Graphics and The Early Years

….. fast forward to 1983.

7 years on an off shore oil rig will change a man….and his life.

And so it did mine.  

Divorce. Lost job. Three year plunge into a dark place. Actually many places including Rome, Lake Taho, L.A., Miami, Scotland and London. Thanks to friends and family putting up with me, and a new found love, I emerged to find myself living in South Florida.

The designs that started it all.

The designs that started it all.

Just before getting to Miami I had helped my youngest brother Robert make a Windsurfing Video. When it came time to launch it he took a spot at the 1986 Long Beach Action Sports Expo.

Instead of getting t-shirts printed for the sales staff we decided that I’d hand paint a dozen images on some shirts. I’d just got back from England and the oversize thing had just started there. So I painted some big and colorful designs on huge t-shirts and surprise surprise, they were a big hit.

Hey, big enough that a couple of months latter I got a phone call inviting me to New York to meet with the Swatch design people. I thought it was a prank. Anyway, the next day I was hired to produce clothing, watchbands and accessory designs for the most famous watch company on the planet.

Bloody hell!

Where did that come from? Anyway the big deal is that they need each piece in multiple colorways. So it meant doing each design up to 10 times. Boring! So I went out and bought myself an Amiga computer and learned Delux Paint. Now I could draw in the designs for instant gratification and easy color changes. But not only did the computer make things efficient the Amiga made my creative juices flow big time…  What a great machine.

With something like 400 x 320 resolution with a whopping 16 colors to chose from. This was cutting edge stuff. I bought the first ink jet color printer on the market, a Xerox and was one of the original artists to use a computer for fashion design. Not only could I paint on it with almost real brush strokes, but then I would blow up my creations to a working size and wow……. they had pixilated edges. I’d never seen that in art.. nor had anyone else… Swatch loved it!

That same year I got discovered by some of the top sportswear houses in the world. In addition to Swatch I was working for Wilson Tennis on all kinds of clothing, I was the sole designer for Neil Pryde, the world’s largest windsurf company and through them Elho Brunner, The top Sportswear company in Germany. Later I would do art for Reebok and Ellesse.

Elho Ski Jacket

Elho Ski Jacket

There were many clothing companies I created art for but I must tell you about Elho Brunner, who at the time were one of the largest sportswear companies in Europe. After Elho’s head guy flew to Florida to meet me I was asked to produce ideas for graphics for Skiwear, Swimwear and Golf clothing. I had 2 weeks to get them the designs as it was already late in the year for the winter season. So I went into overdrive and delivered some very cool stuff.  When I got to see the new catalog I was speechless. They had taken my work and made a clothing line out of it that was stunning. I was on the front page and featured as “The New Master of Fashion Design”!

Later that year, Elho asked me to come to the SIA (Ski Industry) show in Las Vegas. And there I was, in the bright lights, my art and designs, not only on all the clothing, but the Elho stand was made of photos of my stuff blown up 20 feet wide and 10 feet high. My name was plastered everywhere!

I believe I cried.

I worked for them for 6 seasons and designed some really groundbreaking stuff.  My work was being featured in fashion magazines around the world. What a trip!
By then I was putting in 15, 18 and more hours a day. My creativity was just running away with me. I was designing for an amazing variety and number of clients. I think I had over 60 active clients at once during this crazy time. I designed the best selling Wilson shirt ever. Through Wilson, tennis legend Chris Evert saw and loved my work. I had a long relationship with Chris, designing everything for her Chris Evert Charities Pro celebrity Tennis Tournament.  Chris also commissioned me to paint a large canvas every year that was a feature of her Gala Charity Auction.
Around this time I got the commission to design the cover and poster art for the Palm Beach Grand Prix.  I went out on a limb and produced a very abstract piece that was a big hit with the fans. Before I knew it I was designing for multiple teams and drivers in the sport. A sport I really loved.

So it took no pushing to get me to direct all my attention to motor racing. I produced my first limited edition serigraphs.  These were of famous Indy Race drivers. The initial edition sold out all 150 prints in a week!  I was painting auto inspired art regularly and selling to collectors around the world. Then I decided to expand my horizons and become an Event Merchandiser. I was doing designs for all these races and teams so why not make and sell the stuff too.

1995 Miami Grand Prix Poster

1995 Miami Grand Prix Poster

We started with the 1995 Miami Grand Prix. One of the biggest races on the East Coast.  100,000 spectators, 10 retail booths and a staff of 50 people. What the hell was I doing! Well we sold more stuff at that race than any other Indy Car event other than Indy itself.

Guess what. Within days the Big Boys were on the phone and in my bedroom (where I had my office). That year we became the biggest independant event merchaniser in Indy Car racing. And I was producing more art for races, racers and race fans than any artist on the planet.

The really cool thing about this was that it was a huge learning experience for me as an artist. When  designed clothing and other art I did my own thing in my current style. But with all these races and teams I was forced to keep changing and experimenting with very different styles. These guys all wanted Ray Masters but at the same time they needed something fresh and individual.

So one minute I’m doing my very abstract “what the hell is that…a Panda?” stuff. And next I’m going Art Deco. Then Impressionism. Then Expressionism. So I studied and practiced and experimented and grew.

Oh, and I pranced around the race paddocks on my yellow scooter like some kind of pop star and hung with my racing driver heroes and made lots of money.

So that’s what I did very successfully until 1999, when my Gemini other person thing took over and told me it was time for a change……..