MASTERFIND Rick Rietveld & Phil Roberts admin December 5, 2023

MASTERFIND Rick Rietveld & Phil Roberts

Rietveld and Roberts are bonafide Art Masters who did it the old fashioned way: they stayed in school, studied a lot, and never stopped drawing. Their friendship goes back 30 years to the early days of the surf industry. It’s where they both got their start. Phil was working for Sundek Clothing and illustrating for surf magazines, while Rick took on a freelance job to create a company logo and found Maui and Sons. “I never dreamed I’d be part of the surf industry,†Rick told FIND about his start, “but as it worked out I combined two of my favorite things to do: Surfing and art.†In the late ‘70s, both Rick and Phil were already the top two illustrators in the industry. And even though they were familiar with each other’s work, it wasn’t until they met at a tradeshow in Florida that they began paying a lot more attention…

Now Fast forward ten years… Rick enjoying the fruits of his labor becoming world famous with Maui and Sons, and Phil grinding away as an illustrator making all those glamorous box office movie posters. No one outside of the surfing world had a clue who Phil Roberts even was. He all but bailed that industry when the computer came out with an illustrator of its own… And like that, it was the end of an era… Oddly enough, Rick feels like he ‘missed out’ on that whole Hollywood movie poster illustrating phenom, but according to Phil the whole Maui and Sons thing turned out to be a much better path. “Everybody around the world knows who you are,†he scolds Rick. “Yeah my posters were all over the world but my name wasn’t on any of them! Nobody knew who the hell I was!!†And we’re talking a lot of work without credit. “A year of sketching in that industry,†says Phil,“I’d do 3,000 drawings.†No joke.  HBO once hired him to do a series of poster sketches –none of which had his name– and he busted his ass setting a personal record of 100 drawings in 10 days. “I was on fire,†he recalls, “doing ten ensemble drawings per day and I just cranked.†It’s hard to imagine drawing that much but that’s what it takes to play in the Big Leagues.

Fast forward another ten years… it’s now the 90s and these guys are on fire. Phil’s designing waterparks. Rietveld’s got his own line of art-inspired clothing. Art going out worldwide. Collectors are going mad. Art is happening for both of them, and art is happening well. Today these guys are on a whole ‘nother level. Ironically, after years of battling concepts and ideas, they now share a studio in Newport’s sprouting art district known as “The Project.†Rick’s clothing line “Rietveld†is known worldwide, and Phil has continued his love for ocean science with some of the most incredible ocean and underwater illustrations on the planet. Mag covers here, commissioned pieces there…. No one can draw a better wave than Phil. Apparently Billabong knows this as well since they hired him to do a series of paintings, not including the one featured in the center spread of this magazine, a scene from the poster he illustrated for the new IMAX 3-D film called The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D starring Kelly Slater. When you see that poster, think of Phil. Know his style. Love his style. We sure do.

Being in their studio you can’t help but feel the buzz. Not just because the paintings are so sick but because of the creative energy in the room. Maybe that’s why they share the space. Maybe not. “Well it’s like the Godfather, you know,†Phil says in his best Marlon Brando. “You keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.â€Â  Rick just laughs as Phil adds, “We think a like, and sharing a studio we can look over each other’s shoulder and see what the other guy’s working on. Sometimes I’ll see him sketching something, and I’m like, damn, I was thinking of that first.†Regardless of why they share a studio, it doesn’t take a DaVinci to figure out the real reason: Creativity breeds creativity. When creative minds get together there’s no telling what’s going to happen. We just know that when these guys finish their next work of art it’ll be a MasterFIND.