Guy Harvey, marine artist and environmentalist, fishes for growth

Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:18pm EST
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By Letitia Stein

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - Guy Harvey stared at a mural of his marine paintings - images that are reproduced on 2 million T-shirts a year - and frowned at a butterfly fish. The Pacific species didn't belong among the Florida wildlife depicted at a beach resort restaurant bearing his name.

"That one escaped me," said the 59-year-old artist and environmentalist, who said it can be difficult to control a brand in which he licenses his name and artwork.

Harvey's colorful, meticulously detailed renditions of popular game fish are embedded in U.S. boating culture from the Carolinas to Texas. A champion of "catch and release" ethics for sustainable fishing, he has channeled his commercial success into support for marine conservation and research.

Harvey, who was raised in Jamaica, has a doctorate in fisheries science from the University of the West Indies and studied marine biology in Scotland. He began developing his artistic style as a student and later stumbled into T-shirt sales.

For three decades he has licensed his paintings for T-shirt sales. Now, he is aiming to create a national brand with ventures that include Guy Harvey-named resorts and a line of high-end watches. Meanwhile, he is working on another brand-building project: painting the hull of a Norwegian Cruise Line megaship that is scheduled to launch next fall in Miami.

Harvey's brand may not be as big or well known as Tommy Bahama - the fictional character used to market upscale, casual clothing and other products inspired by coastal living - but his environmental activism can help distinguish him from competitors, said Miami-based brand consultant Bruce Turkel.

"There is a Guy Harvey," Turkel said. "He will be able to sell this lifestyle to all the people who are in Ohio and South Dakota and Minnesota who are freezing and looking for something to make them smile."

Currently, Harvey licenses his images on products from flip-flops to beach bags, drink tumblers to koozies, as well as collegiate apparel and a just-launched line of branded rums.   Continued...

U.S. artist and conservationist Guy Harvey (C) leads a group of volunteers along the San Juan estuary system for the second "mega cleanup" of garbage from the waterway, in San Juan, in this October 26, 2013 file picture.      REUTERS/Alvin Baez/Files