Changingman: Paul Weller – The Evolution of an Iconic Artist
Examining Paul Weller’s changing image and artistic influences across The Jam, The Style Council and his solo career
In the realm of British music, few artists have left as profound an impact as Paul Weller. From his early days with The Jam to his ventures with The Style Council and his illustrious solo career, Weller has continually reinvented his artistic image. The result is an impressive musical career and an influential mark left on the music scene.
Paul Weller’s artistic image has evolved from rebellious punk icon with The Jam to a sophisticated, eclectic musician with The Style Council, and now a mature, introspective solo artist. His image has evolved alongside his music, reflecting growth, experimentation, and a socially-conscious persona.
This blog post explores the artistic influences that have shaped Paul Weller’s journey. It discusses his evolving image over the years and the significance of his album cover artwork in capturing his multifaceted musical persona.
I also painted Paul Weller in a vibrant, orange pop art style in 2019 when starting off my By Kerwin collection. Read on to discover where I got the colour inspiration from.
The Jam: A Punk Manifesto
Paul Weller’s journey as a musician began with the influential punk rock band, The Jam, in Woking, Surrey, England in 1972. Inspired by the raw energy of punk, Weller, along with bandmates Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, crafted an explosive sound that echoed the frustrations and aspirations of the working-class youth.
Their album covers, like “In the City” and “All Mod Cons,” displayed bold simplicity, reflecting the band’s no-frills approach. Weller’s sharp lyrics and Mod-inspired fashion sense became emblematic of his distinctive artistic persona.
The Style Council: Exploring New Horizons
With the formation of The Style Council, Weller embarked on a musical departure from The Jam’s punk roots. Infused with elements of soul, jazz and pop, the band’s sound was sophisticated and eclectic. Paul Weller’s image evolved alongside the music, adopting a suave and stylish appearance that mirrored the band’s more refined approach.
Album covers like “Café Bleu” and “Our Favourite Shop” showcased a fusion of elegance and artistic experimentation, signalling a departure from Weller’s earlier punk aesthetic.
Paul Weller’s Solo Career: Maturing Artistry
As Weller embarked on his solo career, he continued to push artistic boundaries and explore new musical territories. His solo albums, such as “Wild Wood” and “Stanley Road,” demonstrated a maturing artistry and showcased his ability to seamlessly blend genres like rock, folk and soul.
Paul Weller’s album cover artwork during his solo phase often featured introspective imagery, reflecting his introspective song writing and personal growth. The evolution of his image paralleled the evolution of his music, with a more introspective and refined persona emerging.
Artistic Influences: From Mod Culture to Social Commentary
Throughout his career, Paul Weller has drawn inspiration from diverse sources. His early fascination with Mod culture, evident in his fashion choices and musical stylings, laid the foundation for his artistic identity. However, Weller’s influences expanded beyond Mod, as he embraced soul, jazz, and even folk traditions.
Moreover, his lyrics shifted from youthful rebellion with The Jam to social commentary, tackling topics like political unrest and the struggles of everyday life with The Style Council. These artistic influences shaped his image as a socially-conscious musician with a timeless appeal.
The Legacy of Paul Weller: A Cultural icon
As Paul Weller’s career has spanned decades, his influence on subsequent generations of musicians is undeniable. His ability to adapt and reinvent himself while maintaining a sense of authenticity has solidified his status as a cultural icon. From his rebellious punk days to his sophisticated solo endeavours, Weller has inspired countless artists to challenge conventions and explore new musical territories.
The iconic album cover artwork associated with his various projects serves as visual milestones in his artistic evolution, capturing the essence of each phase.
Conclusion: The Changingman
Paul Weller’s artistic journey through The Jam, The Style Council and his solo career exemplifies an artist unafraid of evolution and experimentation. From punk provocateur to sophisticated soloist, Paul Weller’s image and music have continuously evolved, resonating with audiences across generations. He even wrote a song labelling himself as “The Changingman”.
Through his album cover artwork, Paul Weller has visually documented his artistic growth and mirrored the themes and sounds explored in his music.
As Weller embraced different genres and matured as an artist, his album covers became more intricate and reflective of the music contained within. They evolved from simple designs to visually complex and thought-provoking compositions. Each cover became a visual representation of the sonic landscapes and lyrical themes that Weller sought to convey.
From the bold, minimalist designs of The Jam’s early albums to the vibrant and eclectic artwork of The Style Council’s releases, Paul Weller’s album covers captured the essence of each era. They not only provided a glimpse into the sonic experience awaiting the listeners but also offered a visual narrative of Weller’s artistic journey.
Weller’s Solo Career
In his solo career, Weller continued to collaborate with talented artists and designers to create album covers that were both visually stunning and thematically resonant. From the serene and introspective imagery of “Wild Wood” to the gritty and atmospheric visuals of “Stanley Road,” each cover encapsulated the mood and emotions woven into Weller’s music.
The artistic influences behind Paul Weller’s album cover artwork are diverse, drawing inspiration from various artistic movements and cultural references. Mod culture, which initially shaped Weller’s aesthetic, remains a significant influence. However, as Paul Weller’s musical palette expanded, so did his visual representation.
Artistic movements like Pop Art (The Jam even had a song called “Pop Art Poem”), surrealism and even traditional British landscape painting influenced his album cover designs. His visual representations of his music highlight the depth and breadth of Weller’s artistic vision.
Paul Weller: Roy Lichtenstein Fan
Did you know that Paul Weller is an admirer of the Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein and his art? As well as penning the song ‘Pop Art Poem’ with The Jam (which features on the Deluxe Edition of their 1980 album Sound Affects), he has also previously played live with a Lichtenstein ‘Whaam!’-covered guitar. View my Paul Weller painting here and read my in-depth study of Roy Lichtenstein and his Pop Art style here.
Capturing Paul Weller in my Signature, Jackson Pollock-inspired By Kerwin Style
In summer 2019, while in the early stages of developing my pop art-influenced painting style, I painted Paul Weller in a stunning orange composition. This one was painted in Singapore while I was living there – and Weller was actually just the fourth face in my collection, after The Beatles and the Gallagher brothers.
The vibrant orange colour scheme I chose for this Jackson Pollock-inspired painting was largely taken from The Style Council. Orange is a colour they are often associated with, with their logo appearing in orange across much of their artwork. Their third album, 1987’s “The Cost of Loving” also famously featured a completely orange album cover.
Why is The Style Council’s ‘The Cost of Loving’ album cover orange? What does the colour represent?
The orange album cover of The Style Council’s “The Cost of Loving” represents the band’s bold and vibrant approach to music and style. The colour orange symbolises creativity, enthusiasm and energy, which aligns with the album’s soulful and upbeat sound. It serves as a visual representation of the album’s themes of love, passion and the joy of embracing life’s pleasures.
However I’m not sure Paul Weller himself was much of a fan of the brightly coloured cover. In a 1998 interview with Uncut Magazine, when asked if it was intended as “a citric version of The Beatles’ White Album”, Weller replied, “The only thing I can say in its defence is that it’s in some book as one of the top 100 album sleeves”. Still, as anyone who has seen my neon sign of my logo knows, I like the colour orange!
Another influence of Paul Weller on By Kerwin was for the title of my blog. ‘Confessions of a Pop Artist’ is adapted from The Style Council song, “Confessions of a Pop Group”.
Summing Up – Paul Weller’s Artistic Evolution: That’s Entertainment
In conclusion, Paul Weller’s artistic image has undergone a remarkable evolution throughout his career, transitioning from a punk icon to a multifaceted musician with an extensive repertoire. His album cover artwork has played a crucial role in documenting this evolution, visually capturing the essence of each phase and showcasing Weller’s artistic growth.
From the raw energy of The Jam to the sophisticated experimentation of The Style Council and the introspective depth of his solo work, Paul Weller’s artistic journey has left a lasting mark on the music industry, firmly establishing him as an icon of British music.
What is your favourite Paul Weller song? View and shop prints of my Paul Weller pop art painting here
Explore my full range of music-themed, Jackson Pollock-inspired pop art paintings and canvas prints at www.bykerwin.com. Prints are priced from £35 – £75, with fast worldwide delivery.
You can also follow my art progress on Instagram and Facebook. Read my other blog posts on the topic of how music and art collide here.