All of the best artwork is accidental. It happens when the artist works through his self control and goes beyond, into the realm of the unexpected and the unknown. That’s when the great stuff happens.
- Rick Griffin
Surfing, cartoons, music, humor, mysticism and Jesus
I met Rick at Chouinard Art School in September of 1964. He was twenty years old and I was nineteen. We both loved comic books, the ocean and going to record shops. While attending school, we often went to see bands play in Hollywood. We even went to see the Rolling Stones play at a teen concert and Rick got to meet the band backstage. At that time, folk music was popular, with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez playing on the radio. Rick had a great record collection of surf music. He played records while drawing.
Rick was born in Los Angeles, California, June 18, 1944. He grew up in the 1950’s, reading and collecting comic books and watching Disney animation. His parents, and older brother, would travel on long distance trips through the South West to visit Native American Reservations and old Ghost Towns for vacations. Rick loved eating at Mexican food restaurants on the way and enjoying his comic books while traveling.
In his early teen years, Rick learned how to surf on the Pacific Coast of Southern California. He started drawing a cartoon surfer learning how to surf that he called “Murphy.” He was introduced to Greg Noll, a local surfboard shaper, who hired Rick to make posters for his surf shop. Then later, he met John Severson who produced “Surfer” magazine and published Rick’s “Murphy” comic strips.
After art school, Rick and I moved to San Francisco. Our next door neighbors, Mouse and Kelly, were designing dance posters for the Family Dog Dances at an old ballroom in San Francisco. Rick started designing posters, too. The posters were stapled up on telephone poles on Haight Street. The dances were fun. We saw many bands, Cream, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, B.B. King and many others. Live music, designing posters and album covers was the best.
Rick’s love of surfing, cartoons, music, humor, mysticism and Jesus crossed over and blended throughout his art career. We’ve shown some of his work from each of his greatest influences, but there are many more pieces to see and discover. Enjoy!
Peace and Love, Ida Griffin