Categorize Artist Wayne White? Don’t Even Try

Posted on January 21, 2013

Before tonight's premiere of Beauty is EmbarrassingIndependent Lens reflects on the eclectic career of artist Wayne White.

Wayne White’s talents go well beyond painting.

In the world of art, if you’ve met 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 that 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 (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 tonight 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.


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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