Passing the Torch: Ocean Fest names new t-shirt artist as Harlow steps down

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By Shawn Raymundo

As tradition dictates, the San Clemente Ocean Festival will begin selling its annual collectible t-shirts this Memorial Day weekend. But for the first time in 30 years, these popular tees won’t feature Bob Harlow’s fun, whimsical style.

After much thought over the past few years, the local artist has announced that it is now “time to step aside” and turn his attention and energy to other projects, handing over responsibility for this year’s work to fellow artist based in San Clemente. Roy González.

“Art is my life, and I will continue to create limited graphic designs while spending more time in my studio creating my mixed media sculptures and traveling more,” Harlow said in a prepared statement that Ocean Festival has announced. published this week.

Ocean Fest officials praised Harlow’s decades of support for the annual event, further highlighting some of his latest projects that include working with reclaimed wood, leather, paper and reclaimed materials.

Talk with San Clemente HoursOcean Fest executive director Peggy Vance credited Harlow for being a “huge asset to us” — especially during the pandemic-induced hiatus, when the nonprofit, as a 501(c)4, was not eligible for any grants or loans, and relied on T-Shirt Sale to raise funds.

Due to COVID-19 for the previous two years, Ocean Fest has been unable to hold the annual event which features several ocean-based competitions and draws large crowds to San Clemente Beach. However, with Harlow’s continued support, Ocean Fest has sold new collectible tees in 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, the shirts recognized the contributions Gary and Arlene Button had made to Ocean Fest over the years, while another design was dedicated to former San Clemente Marine Safety Captain Bill Humphreys.

Last year’s collectible shirts paid tribute to Roger Price, a longtime non-profit organization board member and community volunteer who died in November 2020.

With Harlow’s departure, Ocean Fest turned to Gonzalez, whose works over the past 40 years have “the most definitive and recognizable images of the surf, subculture and music industries,” said declared Ocean Fest in its press release.

According to the nonprofit, Ocean Fest President Jeff Beasley threw Gonzalez’s name into the pool of potential artists to lead this year’s t-shirt design after recalling an article from background according to which the San Clemente Diary had written about the local artist.

Gonzalez received unanimous approval from the Ocean Fest Board of Directors.

(From right) After 30 years, San Clemente artist Bob Harlow will no longer be creating Ocean Festival collector’s t-shirts, as he has decided to focus on other projects and passes the torch to his fellow artist Roy Gonzalez. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

“With his vibrant color palette and intricate visuals, Roy has created a fun and exciting design to usher in this very special 45th anniversary of ‘The Greatest Show on Surf’, which is sure to ensure our ever-popular T-shirts continue. to be collectables,” Ocean Fest said in the statement.

Describing the artwork for the 2022 edition of the T-shirts, Gonzalez said the design is meant to pay homage to his childhood in San Clemente and all the heartfelt memories he has of those days.

“Swimming to Seal Rock in the summer with friends and having the dolphins come and swim with us,” he said, highlighting those memories, which also included “all-day surfing and beach parties at the Lausen Hut at night; it was a magical coastal bubble in time.

Gonzalez also expressed his gratitude to the nonprofit, as well as his predecessor.

“I am honored that the San Clemente Ocean Festival and my good friend, artist Bob Harlow, have passed the sacred torch to me,” Gonzalez said in the statement.

Reflecting on his 30 years as Ocean Fest’s lead artist, Harlow thanked Vance and Deanna Botello, a former Ocean Fest president, as well as the staff and volunteers, for their hard work in organizing the event. annual event.

“This impressive event meant a lot to me, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in making the Ocean Festival a brand sold to fans and collectors around the world,” Harlow said in the statement.

The collector T-shirts for the 45th anniversary of the Festival de l’Océan will be went on sale Memorial Day weekendand can be found locally at the San Clemente Store in San Clemente Outlets, DeNault’s ACE Hardware Store, and Mikii’s in Del Mar. Ocean Fest is also looking to sell the shirts as a pop-up shop on the pier this summer. .

Ocean Fest is set to return July 16-17.

Follow Harlow on Instagram @harlowdesign to see his latest work. To discover Gonzalez’s work, visit his website at

SR_1Shawn Raymondo
Shawn Raymundo is the editor of Picket Fence Media. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in global studies. Prior to joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as a government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the US territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.

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