Rick Griffin was an American artist and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s.
His father was an engineer and amateur archaeologist, and as a boy Rick accompanied him on digs in the Southwest. It was during this time that Rick was exposed to the Native American and ghost town artifacts that were to influence his later work. As a contributor to the underground comix movement, his work appeared regularly in Zap Comix.
Although at the vanguard of the psychedelic art movement Rick still produced comic art true to his roots. His work can be found in Zap, Snatch and Tales From The Tube.
When Rick moved back to Southern California in 1969 and settled, eventually, in San Clemente, John Severson asked him to design a poster for his latest film Pacific Vibrations, and to appear in it. Months later Severson was presented with a masterwork. Rick and Ida's daughter Adelia was born whilst Rick was working on the piece and both mother and unborn child are featured in the poster. Rick did more work for Surfer and also found time to create the Man From Utopia comics.
In the 70's Rick became a Christian and his work took a radical change of direction. He produced the Illustrated Book of Saint John and later created work for the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. The Chapel was affiliated with Maranatha! Music and hired Rick as art director to produce album covers, posters and flyers for the growing Christian music scene.
In the 1980's Rick's work included a logo and cover art for English rockers The Cult, notably "Soldier Blue", designed in '87 for an aborted single release and not to see the light of day until it was used as a template for "Rare Cult" thirteen years later. Still as striking as ever, it brought Rick to the attention of a different generation on another part of the planet, the author included. As a perfectionist Rick put 110% into every piece he produced no matter how large or how small, but he was never a businessman and according to daughter Flaven never considered that people would try to rip him off. Murphy's last appearance was in 1987 pouring over druid runes, suggesting perhaps, that the artist was re-evaluating his life once more. At this time Rick was surfing in the cold water at Mystos, north of San Francisco.
At noon on 15th August 1991 Rick phoned Robert Beerbohm's gallery from a grocery store payphone, to hear that a painting had just sold for $1800. On his way back to his house on Stadler Lane in Petaluma, Rick's Harley Heritage Softail was forced off the road by a van he was attempting to pass. Rick died three days later from his injuries.
His loss cannot be over-estimated, a true visionary and outstanding talent, he enhanced our lives in so many ways.
Rick Griffin's last published work was printed in the San Francisco magazine, The City, shortly before his death; a self portrait of the man at Heaven's Gate, pen and ink in hand.