the presentation.

While he has been writing the piece for more than a year and a half, Richards is still amazed his sketches are considered art.

"The drawings were responses to the need to explain some complex issues," Richards told The Park Record. "Professionally, I run a wealth management firm and in meetings I would try to explain some financial concept and found that it always worked better when I drew out a graphic."

Richards, who has no art background, aside from a pottery class at the Kimball Art Center in 1978, said he always uses paper or a whiteboard when meeting with his clients..

"In 1999 or 2000, I drew something on the board that I call a ‘behavior gap sketch,’" he said.

Comprised of two blocks and an arrow, the illustration showed the result of a mature mutual fund after 10 years, Richards said.

"If people held on to it, they would get a certain amount of returns, but people don’t do that," he said. "They sell it and chase the trendy fund of the day, so what ends up happening is their investments yield less, and the return gap between the original mutual fund and the trendy fund is what we called the ‘behavior gap.’

"I drew this illustration probably a hundred times, and then one client asked me to draw it for him on a piece of paper, so he could show his spouse," Richards said. "Then another client asked me to scan one for him, and once it was scanned, I thought, we have a way to spread this around on the web and start a blog."

The payoff came when the New York Times called and asked Richards for an essay and a sketch.

"After that, they asked if I would do something once a week," he said. "It was funny because one day I submitted something without the sketch and they asked where it was. That’s when I found how valuable the sketch was."

Throughout the past 18 months, clients and art galleries have approached Richards to produce more sketches.

"I had an advisor asked me to print a sketch and sign it," he said. "I said, ‘I’m not going to sign it.’ And he said, ‘I’ll give you $5 for an unsigned one and $50 for a signed one.’

So I signed one."

Richards then began printing the sketches began selling them, he said.

"Then the Parsons School of Design called and asked me to submit some of the pieces for the exhibition," he said with a laugh. "I replied and said, ‘You’ve got the wrong guy. I don’t know what ‘pieces’ are.’

"After they explained what they meant, I now have three pieces in their 5th Avenue Gallery and have since led a workshop for them.

"I’m what anyone would call an accidental artist," he said.

The Kimball Art Center caught up with Richards through their communications director Irene Cho.

"I follow the New York Times and was intrigued by his newsletter," Cho said. "We were impressed by the fact that he lived in Park City, and it was amazing than no one honed in on that. That’s when we got our wheels turning and asked him to do our Art Talk."

"It’s like I’ve come full circle," Richards said. "I lived in Park City when I was younger and have lived in Las Vegas for the past few years. Now I’m back in Park City and doing a presentation at the Kimball Art Center.’

The Kimball Art Center Art Talk, "Visualizing Finance with Carl Richards: The Story of an Accidental Artist," will take place Thursday, May 19, at the center, 638 Park Ave., at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

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