Rick Kitagawa is a visual artist based out of the foggy hills of San Francisco, California.  He is a multi-disciplinary artist who paints in acrylic, gouache, and watercolor, illustrates in photoshop, and prints with silkscreen, linocuts, and letterpress. Born and raised in Stockton, Rick moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue his Bachelor’s in Integrative Biology with a minor in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.  After obtaining his degree, and realizing that only art could make him happy, he left Berkeley for San Francisco, where he studied fine art and illustration at the Academy of Art University. 

Rick currently resides in San Francisco with his partner and fellow artist Eve Skylar. Together they're working on changing the world through art via Monkey + Seal.  Rick believes that he must "Create or Die." He also teaches workshops and classes, is co-owner of Big Umbrella Studios, and prints t-shirts for The Lords of Print. He is currently accepting new clients for commissions and illustrations and is searching for live painting opportunities.

Artist Statement

Rick's work is inspired by mythology, cryptozoology, horror films, and pop culture. He is currently developing two bodies of work: "Alone in the Dark" and "Bestiarum vocabulum." His previous series, "Tsukumogami," is currently on hold.

"Alone in the Dark" is an exploration of the nature of fear. While Beastiarum vocabulum provides the outlet for creating monsters, Alone in the Dark focuses on humans who fall prey to these beasts. Forcusing on portrature in a mix of classical realism mixed with 50's pulp images and a distinctly modern palette, Rick seeks to capture the unease (or sometimes sheer horror) of people who are "alone in the dark." Whether his figures haven't realized they're in danger yet or are already in the clutches of something diabolical, their fates may be implied but are ultimately up to the viewer to decide. Because fear is so personal, by taking the focus away from the demon or chainsaw maniac or other horror, Rick's goal is to let the viewer conjure up their own greatest fear that lurks just outside of the canvas.

"Beastiarum vocabulum," or "Book of the Beasts," is Rick's personal bestiary - a collection of creatures spawned from mythology of various cultures, urban legends, and the dark recesses of his own mind. As Rick "just likes to paint monsters," these creations come from someplace deep, raw, and primal, his own personal expression of the edgier sanctums of raw emotion, sexuality, dark humor, and death. As these darker subjects are sometimes difficult to bring to light in casual conversation, we tend to try our hand at humor as a vehicle to soften the blow. In the same manner, Rick infuses his beasts with often humorous backstories and comical descriptions, complicating our view of these beings of the dark as purely "evil" or "scary."

"Tsukumogami" is the general name for handcrafted Japanese items that have gained a soul after 100 years of existence. Just as Japanese mythology breathes life into ancient artifacts, Rick gives everyday inanimate objects a life of their own. He provides a humorous, often brutally honest look into everyday life using colloquialisms, puns, innuendos, and plays of the English language. Just as the descriptions of his beasts soften the blow, by removing the human element and replacing it with inanimate objects, Rick leaves the viewer with an objective phrase that immediately becomes subjective in the viewer's own mind.


Featured Exhibitions

"The Undiscovered: New World/The Secret of Deadbrook w/Eve Skylar - Oz Gallery
"Bestiarum vocabulum" w/Grant Gilliland - Big Umbrella Studios, San Francisco

Group Exhibitions

"Animism" - X-Generation, San Francisco
"From Caves, Waves, and Cosmia" - The Merchants of Reality, San Francisco"
Live painter - Flax Art & Design, San Francisco
"Drink Like a Fish" - 111 Minna - Live painter
The Evilest Place on Earth" - Big Umbrella Studios, San Francisco
"Cobalt" - Big Umbrella Studios, San Francisco
"Sketch for Japan" - Project One, San Francisco
"Deck of Cards" - Big Umbrella Studios, San Francisco

"The New Collective" - Big Umbrella Studios, San Francisco
"Alien/ation" - SPACE Gallery, San Francisco
"2010 Spring Show" - Academy Art University, San Francisco
"Out of Place" - SPACE Gallery, San Francisco
Artist’s Alley - Animation on Display 2010, San Francisco

Handmade Ho Down - Ten15, San Francisco
Exhibitor/featured artist - SF Zine Fest, San Francisco

Selected Client List
Hyphen Magazine
Asian American Theater Company
OSU’s Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Student Association
One4All Theater Company
Solar Powered Solutions, LLC
Connections Unlimited, LLC

Big Umbrella Studios - Resident Artist and Co-Owner
The Lords of Print - Partner
Academy of Art University Press Collective - Founding Vice-President
Monkey + Seal Press - Co-founder
Little Yeti - Lead Designer and Owner
Paper Hat Productions - Co-founder

Introduction to Silkscreen - Big Umbrella Studios
Bookbinding Basics - Paper Soure Fillmore
DIY Wedding Suites - Paper Source Fillmore

Introduction to Silkscreen - Big Umbrella Studios
DIY Slilkscreen Basics - SF Zine Fest
Bookbinding Basics and Beyond - SF Zine Fest
Learn to Box - Paper Source Fillmore
Wedding Day Details - Paper Source Fillmore
Wedding Invitations - Paper Source Fillmore
Creative Card Making - Paper Source Fillmore

The Art of the Pop-Up - Paper Source Fillmore
Basic Bookbinding - Paper Source Fillmore & Marina
Bookbinding Basics and Beyond - SF Zine Fest
Altered Books - Paper Source Fillmore

2009 - present: Freelance graphic designer and illustrator
2009 - 2011: Workshop Instructor - Paper Source
2006 - 2011: Invitation Coordinator/Shift Supervisor - Paper Source
2008 - 2009: Design Associate - Minted.com

2010 - B.F.A. - Academy of Art University, Fine Art & Illustration
2006 - B.A. - UC Berkeley, Integrative Biology & Asian American Studies

References available upon request