Mon | Dec 11, 2023

Graphic artist and visual designer Neville Garrick has died

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2023 | 7:31 AM
Garrick died surrounded by family on Tuesday night in California, after a very brief fight with cancer. - Contributed photo

Jamaican graphic artist and visual designer, Kenneth Neville Anthony Garrick, who was most recognised for his award-winning work as art director for Bob Marley, has died.

Garrick died surrounded by family on Tuesday night in California in the United States, after a very brief fight with cancer.

His daughter, Naomi Garrick, in reflecting on her father's passing shared, “Words cannot adequately express the loss that we currently feel as a family to lose our beloved Neville. He was a master storyteller, history keeper, poignant artist, author, speaker, proud KC [Kingston College] and UCLA [University of California at Los Angeles] graduate and for us father, Grandpa, “Poppy”, provider, friend.

"Our hearts are broken as we come to terms with this loss. Neville in his own words “coloured the music” but for us, he coloured our lives. Our hope is that his work will continue to be enjoyed and celebrated around the world.”

Garrick's 50-year art career left an indelible mark on the realm of music album covers, posters, logos, and staging designs. His artistic genius was most vividly seen in the more than 100 album covers he crafted for legendary reggae artistes such as Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, The Wailers, Steel Pulse, and the I-Three, among others.

His artistic journey began at Kingston College and later took him to UCLA on a football scholarship.

It was during this time that he became a part of the civil rights movement, mentored by the esteemed Angela Davis.

Garrick was an active member of the Black Students Union and served as the associate editor of Nommo, the nation's oldest ethnic publication on a college campus.

His freshman year saw him organise seven fellow black art students to create "The Black Experience," a mural that would depict the struggles and triumphs of African-Americans in the United States. This mural, created in 1970, was ceremoniously restored in 2014, bearing witness to Garrick's enduring impact.

After completing his studies, Garrick returned to Kingston where he became the art director of the Jamaica Daily News from 1973 to 1974.

In 1974, he embarked on a career as the art director for Tuff Gong, a record label formed by the reggae group The Wailers in 1970. Garrick's friendship with Bob Marley positioned him as a keeper of the artiste's legacy. He was entrusted with designing an extension of the Bob Marley Museum and served as the very first executive director of the Bob Marley Foundation from 1990 to 1996. Garrick also co-produced the 1992 documentary Time Will Tell which featured rare insights from Bob Marley.

Garrick's creative journey also included his role as the leader in lighting and set direction for Reggae Sunsplash.

His lifelong dedication to the arts was duly recognised when, on August 6, 2005, in a ceremony marking Jamaica's 43rd year of independence, he accepted the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in honour of his unparalleled contributions to Jamaican music.

In 2022, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) presented Neville with the Gregory Isaacs Foundation Award for Album Design to highlight and celebrate his significant contributions and achievements which have positively impacted the development and promotion of Reggae.

On August 6, 2023 he was awarded the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD).

Earlier this year, his first album cover for Bob Marley, Rastaman Vibration, was also recognised by Billboard Magazine for being #22 Best 100 Album Cover of all time.

He is survived by his brother, Derek; three children, Christopher, Naomi and Nesta; and his former wife and close friend Colette.

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