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HOUSTON GRAPHIC DESIGNER CHARLIE HARDWICK
After graduating from a Houston art college in 1992, Charlie had a
From 1993 to 2008 Charlie worked at a packaging design firm in Houston Texas. As a senior designer he worked on projects for Coke Foods, Mission Foods, Imperial Sugar and many others. The job required an understanding of branding and market strategy, along with strong design skills and experience of printproduction. Working with structural integrity and packaging architecture was also required.
"When big guns like U2, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers come to town, Uncle Charlie (Charlie Hardwick) gets the call to design one of his horror-movie—and Pop Art—inspired posters. A one time member of the local hardcore legends Dresden 45, Charlie cut his teeth doing artwork for bygone punk clubs the Axiom and Unicorn. He's now working on a book-length collection of his finest posters."
ART REFLECTS ROCK'S EVOLUTION.
by ANDREW DANSBY
NOV. 4th 2009 © Houston Chronicle
A year ago local artist Charlie Hardwick had a show in town, with dozens of the rock concert posters he'd designed over the years. Despite severe vision problems, Hardwick has remained busy in the time since, turning out dozens more, which he'll put on display and sell starting this weekend.
Hardwick, 40, has a foot firmly rooted in tradition with some psychedelic design touches. But he also has an affinity for the modern absurd and the odd, often incorporating clowns, spaceships, aircraft and such for his designs. Last year legendary poster maker Frank Kozic called him “a ‘real' poster artist with deep ties to the community and music.”
So he's made posters for modern bands such as Spoon, some from his youth like the Butthole Surfers and the Pogues, as well as favored classic rock acts such as Roky Erickson and the Who.
According to Hardwick some of his Who designs will be included in Paul Grushkin's The Art of Classic Rock, a lavish coffee table book to be published in the U.S. next year but is available now in the UK.
UNCLE CHARLIE IS HOUSTON'S POSTER BOY
Charlie Hardwick's works show his music connection
by ANDREW DANSBY
Freday, June 20th 2008 ©Houston Chronicle
harlie Hardwick was working for a local design firm that was struggling with a new logo for Hi-C. It was the mid-'90s, and shoppers were having trouble determining the flavor from the packaging. Hardwick came up with a color-coded wave to make clear what flavor was inside.
''It was very clearly an Uncle Charlie thing, a big, goopy line-art wave,'' he says.
The problem was solved.
Uncle Charlie is Hardwick's professional handle. Under that name he's similarly put his touch on pre-existing brands, only the brands have been touring bands. As Uncle Charlie, Hardwick, 39, has created rock posters for nearly two decades, radiantly colorful images that have plugged shows at venues in Houston and Austin for acts such as Radiohead, Metallica, James Brown, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers and dozens of others.
Hardwick will have his work on display Saturday at Sig's Lagoon. The show will include some of his nonmusic art, as well as dozens of posters, many of which will be for sale. They date back almost to the period when Hardwick gave up creating handbills and fliers for local shows and took up full-color poster-making.
Hardwick became an uncle early in earnest. He had older brothers, and by the age of 9 he was an uncle.
That was two years before he and his mother were at a Houston Hallmark store, and he signed up for a Halloween drawing contest. He says he drew some witches around a pot and some skulls and ended up winning.
''I won a gift certificate for Hallmark,'' he says, laughing. ''Whoo-hoo! I can buy some music boxes!
''Who knows? I might have been the only entry.''
Art was in the family. Hardwick says his father did some oil paintings in the '30s.
''He was big on French Impressionism,'' he says. ''And he hates Andy Warhol.''
But the elder Hardwick's job was with the Navy; for a time he flew blimps.
Between growing up in Houston (''born and raised, and I never left'') and his father's vocation, Hardwick had a fixation with flying things that shows up in his posters today. He also cites seeing the The Hindenburg as a kid.
One Radiohead poster features an airplane, another shows a cartoonish spaceship. ''When I think of Radiohead, I think of science and technology,'' he says. A third Radiohead poster is built around a faint dot-based image of a clown, another of his pet fascinations.
Hardwick didn't really follow the standard artistic path. He spent more time playing in bands such as Dresden 45 and Blunt in high school, though he says he did study the fliers created during that era.
While at the University of Houston he decided he didn't want to log hours in introductory design classes, so he instead enrolled at the Art Institute of Houston, and a musician pal got him in the door at a local design firm.
He started doing some fliers for a wide array of bands, though he cites fliers for Uncle Tupelo and Smashing Pumpkins as two of which he is fond.
Hardwick met legendary Austin-based designer and postermaker Frank Kozik in the late '80s. They became friends, and Kozik nudged Hardwick into doing his own posters.
''It was like going to the mountain,'' Hardwick says. ''He took me under his wing, and we talked about color separations; he showed me about overlays. The principles of printing.''
Without being imitative, Hardwick's posters share a classic colorful look with some of Kozik's. Where many indie-rock posters today go for a minimalist approach, both in color and design, Hardwick's are often full of stimuli.
In the early '90s he was hired by a Cleveland-based ''poster broker-type guy'' to do a Smashing Pumpkins poster. Soon he was negotiating with local promoters and cutting out the middlemen.
He also found work in Austin, which he says caused no troubles with his mentor.
''Frank told me, 'Dude, there's more than enough work to go around.' He was always encouraging.''
Kozik says of his student, ''He comes from way back, his band was awesome, and he is what I consider a 'real' poster artist with deep ties to the community and music.''
Hardwick does have greater attachment to the bands (''I listen to just about everything.'') than he does Hi-C, but the approach is the same: finding a way to fuse his style with that of the band.
A sweetly soft-spoken guy with a wife and kids, Hardwick's voice perks up a little when he talks about bands that have complimented his work.
Recently he did a gorgeous poster for the Cure's June 9 Toyota Center show. Hardwick admits the cartoon-character images are among his favorite, but he also enjoys trying different things. The Cure poster is among his most abstract. He seems genuinely humbled that the band asked for additional copies of the poster.
''That's always a great compliment,'' he says.
Out of the graphic-design business, Hardwick is hoping to spend more time working on paintings and establishing a reputation with those. And making more posters.
He recently completed one that sums up the inclusive and familial nature of his music appreciation. Hardwick did the poster for Willie Nelson's July 5 picnic at the Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race Park.
He speaks with admiration for the acts on the bill: Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, David Allan Coe, Billy Joe Shaver, Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Los Lonely Boys.
''Since I have four older brothers, I listened to a lot of older music growing up,'' he says. ''When I was in junior high, I was listening to the Stones and the Who, while my friends were listening to Olivia Newton-John.
''Maybe it made me an oddball, but I think it's valuable to develop an appreciation for different things.''