Do what you love. It’s going to lead you where you want to go.
The 2012 documentary “Beauty is Embarrassing” observes the life of Wayne White, an American artist, art director, puppeteer, set designer, animator, cartoonist and illustrator. This is a film about a man who does what he likes, creates something new, surprising his audience, and at the same time disregards the opinions of others. This is a story that inspires and helps you remember what you like to do, not what you have to.
Wayne White, born in Alabama, USA, began to paint soon enough; talent and creativity could be traced from his early childhood. Upon entering university, White met people who shared his interests and desire to create. As the artist himself says, the university has become a very important place for him and a starting point; it became not only a platform for the embodiment of creative ideas, but also a place of carefree youth, where crazy parties took place.
The artist began his career with the children’s television series “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” released in 1986. White created puppets for the show and received three Emmy awards for his work.
Nevertheless, having decided to expand his reach and explore other mediums, he later took up painting as well. He began buying lithographs in secondhand thrift stores, painting 3-D phrases on them, often containing profanity. Some carry the humorous hallmark message of White; as he says, “My mission is to bring humour into fine art. Not art world funny but real world funny.” Some, on the contrary, make you think, if they touch what is hidden deep inside. Whatever it is, he creates something new and stirs attention, discussion and laughter, making an invaluable contribution to the development of contemporary art.
There is also a place for love in this story. Mimi Pond is not only a famous American cartoonist and writer, but also the best friend, beloved woman and constant supporter of White. They met when Mimi was already successful and famous, and Wayne had nothing. The financial gap between them and their different social status did not become an obstacle to true love. Mimi was sure White was a rising star. She was always there, supporting and inspiring him, saying “It will be alright.” Many close friends of White say in the film that Mimi plays a big role in how the artist’s career has been developing. “I think she affords him the ability to do what he does,” comments Jonathan Gribetz, a producer. White himself confirms, “I could not have done it without Mimi. She is like the grown-up in our relationship. ” Mimi and Wayne are now raising two children, Woodrow and Lulu, who are also artists.
The film, directed by Neil Berkeley, is more like a home video that immerses viewers in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The shooting took place mostly in White’s house, and therefore the film allows us to get to know him better not only as an artist, but also as an ordinary person.
Furthemore, not only White’s wife and children participated in the filming, but also his parents, friends and close acquaintances, all those who know the artist well enough, which allows us to hear different opinions about him and his work. “That is a true person who is never satisfied, always wants to know what is the next thing,” says Paul Reubens, an actor with whom they were working together in “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” show. “He is a hardworking motherfucker,” adds Mimi, and therefore we immediately realize that White is a tireless perfectionist.
The documentary is ideally filmed in order to get to know White as a person, to understand what inspires and makes the artist move forward, to know who supports and motivates him. This is not a dry statement of his biography; this is an opportunity to get to know him personally, even though through a screen.
“Follow your heart and your pleasure in art. Do not do what you think is going to be making you money, or what your parents want you to do, or what that beautiful girl or guy thinks you should be doing. Do what you love. It is going to lead to where you want to go. Go out there and make the world more beautiful. I know you can.” To be honest, I cannot find more convenient and inspiring words than these, said by Wayne White himself. This statement is especially relevant now, at a time when each person has deeper thoughts and changes for the better. Let these words of White encourage people to do something they did not dare before, and after years, turning around, they will say, “Oh, yes, it really led me where I wanted to go.”