Kings of Concert Posters: Uncle Charlie

Clowns, spaceships and Pop Art collide in artist's colorful creations
By Peter Lindblad

Pantera White Zombie
1996 Original Silkscreen
Concert Poster Uncle
Charlie S/N
Flying machines have always fascinated Houston artist Charlie Hardwick, better known by his pseudonym Uncle Charlie.

The son of a Navy man who, for a time, was said to have piloted blimps and dabbled in oil painting, Uncle Charlie has always pushed the boundaries of Pop Art. Dreaming up explosively colorful scenes of insane absurdity, with bright, psychedelic scenes that harken back to the '60s, Uncle Charlie is fond of incorporating spaceships and other types of aircraft, along with his beloved cartoon images, in incredibly vivid and vibrant works.

Renowned for a style featuring striking outlines and surreal fractal landscapes, Uncle Charlie has gained a reputation as a uniquely talented concert poster artist. Major music acts such as U2, The Who, Metallica and Radiohead, to name just a few, have sought him out to produce artwork promoting gigs in venues around Houston and Austin.

Today, some of his handbills can go for as low as $5 to $13, while prices for many of his gig posters may range from $40 to $80, although some will fetch around $130 to $150 and others might push beyond $200 or more. Here's a gallery of some of his finest work for purchase:

Known for being humble and soft-spoken, Uncle Charlie, has persevered despite serious vision problems. Legally blind since 2003, Uncle Charlie continued to produce mind-blowing artwork long after, building off his acclaimed work in concert posters and commercial packaging designs.

Love & Rockets 1996 Original
Silkscreen Concert Poster
Uncle Charlie Art S/N
Born and bred in Houston, Hardwick started out playing in bands such as Blunt and local hardcore heroes Dresden 45 in the mid-1980s. While attending the University of Houston, he made a crucial decision not to waste his time with introductory design classes, instead switching to the Art Institute of Houston.

With the help of a musician friend, he found work at a design firm, where he stayed for 15 years as a senior designer. His commercial art graced products by Coke Food, Imperial Sugar and Minute Maid, but corporate downsizing in 2008 left him without a job. That led him to do more work with bands, although today Hardwick has immersed himself in doing more fine art.

On the side, for years, Hardwick had been moonlighting doing art for bands. In the late 1980s, he met the legendary concert poster artist Frank Kozik. Serving as Hardwick's mentor, it was Kozik who taught him a few tricks and encouraged the man who gained fame as Uncle Charlie to follow in his footsteps.

A few years later, in the early '90s, Hardwick was hired through a Cleveland gig poster broker to do a Smashing Pumpkins piece for a Houston-area concert promoter, Pace Concerts, that has long been one of his favorites. There's also a beautiful abstract piece he did for The Cure that so impressed the band that they asked for additional copies. Before that, he did fliers for all kinds of acts, but eventually, he settled on doing poster art, and the results speak for themselves. Below are works representative of Uncle Charlie's art.

The Who 1997 Original
Silkscreen Concert Poster
Uncle Charlie Art S/N

Weird Al Yankovic
2000 Original Concert
Promo Handbill Houston
Uncle Charlie Art

Foo Fighters 1995 Original
Silkscreen Concert Promo
Poster Uncle Charlie Art S/N

U2 PJ Harvey 2001 Original
Promo Concert Poster
Uncle Charlie Art Var 2

No comments:

Post a Comment