Rick Griffin was an influential graphic designer for his era. His influence was profound in both the surf culture and the counter culture of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, and continues to this day.
Born in 1944, the son of an engineer and amateur archaeologist he spent a number of his formative years around Native American artefacts and ghost towns in California. This would have a lasting influence on his designs in later years.
Rick’s connection and immersion in surf culture during high school led to work advertising posters for surfboard shaper Greg Noll. After leaving school he became staff artist at Surfer magazine, for which he developed the comic character of Murphy, the eternal “gremlin” (ie: young surfer).
In 1964, Rick parted ways with Surfer, briefly attended art school and met the artist/ music collective Jook Savages, with whom he would later collaborate. He also suffered major car accident that left one eye dislocated and left him scarred. After this he changed his appearance (beard, long hair and eye patch) and also perfected his art, introducing his characteristic lettering and clean psychedelic style.
In 1966 he moved to San Francisco where he became one of the “Big Five” of psychedelic art. During this time he became famous for his work for the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and the Charlatans, as well as concerts such as “The Human Be-In” and “The Family Dog”.
In 1970, Rick converted to Christianity, where he did work for Christian recordings, such as the Gospel of John. Rick Griffin died in 1991, when his Harley-Davidson was hit by a van.
Rick’s style and images are often cited as archetypal of San Francisco of the ‘60’s and also psychedelia as a movement.