What he does When asked to describe his craft, "Uncle" Charlie Hardwick replies, "I don't consider myself an artist. I'm more of a carnie, really." Hardwick may not see himself as an artist, but his extensive body of work in the music industry has elevated the 41-year-old Houston native to guru status among rock fans and poster artists alike. For the past two decades Uncle Charlie has amassed a body of work that includes promos for classic rock legends like Bob Dylan and The Who, modern rock titans such as Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins, and just about everyone in between. He currently holds the designation of official poster artist for House of Blues in Houston. Even more impressive is the fact that he's been working for the past nine years without the use of his sight.
Yes. You read that correctly. Charlie Hardwick is legally blind.
Why he likes it Art became a form of self-therapy for Hardwick when prolonged illness in 2003 resulted in irreparable damage to his optic nerve. He learned to work around his visual impairment, scanning doodles into his computer to be enlarged and manipulated with the help of special software. "I can't do a whole lot of detailing," he admits, adding, "I started to use a lot of really thick, chunky black outlines and bright colors -- actually, I think it made [my work] better."
Hardwick's medium of choice is giclee, a method of print processing that he feels "provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction" and produces results on par with silver-halide and gelatin processes found in museums and art galleries. Once an image is archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and at a reasonable cost. What's more, prints can be reproduced at any size and onto various media, like the skateboard decks, stickers, and magnets you can find on his website or his retail outlet at Sig's Lagoon.
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Who are his heroes? Topping the list of "the guru's" gurus is John Van Hamersveld. The 70-year-old Los Angeles based graphic artist and illustrator is credited with creating some of the most recognizable pop culture images of the 1960s, including the iconic movie poster for Endless Summer. Van Hamersveld's work can also be found on a number of definitive album covers such as The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, The Rolling Stones' Exhile on Main Street, and Blondie's Eat to the Beat.
What inspires him? "I find inspiration in everything; everywhere," he says in spaced-out, stoner tone, laughing at the esoteric nature of his response. The honest answer is that Hardwick's work is heavily influenced by other artists, cartoons, old horror movie posters, pop art -- and clowns. Creepy-ass, demented clowns. Suddenly that carnie reference starts to make more sense.
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