Michael V. Rios is a native of Oakland, California, born on December 10th, 1947. While in his sophomore year at Oakland’s Fremont High School, Michael’s artistic talents caught the attention of his teachers, and he received a scholarship to the prestigious San Francisco Academy of Art College, which he attended from 1964 to 1966.
Upon graduation from the Academy, Michael worked as an illustrator for the famous San Francisco men’s clothier, Roos Atkins. Rios then opened his own commercial art and graphics studio in North Beach (the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco). He also created children’s books, billboards, Fuller/O’Brien paint ads and other “high end” commercial art. It wasn’t long before this thriving young commercial artist became one of the hottest prospects in San Francisco’s advertising world. This next period of his life found Michael as the creative partner in Union Street’s “Winston, Rios & Brown”.
In the seventies, Michael became proficient in numerous mediums from acrylics to watercolors. After returning from an extensive trip to Europe, he found his way to the Mission District (the Hispanic neighborhood of San Francisco). Rios began taking an active interest in his new environment. His years of creating billboards were a natural transition for his new “mission in the Mission”. Rios created some of the first large murals that made the Mission District famous and his effort to “beautify the place I live in” brought him national attention.
It was inevitable that Michael Rios and Carlos Santana would come together, but it wasn’t until 1986 that these two supreme artists really took notice of each other. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Santana, Rios created the mural Inspire To Aspire, located on South Van Ness and 22nd Streets. Musical heroes, icons and symbols common to those who lived in the Mission are represented in this creation that spans three buildings. It was the inspiration for what became a beautiful friendship and a long, artistic collaboration between the musician and the painter.
Michael’s work for Carlos Santana has included concert backdrops, custom clothing designs, guitars, and several record album covers, including the Grammy Award winning “Supernatural.” Michael’s commissioned artwork has appeared on several recordings, including Grammy Award Winner Poncho Sanchez’ “Latin Spirits,” and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Steve Winwood’s “About Time.”
Michael Rios has created original artwork for such clients as the Latin Recording Academy, the Mars Family, the Andre Agassi Foundation, Sony Signatures, LP Percussion and AGInteractive. Today, Michael Rios’ work continues to cross boundaries and is highly regarded for its power, vision and color..