Becoming Rick Bliss

The Journey

You Gotta Have Fun

Thanks for visiting my website. My journey to becoming an artist is long, and so is the story. I’m sharing my story in the hopes that just maybe, you’ll get a better understanding of the genesis of my work and what brings us together today. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Rooted in San Diego, the vibrant city of my birth and upbringing, I witnessed the alchemy of color and paint in my father's auto body & paint shop, a family business for 47 years. Despite an initial reluctance to follow in my father's business footsteps, the allure of paint proved inevitable. My earlier career in the '80s and '90s as a nightclub, concert, and record promoter, including events like Wild Kingdom & "Colossus," laid the groundwork for my artistic endeavors. During this period, I transformed mundane spaces with abstract murals on bed sheets under black lights with body-painted go-go dancers to match the murals, transforming the total look of a boring location. Each mural lasted a few months and was then tossed in the trash. Painting wasn't a regular activity I enjoyed until later in my life, in 2003, I started to enjoy painting for the first time. Painting was becoming fun.


A serendipitous moment came one afternoon in front of the television, sparking an innovative idea to leverage abstract painting for charitable causes, inspired by a celebrity news segment on The Keep A Breast Foundation. This epiphany led me to conceptualize a unique form of art creation without the use of plaster molds, reminiscent of my nightclub days of body painting. Envisioning a project involving celebrities to support good causes through art, I delved into the logistics of fundraising through art sales, with the ambitious goal of raising $1 million for charity with a single work of art.

Despite initial challenges and humorous attempts at body stamping, my resolve led me to seek models through Craigslist, overcoming skepticism and proving the viability of my art as a means of philanthropy. Influenced by Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Carlos Vergara, and Mark Kastabi's promotional prowess, I embarked on a journey under the pseudonym Rick Bliss while exploring this new artistic venture.

My discovery of Yves Klein, a pioneer of body stamping, and subsequent opportunities to showcase my work at charity events, including The Playboy Mansion numerous times, marked a turning point. Despite initial reservations, live painting exhibitions became a new frontier for my art, culminating in memorable events and many contributions to various charities.

"Over the years I've painted live at many events and sold hundreds of pieces of artwork to benefit many different charities, it makes me feel good. I still haven’t painted a big celebrity yet, but who knows, one day I just might raise a million dollars for charity with a single work of art. I have a good feeling about it."…

"Painting is a passion I hope to have for the rest of my life. Thank God."

Rick Bliss

21 Things About Me

Not Everyone Knows

1) My given name is Gilbert Edward Ortega Jr. – Friends call me Gil.

2) In Junior High School I got the nickname CHILI, because of my last name. At 16 yrs old I started "CHILI" surfboard/clothing brand and party business known as CHILI Productions. I operated the business for more than 10 years.

3) I love trout fishing & playing chess.

4) My favorite music is Roots Reggae and Blues (always) + 50's Oldies, 70's-80's Punk, 80's New Wave, and 90's Hip Hop. With some Hank Williams era Country. Til Junior High, I grew up Country wearing cowboy hats.

5) In Junior High School I learned to Breakdance fairly well.

6) I had a sit down dinner with The Godfather of Soul James Brown.

7) The 1992 America's Cup Racing Yacht, after the big win, I drove, steered the authentic Stars & Stripes, underneath the Coronado Bridge in San Diego.

8) O.J. Simpson drove past me in his white Bronco before he got arrested.

9) I was shot at with a gun, real bullets, randomly, by a guy during the L.A-Rodney King Riot – the scariest night of my life.

10) I grew up on a ranch until I was a teen, in Jamul, rural San Diego with every conceivable farm animal in multiples.

11) Politically Independent, I’m fiscally conservative & socially liberal, a moderate Libertarian, with large informed opinions.

12) I took my first Entrepreneurship class in 10th grade, started my first business at 16 years old, and operated it for 10+ years.

13) My favorite type of food is Mediterranean/Greek, and Ice Cream is the best food on earth.

14) I played and followed sports as a youth, however, now, I prefer to spend my free time painting or fishing.

15) I won $5,000 from The Wheel of Fortune for answering my phone when they called me. I got a big check on the news. Here's the Video.

16) I’m 5’4” ½ tall, however, my license says 5’5” because I’m an optimist. 

17) I read a ton, however, I’ve read very few novels or books of fiction, I prefer business books, how-to books, blogs, and magazines.

18) I was a film student in College, I could spend the whole day watching movies. And I've done it too.

19) I love gambling, but I’m not a high roller, I hate betting big and losing. I win very often.

20) At the age of 39, I had a corneal transplant in one eye and another in my second eye at age 53. I have a degenerative eye disease called Keratoconus. Ironically, I was voted prettiest eyes in Junior High.

21) In 1987, I helped build the new Batmobile for Tim Burton's Batman movie with Michael Keaton.  




Awards & Press

  • It’s Nice That
  • AIGA
  • Fonts In Use
  • The Dieline




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