About the Artist

Fred H. Griffin (July 9, 1931 - April 23, 2011)

Fred H. Griffin

Artist statement

"To do it is not to learn it. To do it again and again is the learning process."

"I am the Fantasy Archeologist. The investigator of the visible. My paintings tie together years of metamorphic work that range from seed pods to whole orchestrated walls each part of a series celebrating Nature’s magical glimpses. The jewel-like hints that mean a vast untapped treasure lies within the earth’s surface. The archeologist begins to brush aside the surface to get to the source. I want to give the viewer the excitement of that moment - to give him the desire to uncover - peel away - to draw him through my paint strokes and surface edges. I want each viewer to feel the fascination when a glowing fossil has been unearthed. I want him to begin to read the romance of the painting."

~ Fred H. Griffin

Fred at AIS

A Brief History

There were no idle moments in Fred Griffin's Creative life. His spare time was filled with hunting and selecting materials for his work, whittling and sketching or just making marks that snowballed into designs, assemblages and paintings.

Fred Griffin majored in art studies at the University of Washington for four years; then attained his B.A. from Chouinard Art Institute, now California Institute for the arts, in Los Angeles, majoring in design and motion picture production. Griffin was an instructor, painter and artist. He, like his work, has been described as daring, experimental, whimsical, and fascinating -- always coming up with a unique perspective or combination of media. He created with fragments he collected during his wanderings as well as other non-traditional media such as mustard, tea, paper plates, driftwood and rope.

His many showings included the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Gallery in Bellevue, The Sanders Gallery in Seattle, The Northwest Art Exchange in La Conner and the Skagit Valley College Foundation Gallery.

His work has been accepted in many regional exhibitions, including the 1991 Puget Sound Country Show at the Enck Gallery in Bellevue, the 1992 Annual Puget Sound Area Exhibition at the Charles and Emma Frye Museum in Seattle and the Bellevue Art Museum 10/40 Anniversary Celebration.

Griffin juried for both the Seattle and Washington State Arts Commissions, the Seattle Art Museum and Edmonds Art Festival.

Griffin had a life-long passion for teaching, which began in 1960 as a faculty member of the Burnley School of Professional Art, and later became The Art Institute of Seattle, where he continued to work until 2010. He also taught at Bellevue Community College and Cornish College, Seattle.

Griffin is well-known for his "Design Code" -- a simple cross-reference for navigating through the process of design. His ideas and teachings have influenced many top designers during his 50 years as teacher and mentor.

Fred teaching workshop


  • University of Washington, Liberal Arts, 1951 - 1955
  • Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA, B.F.A in Film Arts, 1955 - 1958
  • Frye Art Museum Puget Sound Painters Exhibition; Honorable Mention, 1961
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition, 1961, Honorable Mention for "Tortoise pattern" (Mixed Casein Collage)
  • Craftsman Press Show; Calendar Award, 1963
  • Cellar Gallery Eastside Open; Second Award
  • Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters and the Seattle Historical Society Exhibition of Paintings, 8th annual, Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, award, 1967
  • Museum of History & Industry Changing Scene Show; Top Award
  • Seattle First National Bank; Purchase Award
  • Seattle Art Directors Association; Award of Merit
  • Pacific Northwest Arts & Crafts Fair 1966 - 1970; Honorable Mention (2), Second Award (2), Outdoor Sculptor
  • Edmonds Art Festival; Place Award, 1971
  • Edmonds Annual Art Show; 2nd Place
  • Foss Tug Exhibition Award and Calendar acceptance, 1975, 1976
  • Puget Sound Country Show at Louise Matzke Gallery, Seattle, Picture Source Award, 1981
Fred at Panaca Show
Shows & Exhibitions:

Paintings exhibited steadily since 1958 and presented in over a hundred regional shows, including the following:

  • Sebastian-Reeve Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 1958
  • 1960
  • Northwest Watercolor Society, 20th Annual Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum, 1960
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition at Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, 1960
  • Hall-Coleman Gallery, Seattle, April 1960
  • Smith Tower Gallery, Seattle, 1960
  • Seattle Art Museum 46th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1960
  • Zoë Dusanne Gallery, Seattle
  • Dick White Gallery, Seattle
  • 1961
  • Little Gallery at Frederick & Nelson, Seattle
  • Mountain Room Gallery, Rainier Brewery, 1961
  • Pine Street Show, 10th Annual, 1961
  • Marylhurst College, OR: One Man Show, 1961
  • Fremont Gallery Invitational Exhibition, 1961
  • Craftsman Press 11th Annual Pacific Northwest Art Exhibit, exhibited at Charles & Emma Frye Art Museum, 1961
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition at Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, 1961
  • Seattle Art Museum 47th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1961
  • 1962
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition at Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, 1962
  • Seattle Art Museum Circuit Exhibition, 1962
  • Del Teet's Furniture Store Orthopedic Sale Open House, 9 paintings, 1962
  • Seattle Art Museum 48th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1962
  • 1963
  • Seattle Art Museum 49th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1963
  • Craftsman Press 13th Annual Pacific Northwest Calendar Arts Contest, 1963
  • The Cellar Gallery Open Show, 1963
  • The Changing Scene in Seattle, Museum of History and Industry, 1963-1965
  • Marjorie Weiss Gallery
  • 1964
  • Panaca Rental Sales Gallery, 1964 - 1982
  • Craftsman Press 14th Annual Pacific Northwest Calendar Arts Contest, 1964
  • Seattle Art Museum 50th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1964
  • Artists Sales Gallery, University Village, Seattle, 1960s
  • 1965
  • Stephens Memorial Hospital, Edmonds, 1965
  • Exhibition of Northwest Watercolors, Seattle Art Museum, 1965
  • Seattle Art Museum 50th Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1965
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition, 7th Annual, at Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, 1965
  • 1966
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition, 8th Annual, at Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, 1966
  • Exhibition of Northwest Watercolors, 26th Annual, at the Seattle Art Museum pavilion, 1966
  • University Unitarian Church, Seattle, 1966
  • The Gallery, Seattle, One Man Show, 1966
  • Seattle Art Museum 52nd Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, 1966
  • Pacific Northwest's Arts & Crafts Fair, Bellevue, 1966 - 1970
  • 1967
  • Henry Gallery, four man invitational, 1967
  • Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters and the Seattle Historical Society Exhibition of Paintings, 8th Annual, Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, 1967
  • 1968
  • Dick White Gallery, Group Show, 1968
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition, 10th Annual, at Charles and Emma Frye Art Museum, 1968
  • 76 Main Street Gallery, select artists
  • 1970s
  • East Shore Gallery, Bellevue, 2 artists, 1970
  • Panaca Gallery, Bellevue, "Things of the Earth" - one man show, 1970
  • Seattle Art Museum Rental/Sales 1973 - 1977
  • Panaca Gallery, Bellevue, "Surface Life" one man show, 1974
  • Frederick & Nelson Little Gallery, one man show, 1975
  • Seattle Art Museum, RENTALOFT, 1975
  • Frye Art Museum, exhibition of Burnley School faculty works, seven paintings exhibited, 1976
  • Panaca Gallery Invitational, Northwest American Indian Influence on Contemporary Art, 1977
  • Sales Gallery, La Conner, 1977-1978
  • Panaca Gallery, "Recent Works", one man show, 1978
  • Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham; Limited Edition Show Exhibition, 1978
  • Valley Museum of Northwest Art, Sales Gallery, 1978-1982
  • 1980s
  • Louise Matzke Gallery, Seattle, WestCoast Paper, "Puget Sound Country" Show, 1981
  • Sanders Gallery, Seattle, 1982-1983
  • Skagit Valley College Foundation gallery, one man show, 1982
  • Bellevue Art Museum 10/40 Anniversary Invitational, 1986
  • 1990s
  • Puget Sound Country Show at the Enck Gallery, Bellevue, 1990
  • Lakemont Community, Bellevue; Nine Paintings at the Exhibition of N.W. Artists, 1992
  • Puget Sound Area Exhibition, Annual, at the Charles and Emma Frye Museum, Seattle, 1992
  • Stonington Gallery, exhibited, 1992-1995
  • Stonington Gallery, Mythological Creatures of the Northwest, exhibited, 1993
  • Preston Gallery, Seattle; Retrospective Exhibit, 1993
  • Puget Sound Country Exhibit of Northwest Painters at Moss Bay Gallery, 1994
  • The Art Institute of Seattle; Re: Marks, a one man retrospective show, 1995
  • 2014
  • Retrospective show at The Art Institute of Seattle Burnley Gallery, Art & Soul, 2014
Fred H. Griffin
  • Burnley School of Professional Art; basic, intermediate and advanced design, 1960-1982
  • The Art Institute of Seattle; basic, intermediate and advanced design, 1982-2010
  • Cornish College, formerly Cornish Institute of Allied Arts; graphic design, 1979-1984
  • Valley Museum of Northwest Art; series of workshops in design and composition, 1982-1983
  • Bellevue/Issaquah School District; evening graphics course for teachers, 1980
  • Bellevue Community College; graphic design, 1972
  • Creative Arts League, Kirkland - Design in applied and fine arts, 1965 - 1969
Fred teaching workshop
  • Seattle Art Museum - Docent group
  • Seattle Photographic Club
  • Community Art Groups
  • Washington State Schools
  • The King County Arts Commission
  • Sunset Club - Visual notation
  • Women painters of Washington - Collage design
  • Seattle and Washington State Arts Commissions
  • Seattle Art Museum
  • The Changing Scene in Washington, 5th Annual Juried Art Exhibit, 1964
  • Annual Northwest Watercolor, Seattle Art Museum, 1967
  • The Floating Poetry Gallery Graphic Arts Division, Seattle Arts Commission, 1979
  • Committee to select mural for installation at the Burn Center, Seattle, Washington State Arts Commission, 1982
  • Edmonds Annual Arts & Crafts Show
  • Seattle University's Religious Art Competition
  • Juanita Arts Fair
  • Cellar Gallery Puget Sound Opening
  • Beaux Arts Club
  • Seattle School and Scholastic Awards
  • Burien Art Fair
  • Several Art Clubs
Fred and painting

Fred Griffin owned a design business since 1959, performing design and consultant services for printed matter and motion picture storyboards for a number of Seattle firms and individuals.

Clients included:
  • Griffin Fuel Company; advertising and corporate image, 1959 - 1990
  • Rarig Film Productions; storyboard continuity, animation, 1960 - 1970
  • Coffin & Company Motion Picture & Animation; design consultant for storyboards, animation and printed collateral, 1966 - 1984
    • Clients include:
    • Weyerhaeuser Inc.
    • Boeing Aerospace Industries
    • Pacific Northwest Bell
    • Seattle Public School District
  • Cascade Magazine - Troubled Source
  • Nordstrom Best Southcenter - Wall Mural, 1968
  • Pacific Northwest Bell - Painting for presidential office, 1971
  • Red Cabbage Restaurant, painting for display and reproduction for menu and prints, 1976
  • Western Hotel, Supply Co., two wall murals for Toronto Hotel, 1976
  • Knaide Antiques - Historical Store Front painting
  • Franklin Savings & Loan, wall mural painting, 1966
Fred with totem painting
Professional Memberships and Appointments:
  • American Institute of Graphic Arts, since 1965
  • Studio Owners Association, SPGA
  • Chairman, SPGA, 1966
  • Chairman - Studio Owner Association
  • Constitutional Revisal Committee - Seattle Art Directors Society (SADS), 1966
  • Board of Directors - SADS, 1967-1968
  • Art Director - Visual Newsletter - SADS 1967-68
  • Board of trustees - Pacific Northwest Arts & Crafts Association, 1968-1973
  • Bellevue School Districts revisal of the High School Arts Department, Chairman
  • Chairman of Art Group - Bellevue School Districts - Directions for the 70's - Visual Summary, 1970
  • Chairman - Pacific Northwest Arts & Crafts - Formation of Art Center, 1970
  • Committee to select Director for Design Dept., Cornish College, 1981
  • Art Institute of Seattle, Design Dept. Coordinator, 1982-1984
  • Cornish Institute of Allied Arts, committee to select Design Director

Fred H. Griffin

Northwest artist and graphic design instructor, taught at Burnley School of Professional Art & Art Institute of Seattle from 1960 - 2010. His work was shown in many Northwest galleries throughout his career.

"Forty-five years of agile jousting, researching, and collaborating with the focus and discipline of a surgeon, Fred Griffin's passion for design education moves interminably forward… Embracing Fred's Design Code has a time-release quality. Sooner or later awareness detonates."

~ Marilyn Nordell, on Fred's 45th anniversary with Burnley/Seattle Art Institute

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