RICK SHARP BIOGRAPHY
Rick Sharp is a self-taught artist who grew up in Houston, Texas. Before graduating high school, Rick won a statewide art scholarship and was voted "Most Talented" by his Westbury High Senior Class. The scholarship award enabled the artist to get a foothold in California, and after a short stint at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Sharp's art career began to blossom. At age 19, now embedded in California's surf culture of the 70's, Rick won two separate national poster contests sponsored by Seventeen Magazine and Baskin Robbins. By the age of 23, Sharp's pen and ink drawings appeared in organic food stores, college dormitories, magazine ads and homes throughout Southern California. For over a decade, working out of Santa Barbara, Rick produced posters, calendars and tee shirt designs in his own 60's-influenced fairytale-book style art.
Rick Sharp Poster Book
During his twenties, Sharp created concert posters for touring musicians such as Donovan, Leon Russell, Melissa Manchester, Paul Winter, Andrea Crouch (Gospel Grammy winner), Barry Mcguire (Eve of Destruction), Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary) and Arlo Guthrie."That concert poster is my favorite," says Arlo, "I still have it hangin' in my livin' room". Sharp's work eventually found international distribution through Hang Ten Sportswear, record and poster companies. The artist reflects, "though it seemed like a long run...it was really only a concentrated decade that my poster work was used commercially so much. Now I see it as the "art of my youth.". Rick's early success was hallmarked by two poster books, two now-historic Santa Barbara Fiesta Posters and an original poster painting signed and inscribed by then President Ronald Reagan.
Fiesta Poster Acrylic/Ink/Colored Pencil on Board
By the late 1980s, Rick sensed that the Disneyesque-style look, on which he had forged his success, was out of vogue in California, so he moved to Hawaii where he continued to develop his painting and drawing. "By the time I got to Hawaii, " says Sharp, "my early work had played itself out and it was time to start anew. The art of my youth," as he now calls it, provided him a stable income and the opportunity to hone his talents before succumbing to the lure of the Islands.
Hawaii became the perfect setting for his new richly colored seascapes. "I painted freely with pastels first, then big brushes and palette knives using bright complimentary colors," says the artist, "probably a reaction from all the tedious penmanship I used in the past. Now, for my seascape scenes, I paint on large canvases using big brushes." Like Paul Gauguin, who found inspiration in the tropics, Sharp revitalized the use of vibrant color and bold design. "It took longer than I thought it would," says Sharp," but in 1996 several of my paintings were published and distributed by Pacifica Island Art throughout the Hawaiian Islands. It felt good to have my work out there again." Today, relaxing into more subtle color themes, Rick's tropical seascapes and vintage-style surf art are reminiscent of his early poster work. If you walk through the gift shops of Hawaii, you have more than likely either seen or bought Rick Sharp’s “vintage” art. His vibrant images of paradise – recalling travel posters of the 30’s and 40’s – are virtually everywhere: on candles, placemats, coffee mugs, calendars, tote bags, shot glasses, photo albums and more…all beautifully produced by Island Heritage.
Yellow Canoe 36"x 60" Acrylic on Linen © 2003 Mike Lindley Collection
Partial List of Art Credits:
The Artist in his 1970's Montecito art studio
Earth Song Ink / gouache / pencil
1970's Surfer Magazine Channel Islands Ad
1970's Surfer Magazine O'neill Ad
The Artist Today
Miramar Beach Acrylic on Linen © '2008, 24"x32" Artist Collection
Pauoa Bay Acrylic on Linen ©2004, 38"x 44 " Artist Collection