Beauty is Embarrassing: The irreverent and inspiring story of prolific artist, Wayne White

Ever wondered who created the offbeat set design for Pee-wee's Playhouse or the cool artwork for Smashing Pumpkin's "Tonight, Tonight" music video? We did. That's why we went to the premiere of Beauty is Embarrassing, a documentary on the talented, multi-faceted artist, Wayne White--the irreverent artist behind so many creative projects that made us say, "Who comes up with this?" out loud.

"Tonight is amazing. Everyone just wants their story told. This is a once in a life time experience, and I thank you very much," said White to the audience at the premiere of Beauty is Embarrasing in the SXSW Vimeo Theatre.

A designer, painter, puppeteer, sculptor, and musician, White's creations have inspired and influenced the postmodern pop art world for years, with very few people knowing or acknowledging that he has done so.

Artist Wayne White, looking at his word painting piece, "Eastern Fuckit". (photo courtesy of Beauty is Embarrassing)

The film features interviews from White's family and friends such as Simpson's creator, Matt Groening and Pee-wee Herman star, Paul Rubens, and more. These interviews, along with never-before-seen footage, shows White's quick rise to the top as a young artist, the fall of his Hollywood career, and how he emerged as a highly respected painter and performer.  

Director Neil Berkeley (left) and Wayne White (right) at the premiere of Beauty is Embarrassing at SXSW.

Extremely funny and at times poignant, this film does a fantastic job at portraying the artist's struggle, society's tendency to undervalue humour and comedy, as well as the importance of pursuing one's dreams and trusting that one's pursuits will pay off.

Like many of White's word paintings, "Star Fucker" attempts to inject humour into the art world. (photo courtesy of Beauty is Embarrassing)

In the question and answer period, following the screening, Berkeley and White shared their behind-the-scenes experience with the audience. We asked White which part of the film he thought was so beautiful, it made him feel embarrassed and why. After briefly pausing, he responds, "Seeing my parents on the big screen... because they're old southern country people and they're the last of their kind." 

See video

More in SXSW Adventures

SXSW for newbies: 10 great tips and lessons on how to rock the mega-festival like a pro

It is not mere exaggeration when you hear people say that South by Southwest (SXSW) is one crazy festival. Last year was our first time attending so we felt the need to read as many articles on how...

Said the Whale, The Sheep Dogs, Rich Aucoin, and more at the SXSW Canadian Blast Showcase

We couldn’t help but feel proud of our Canadian musicians who were showcasing their sound at SXSW this year. Here’s a photo recap of some acts we managed to catch at the Canadian Blast BBQ presented...

Getting to know Bob Marley

Marley, the first family sanctioned documentary on Bob Marley, had its North American premiere at SXSW, and we were fortunate enough to attend it. With a running time of 144 minutes, the film was...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.