Categorize Artist Wayne White? Don’t Even Try

wayne white in tuxedo on stage with word paintings

Wayne White’s talents go well beyond painting.

In the world of art, if you’ve met with success by wielding a paintbrush or a camera or a microphone or a sculpting knife, it’s easy to hang onto that tool and become best known in its genre. Sure you may have liaisons and flirtations with other art forms — and may even become pretty good at them — but real success in multiple arts is pretty rare.

But don’t try to neatly categorize artist Wayne White. You will not succeed. Few artists have stepped so adroitly and successfully from genre to genre as he has.

During his lifelong career as an artist, White has skillfully dived into whatever art form has caught his fancy (or helped pay the bills): art director, cartoonist, set designer, animator, fine arts painter, illustrator, voice-over actor, puppeteer, sculptor, and first-rate raconteur.

White, the subject of the upcoming Independent Lens documentary Beauty is Embarrassing (10 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21; check local listings), delights in not being boxed in and defined. So in homage to his cavalcade of talents, we bring you a peek at some of his fun, off-the-wall work for TV. Tune in Monday to delight in the film’s joyous look at all of Wayne White’s artistic talents.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse — White was the art director, set designer, puppet designer, puppeteer, and voice for several of the characters. He designed and voiced characters such as Randy, Dirty Dog, Mr. Kite, and Roger the Monster. Bring back any memories (or flashbacks)?

Big Time — White was one of the designers and art directors for the video.  He won a Billboard Award for his work.

She’s Got Issues — White was a one-man animation team on this music video.  He illustrated and animated all of the animated elements.

Tonight, Tonight — Wayne was co-art director on the Smashing Pumpkins seminal music video. He designed the sets and props, and won an MTV Music Video award for his work.

Old Spice — For this spot, White painted what he calls “the world’s longest clipper ship painting.”  It measures two feet tall by 60 feet long, and was made but rolling out an insanely long sheet of canvas. The painting is believed to be hanging at the Old Spice offices these days.

(Say, what do you think they’re talking about in this commercial? Money? Sex?)

Snapple — Wayne lent his creativity to this Snapple commercial series in a big way. These have Wayne’s signature all over them. Which do you like best?

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  • David Schnur

    THUMBS UP! A remarkable film about a remarkable and creative man. I am grateful that the inspiration is still offered to all of us to be creative and express ourselves. We seem to be living in a bleak time (not like the 70’s) All creative people need to realize the purpose we serve to balance the creative blight of our time and not hide the creative gifts we have been given. It can’t help but make the world a better place. Wayne White, this film maker, and everyone involved are great examples for us. Be a maker not a taker!

    The zen carpenter

    • Julia Wolfe

      Eww – Paul Ryan’s meaningless catch phrase? Really?

      • David Schnur

        I asume you are refereing to the phrase “be a maker, not a taker” Actually I wasn’t aware he had any claim to this prase. If you were able apply it to the context of my post and not any political context, you would see I am recognising the contribution that creative individuals like Wayne White make to our society over the exploitation of people like bankers, lawyers, the health care industrial complex, politicians. and republicans in general. Sorry for any confusion my lack of clarity may have caused.
        The zen carpenter

  • Ed McCartan

    Fantastic Show. Wayne White breaths life into art. He rocked my mind. I try to do art also. He’s medicine for slouching artists. Ed McCartan, Brunswick, ME

  • Jane Ward

    OMG! Wayne White is amazing. How talented and real is he? Thank you for this coverage! I want to show it to my grade 8 ESL students. I was unaware of his work and now I will use your show as a take off point for my art classes. He is a true artist.

  • Evelyn Katz

    I’ve been telling everyone I know “Beauty is Embarassing” and Wayne White. Thank you!

  • Nina Allen

    He is extremely talented and it shows that he loves his work. Everyone must see “Beauty is Embarassing” and Wayne White.

  • yupthatsright

    I watched the film last night. I recommend you do, too.

  • One Deep

    Was definitely AKickInMyAzimuth. Thank you for sharing :)