Paul Whitehead is an artist most famous for his work on album covers for Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator and many others. His work is curious and distinctive; at once both strange and familiar.
Born in Dartford, London in 1945, he won a scholarship to study art at Oxford, but the lure of commercial work in London for Liberty Records enticed him to leave. His first cover designs were for re-issues of American R&B artists such as Fats Domino and Nina Simone.
In 1969 he became art director for the new London listings magazine Time Out, now a worldwide institution. He continued to design album covers during this period, but the real breakthrough came when he met Peter Gabriel and then Tony Stratton-Smith, the founder of Charisma Records who gave him the job of in-house designer.
“I was there while they were writing and rehearsing. So, I'd hear the lyrics and over breakfast or dinner we would throw ideas around. It was a great collaboration!”
The cover for 1970 Genesis album Trespass was followed by others for Genesis and also for Van der Graaf Generator, Lindisfarne, and Peter Hammill. In the early seventies he also designed covers for many European progressive bands, such as Le Orme.
In 1974 Paul emigrated to Los Angeles, where he has continued his album cover work as well as paint, design, compose and perform music, and write film scripts.
“My favorite? It's probably Nursery Cryme. It just works very well with the music. It fits perfect. It's the right color, the right vibe...”