Haring was fascinated by the popular cartoon art of Walt Disney and Charles Schultz.
Haring briefly attended the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh after graduating high school in 1976. He dropped out after two semesters. In 1978, Haring decided to return to school, moving to New York City to become a student at the School of Visual Arts. He also befriended such other emerging artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat and helped organize exhibitions at nightclubs and other alternative locations.
In 1982, Haring had his first New York one-man show at the Shafrazi Gallery. Not only did he create paintings and sculptures for the show, he engulfed the entire gallery with his bold color choices and frenetic designs. A critical success, he soon became one of most popular artists of the time with exhibits in Japan, Brazil, and many other countries. Haring collaborated with other artists and performers, including Andy Warhol and William Burroughs.
Wanting to make his art more accessible, Haring opened Pop Shop in New York City in 1986. The store sold posters, t-shirts, and other items baring his artwork and designs. He was also interested many social causes, painting an anti-drug mural that same year. In all, he did more than 50 public works and held numerous workshops for children. In 1988, Haring discovered that he had AIDS. The next year he created the Keith Haring Foundation to support AIDS organizations and children’s programs.
Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications. His works continues to be exhibited around the world and many are owned by such prestigious museums as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.