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5th Black
orn in 1959 in South London, Paul White grew up the youngest of six children.
Before he was old enough to enter elementary school, his parents moved the
family to Crawley, a new overspill town in West Sussex. He remembers “living
in a house surrounded by the music of older siblings—one brother a mod, another
a rocker. I became obsessed with music and subculture. At the age of nine, I decided
I wanted to design record covers for a living.” White was particularly taken with the
designs of Hipgnosis and London designer Barney Bubbles, who brought Russian
constructivism and futurism to post-punk imagery. His influence on White’s aesthetics
is profound and particularly visible in his early design work.
Academically average, partially dyslexic, “but good at art,” White navigated the British
public school system and entered art college at age seventeen. After four years
of studying graphics and illustration at West Sussex College of Design on the south
coast of England, he moved to West Hampstead in North West London, where he
still lives today. He struggled to find freelance work but eventually generated enough
business to rent a studio space, giving himself the company name Re.Republican
Highlife, an ironic moniker he would use for the next eighteen months. He got his
work banging on doors. “I got a break when my friend Ken at Kilburn Lane had
too much work and let me operate as a kind of overspill. This led to working with
Einstürzende Neubauten, which introduced me to Stevo, Rob, and Jane at Some
Bizzarre,” an independent record label.
Ken asked White to join him and his friend Kath in setting up a design company
for the Virgin Group. Thus, The Clinic was born. “After eight months I decided
that I didn’t want to work in the mainstream, so I left to pursue freelance work.”
Paul White is the man behind Me Company.
Best known for digitizing the Icelandic performer Björk,
his pioneering use of 3-D graphics has fascinated
a generation of young designers and launched
a million rip-off rave flyers.
1981 1996
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Job no:81378-5 Title : RP_All Access (New PB Verdions) Client : Pro-vision
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Dept : DTP D/O : 22.10.05 (Job no:000000 D/O : 00.00.04 Co: CM0)
5th Black
NE LITTLE INDIAN All the sleeves
for the early releases by Some
Bizzarre and its subsidiary label
K:422 were manufactured by a company
called Mayking Records. “I used to have
a regular fight with the owner over the
quality of printing and regularly had to make
them reprint. One such fight on a Swans
cover over the color red lasted for two days.
(We won, of course.) At the time I became
quite friendly with one of the producers, Sue
Churchill. She was also part of an anarchist
punk band, Flux of Pink Indians. They were
in the process of recording their album
Uncarved Block. Having relayed the story of
the two-day argument to her boyfriend
Derek Birkett and her co-band members,
Derek called me the following week and
said something like ‘I hear you’re the best
sleeve designer in London, and a right
bolshey bastard, too. We should meet.
“The band was looking for a production and
distribution deal and needed someone
to design the cover for their album. At this
time, we had no plan to set up a label
beyond establishing the structure to release
this LP. I liked Derrick and the rest of the
band a lot, so I started attending the record-
ing sessions and working on preliminary
ideas for the cover.”
1981 1988 1989
Einstürzende Neubauten, record sleeve
Working with singer Blixa Bargeld, White
created this sleeve when first setting up
shop in Kilburn Lane.
Fad Gadget, illustration White’s
portrait of Frank Tovey, a.k.a. Fad Gadget,
shows an early attempt at turning
musicians into robots.
Flux of Pink Indians, record sleeve Created in 1986, this sleeve was one
of White’s first collaborations with his future partners in the label One Little Indian.
Erasure, Victim of Love remix,
record sleeve White explored a more
aggressive style of ink-bottle illustration
for this 1987 sleeve.
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