Nationally known artists have sought help from Modern Multiples director.
By Adriana Ruiz
Known for his colorful, psychedelic, serigraph prints of pop culture icons such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, Richard Duardo is known as the “Warhol of the West”.
The master printer has more than 35 years of experience as an artist and works as managing director at Modern Multiples, a Los Angeles-based printmaking studio.
He will lecture 10 a.m.-noon followed by a screen-printing workshop 1:40-4:20 p.m. Oct. 16 in Room 120 of the visual arts center. The event is free and open to the public.
Duardo stumbled into his career as an artist in the 1960s while heavily involved with the Chicano rights movement.
In high school, he was the mastermind behind “Student Voice,” an alternative newspaper delivering hard news and organizing student walkouts to rebel against the educational system, which he believed was railroading young Latinos into manual labor vocational jobs instead of academic careers.
Duardo said newspapers can be influential and encourage people to think differently. He said his early work with the Chicano rights movement and the newspaper allowed him to evolve into an artist.
“A newspaper is text on paper. Ink on paper, you get graphics, and by getting graphic you can boil down ideas into a simple image,” Duardo said. “I’ll get visual because it is a lot more engaging to young people.”
Duardo said as a young man, he never intended to become an artist but he believes that people change.
“I think people evolve naturally if nobody gets in their way,” Duardo said. “I never intended to become an artist, I just evolved into one.”
Duardo attended Pasadena Community College, where he developed his skills not in a fine arts program, ironically, but in a vocational course.
He gained access to expensive materials, state-of-the-art equipment and a 24-hour lab in a course that taught printmaking for real estate signs.
“The fine arts printmaking department was forever lacking in materials, funds and supplies,” Duardo said. “When I transferred to the vocational department to learn printmaking as a commercial skill, they had an abundance of materials. I realized I can still make art here and get all this stuff for free.”
Duardo said as a result, he was able to develop his skills and took full advantage of the opportunity.
“I had total resources, complete freedom and 24-hour access to a facility that no one could ever afford,” he said. “That allowed me to work like a maniac literally and hone my skills.”
Other than having access to materials, Duardo said the classes he took and the professors teaching them were highly influential. He said he made it a point to take classes with professors who were teaching, not babysitting, and as a result his course study was all over the map.
“I was always more interested in the enthusiasm and commitment by the instructor,” he said. “It can be a pretty disconcerting experience as a student when you almost immediately feel like you are being babysat by a burned-out teacher.”
Duardo said he was offered a full ride to finish a master’s degree but declined the offer because he was eager to get started as an artist in the real world.
“I couldn’t wait to get out into the real world and do it versus spending another two years in school,” he said. “There is nothing I’m going to learn other than prepare for a graduate show, so I just said thanks, but no thanks.”
Duardo said he believes the best way to get established and started as an artist is to just get out there and do it.
“I am a firm believer that getting out there and doing it and doing it as fast as you can is the best way to do it, and I would encourage students to do that,” Duardo said.
Duardo said his work as an artist and master printer speaks for itself, bringing nationally known artists such as Shepard Fairey, David Hockney, Keith Haring and Banksy to seek his help.
In 1991, Duardo packed his things, closed his print shop and spent four years promoting concerts. Duardo said he did this because he needed a break from his medium.
“I just needed to wash my hair out with some kind of different activity,” he said.
Eventually, Duardo returned to producing prints and nurturing others at his studio.
He said being an artist is all about the relationship with the process, not about being rich or famous.
“I think it is a very unreal and unsustainable and a totally vacuous belief that the goal of being an artist is to be rich and famous,” Duardo said. “The goal of being an artist is to be an artist.”
Duardo said students can expect to learn how to create a print using one screen and one color to create an illusion of 30 colors.
For more information, call Debra Schafter at 210-486-1042.