The Art of Rik Catlow

Est. 1998

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Rik Catlow's self proclaimed "urban pop art" style has developed over a number of years and countless influences. Drawing inspiration from his years working in New York City, he has tried to capture the typographic chaos the city bombards its inhabitants with. Rik layers paper and paint to create dense compositions that have a kinship with guerrilla advertising that is so prevalent in most urban environments.

His world has a dark sense of humor with characters that have befallen some tragedy or deformity. Using found objects like smashed beverage cans and wood for canvases, his work has an organic weathered look. He combines raw materials like paper, paint, wood and a dash of humor to create his artistic witches' brew. Rik's process is quite random, forgoing compositional sketches. He lets each step guide his next and rarely works in a way that has a predetermined outcome.

Born in Hoboken, NJ in 1970, he studied illustration at The Kubert School and The School of Visual Arts in New York City. Recently, he completed a painting for 20th Century Fox's Family Guy, which had a two year tour with notable stops at the Paley Center for Media in LA & NYC. His art has been shown all over the US, Europe, Canada and Australia and his work has been featured in publications such as The Seattle Stranger, Portland Mercury and Advanced Photoshop. He currently resides in Austin, TX with his wife Wassa, daughter Becca and their fat tabby cat Bobo.

Artist Statement

Growing up just miles from New York City helped feed my constant need to see new things. One thing that has fueled my current work is urban scrawl. Graffiti on the sides of buildings, posted bills on a construction sites, and lampposts layered with stickers promoting propagandists. The city is a constantly evolving organism that has its own unique beauty. You can walk down a street in Lower Manhattan and see urban walls tagged with graffiti and walk down the same street a week later only to find that it is vastly different. The majestic signage and layered landscape of typography that is the city is amazing. I seek to create an image that makes you feel like you’re on a city street being bombarded with advertisements, street signs, and discarded paper.

The thin-line between tragedy and comedy is also pervasive in my art. It is amazing how broad the spectrum of humor has, It is a delicate balance between what some people will find offensive and others find absolutely hilarious. It is a tight rope I love to traverse and when I'm able to make someone smile or laugh i feel i've accomplished my goal.

My process is quite random and doesn’t have much sketching of the final composition. Most of the objects that I use are found pieces of paper from the street and miscellaneous junk mail. I have a particular fondness for stamped random numbers that are found on parking tickets. I try to use images from the past, type from foreign language magazines, and drawings from my own sketchbook that I feel strong about. Then I apply acrylic paint on top of those sketches and images to complete the piece. By working in such a random manner, it is very satisfying when this process works.

I just love to create and be inspired.

Selected Exhibitions

  • 9/11 - Old School Video Games - Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA
  • 9/11 - Dig for Fire - C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice, CA
  • 5/10 - Another Dimension - Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA
  • 4/09 - Idiot Box - Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA
  • 7/08 - New Works - TAG Art Gallery in Nashville, TN
  • 12/08 - Infinity Squared - Distinction Gallery in Escondido, CA
  • 11/07 - Midnight Garden - Foundation One Gallery in Decatur, GA
  • 11/06 - What the Deuce! - Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles & New York
  • 8/06 - Picks of the Harvest - Thinkspace in Culver City, CA
  • 12/06 - Mike Burnett’s NeighborWOOD - Compound in Portland, OR
  • 4/06 - What’s New - Lab 101 Gallery in Culver City, CA
  • 3/05 - Everything but the Kitschen Synch - La Luz de Jesus in Hollywood, CA
  • 6/04 - Hollywood: The Remix - Wooster Collective in New York, NY
  • 3/04 - Everything but the Kitschen Synch - La Luz de Jesus in Hollywood, CA
  • 8/03 - Thoughcrimez 2nd Annual - Thoughtcrimez in Toronto, ON

Media Coverage

  • Doodler Anonymous - Spotlight - VIEW
  • Covers for Seattle Stranger - VIEW #1 - VIEW #2
  • Cover for Portland Mercury - VIEW
  • Lab 101 "What's New" Show - Video - VIEW
  • Art Bastard - Interview - VIEW
  • Advanced Photoshop - Article - VIEW