narum’s began his professional career with sleek pen-and-inks of Houston’s sixties counterculture, where his album covers, poster art, T-shirts and political cartooning became synonymous with it’s counter culture movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He later co-founded radio station KLOL. narum’s trade mark signature is recognized world wide for the artwork and staging he created for “that little ol’ band from Texas” – ZZ Top.
In the early 1970s, narum returned to Austin to join with fellow Sheauxnough Studio artists in creating artwork for the underground press and various music venues, including the famous concert hall Armadillo World Headquarters. narum opened GOGO Studios in the 1980s to service Austin’s burgeoning music industry producing album covers, posters and logo designs for Stevie Ray Vaughan and many local musicians, clubs and record labels.
In 1988, narum was voted Austin Poster Artist of the Year in the Austin Chronicle’s People’s Choice Awards for his Continental Club poster series.
In 1993, narum was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Austin for providing a valued and distinguished service to the public through his artwork. narum’s artwork has been acquired by City and State historical preservation archives and private collectors world wide.
narum began experimenting with computer graphics in the mid-1980s and was also involved with several innovative multimedia and Internet related projects, as well as producing artwork for the music industry.
To everyone’s shock and sorrow, narum died on Wednesday, November 18, 2009. His passing leaves the art and music communities of Texas poorer, as the rich palette of his work that spanned decades and mediums is unparalleled.
narum was the reigning president of the Board of the South Austin Popular Culture Center, a task he performed with the same passion and commitment he gave his graphic and visual art. He was also loved Texas history, ethnomusicology, organic gardening, politics, and constantly sought to better his knowledge and understanding of the world around us.
“Bill Narum’s work is an excellent example of groundbreaking counterculture artwork from the Sixties to present day,” SAMPOC director Leea Mechling told the Austin Chronicle in 2005, when narum was exhibiting at the Center. “He’s applied his talents to radio, newspaper, film, poetry, painting. He’s a major contributor to the cultural dynamics of not only Austin, but Texas, the United States, and the world.”
Hank Alrich, head of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, agrees, calling narum, “a virtual brother. Besides sharing a deep appreciation of art, in the business world of graphics, he was ally. I could go to Bill and explain what I needed, might be vague or specific. In either case, he’d come back with something graceful and effective. His death leaves a deep sense of loss.”
narum’s memory will live long in the history of Texas, as appropriate a tribute to his dynamic life and work as can be.
- Obituary (Statesman)
- R.I.P. Bill Narum, KLOL Co-Founder, Leading Texas Counterculture Artist and ZZ Top Stage Designer (Houston Press)
- Bill Narum: We Call That Art (The Austin Chronicle)
- Bill Narum (Threadgill’s Supperman Stories)
- R.I.P. Bill Narum : Legendary Artist of the Texas Counterculture (The Rag Blog)