Collage artist and painter Jim Harter was born in Lubbock, Texas, but has wandered the world in search of enlightenment and images. Harter was an "image archivist," a self-defined profession. From 1969-72 he played a part in creating posters for Austin's legendary rock venues, the Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo World Headquarters. Influenced by San Francisco collage artist Wilfried Satty, Harter turned to making surrealist collages from 19th century engravings. In 1976 he moved to New York, becoming a freelance illustrator, and editor of clip-art books for Dover, and later for other publications.
Harter worked as a freelance illustrator for many magazines, book publishers, and newspapers, ranging from the Berkeley Barb to the New York Times. Harter's American Railroads of the Nineteenth Century was included by the "A List" as one of the exceptional books of 1998. His work has been cited in John and Joan Digby's The Collage Handbook (Thames & Hudson, 1985), in Psychology Today, and elsewhere. His most recent collection of his collages is Initiations in the Abyss: A Surrealist Apocalypse (Wings Press, 2002).
In 1984, Harter began painting using an old-master technique which he learned from Carlos Madrid. This work owes inspiration to Symbolism, Surrealism, Fantastic Realism, and an exposure to Eastern Philosophy. During the early 1980s Harter became friends with Dr. Jean Letschert, a Belgian visionary painter and former student of Rene Magritte. He also met members of Holland's Metarealist group, and fantastic realist painters in New York. In 1986 Harter moved to San Antonio, Texas where he remained. In his last few years he returned to his collage work, digitally colorizing a number of his creations.