Jack White of the beloved 90’s band The White Stripes has just released a website, Jack White Art & Design. White, a multi-media artist with a lifetime portfolio, has collected the best of his work and catalogued it on the website. Pieces range from the in-your-face and bold to the subtle and thought-provoking, in a variety of artistic mediums. The website provides fans with the opportunity to get a glimpse into the intimate world of White’s creative mind, beyond his songwriting.
A Talented Artist
White, whose birth name is John Anthony Gillis, was born July 9, 1975 in Detroit, Michigan. White came from modest beginnings, with parents who worked as a maintenance man and a secretary for the Roman Catholic archdiocese. But the young White showed a propensity for creativity from a young age. The future music star dropped out of college in the mid-’90’s and worked as an upholsterer, a career that would later come full circle as part of his art designs.
During this time, White played drums and guitar in a number of bands around Detroit, gaining an appreciation for blues and deep, soulful, thought-provoking music. In 1996, White married Meg White, taking her last name, and they formed a two-person band: The White Stripes. Brittanica shares, “Meg’s transparently simple but powerful drumming perfectly complemented Jack’s virtuoso guitar work, expressive vocals, accomplished songwriting, and increasingly complex production work. The White Stripes were in the vanguard of a garage-rock revival in the late 1990s and created an energized idiosyncratic 21st-century version of the blues. Although the Whites divorced in 2000, they continued to play together, long presenting themselves as brother and sister to avoid questions about postmarital collaboration.”
The band broke up officially in 2011, but White continued to collaborate with other bands and embarked upon his own solo career. All along, he continued to create and build, his love for making art following through his many years at the top. White’s design website writes, “Born in Detroit in 1975 and currently residing in Nashville, Jack White is an interdisciplinary artist, equally as conversant in sculpture and upholstery as he is in music and songwriting. Exposed to both mid-century modern design and the local Detroit Cass Corridor artists like Gordon Newton and Robert Sestok from his work apprenticing under master upholsterer Brian Muldoon, White would take those seedlings of inspiration and go on to open his own upholstery shop, Third Man Upholstery, in 1996.”
Jack White Art & Design
The website showcases White’s work across a variety of disciplines, including photography, upholstery, graphic, interiors, instruments and hardware, sculpture and many more. Until recently, almost all of White’s artistic endeavors have been private commissions, so this is the first time the public is really getting a comprehensive look at his skills.
A press release shares, “Largely confined to private work over the past 20 years, Furniture & Upholstery offers first-ever public views of projects including an office chair restored in 2014 for Woodland Studios owners Gillian Welch and David Rawlings; an original Sam Phillips Recording studio couch, refurbished by White at the personal request of the Phillips family; the one-of-a-kind Warrior Chair, White’s first design contribution to the showroom of the Dallas company Warstic (which he co-owns with founder Ben Jenkins and Golden Glove second baseman Ian Kinsler); the Aluminum Chair Set, a series of four chairs hand stained and refinished by White during the pandemic lockdown of 2020; and the Triple 78 Chair, a very personal, and ultimately deeply cathartic project for White in which he pays tribute to the structure of Third Man Records itself.”
Some of the highlights include:
- The Triple 78 Chair: This unique-looking upholstered piece looks like three chairs nailed together. But White has managed to incorporate black leather seats across the piece to unify it, while adding three primary color back rests for a pop of color and a touch of chaos. The three back rests recall the colors of Third Man Records.
- The Red Tree: This revival of a dead tree used a cherry-picker to paint the bare branches a brilliant red. It’s a stark and startling contrast to the rich green grass surrounding it and small dark pond providing a backdrop.
- Photography: This section includes a variety of photography mediums, including polaroids, double-exposure polaroids and other various digital photographs. White’s eye for capturing the mundane in a way that becomes extraordinary is on full display throughout the photography section.
- Dead Weather Trap Kit: “Custom Ludwig drum kit designed by Jack White. The kit has been used live in The Dead Weather, in the recording and video for the James Bond franchise theme song Another Way To Die and used extensively by White himself and multiple drummers at Third Man Recording Studio.”
The display of talent goes on and on. White’s songwriting and unique, biting vocals may have driven his rise to fame but his other art can’t be ignored.
Other Musicians Who Create Art in Other Mediums
White is not alone in being a multi-disciplinary artist. Other famous musicians over the years have released art in other mediums, giving their fans a variety of ways to appreciate their creativity and skill. Among the most famous are:
- David Bowie: Legendary rock artist Bowie who died in 2016 was talent incarnate. Complex shares, “It is widely known that David Bowie has also cultivated a very artistic career. From his work in performance arts as a musician, mime, and as an avant-garde actor, to his creations on canvas and in sculpture, Bowie has created a very strong presence across the world of culture and arts.”
- Marilyn Manson: The oft-controversial god of rock/metal is a known watercolor artist. While Manson has said that his first customers were drug dealers, the world at large has been less receptive to his paintings. However despite his lukewarm showing on the public stage, his pieces have been displayed around the world.
- Paul McCartney: The former Beatles star loved painting as a young man, but set down his paintbrush under the mistaken belief that only professional artists had a right to the career. However, several decades later, he decided to paint anyway and picked the brush back up again. McCartney is prolific, having created hundreds of abstract pieces by now.
- Miles Davis: The famed musician used art to settle his mind. Per Complex, “A few years before his death, Miles Davis professed art is ‘like therapy for me, and it keeps my mind occupied with something when I’m not playing music.’ As an artist, Davis worked predominantly in pencil and paint, and his style ranged from figurative to abstract. Canvases featured recurring themes, such as intertwined androgynous figures and African tribal art.”
It seems that sometimes, the ability to write and perform soulful music goes hand-in-hand with the ability to translate to canvas. While it certainly isn’t an industry standard that all musicians have another discipline to share with the world, White has several. Jack White Art & Design proves that his mind has overflowed with creativity.