The life & work of artist Paul Whitehead.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my site. Most of you will know me as the artist that painted the record covers for Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator in the 70s. Choosing artist as your job description is rather like giving yourself permission to spend your life creating and approaching life as it comes to you - as an artist.
I was born at the end of World War 2 in Dartford, Kent at that time a severely bombed out suburb of S.E. London. By the time I started school at five I knew how to draw and paint. My work was always chosen by the teacher to be put up on the wall at school, the other kids thought I was a show off and my mother would always tell me to, "Clear up that mess - dinners ready." I ignored the world and sat in my corner endlessly amusing myself seeing how much fun I could have drawing anything that I could imagine. It also helped me to escape from the rigors of school "learning", which I did as much as I needed to to get by.
I suffered the consequences of this and was frequently caned and penalized for my lack attention. The only bright lights in the dreary school week were the geography and art classes. I went through a disastrous yet very informative "art school" phase at Oxford, which was just a continuation of the schools I had already been through, except this time they were trying to turn me into a museum curator.
My real education came in London in the sixties, a time of great change, vitality and immense creativity. I designed my first record cover in 1967 for Fats Domino and became a kind of in-house designer for Liberty Records in London. Shortly after that I was in the right place at the right time and became the original Art Director for the magazine Time Out in London, an entertainment guide to everything going on in Swinging London. Naturally every band - both the up and coming hopefuls and the already successful - came through our doors to place an ad or seeking a review of their latest LP. My design skills were often called on and then I met Genesis through their producer.
We hit it off instantly and - thanks to the visionary approach of the record company -Charisma - we were left alone to create the records and the covers of three records together with no interference. The results were Trespass, Nursery Cryme & Foxtrot, some of the most successful collaborations I have ever had working with musicians, they created the music and I made original paintings that reflected exactly the contents of the records. Other bands on Charisma that I worked with included Van der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill on his solo projects, Lindisfarne & Trevor Bilmus. I quickly became known as the painter and designer who worked with rock bands, a nice niche to be put into I thought. Collaborations with Renaissance, IF, High Tide, Mott the Hoople, Matthews Southern Comfort, Colin Scott & Steamhammer followed.
I immigrated to the United States and finally settled in Los Angeles.
I continued to create paintings for record covers and immediately
worked with Tom Fogarty and Le Orme who came to L.A. to make Smogmagica.
Most of the record cover work I have done has been for Progressive
rock bands although Ive made record covers for everything from
R&B & New Age to Funk. I recently worked with Earth, Wind
& Fire until they Earth, Wind and Fired me for not being black
you enjoy the site and dont forget - you are only an e-mail
away. I love to hear your thoughts about the site, share crazy ideas
with people on the other side of the world or across town, I like
to be given BIG creative challenges and of course I love to paint!