Legendary Musicians Who Have Little-Known Painting Side Careers

These people have too much talent.

By Frank Donovan

Many musicians are just plain artists, and perhaps could have made a name for themselves in any creative field. We’ve assembled a list of both expected and completely surprising instances of musical artists who also have a flair for painting. Check out the gallery for their work.

  • 1 Kim Gordon
    White Columns
    Gordon is an established visual artist and curator, and graduated from Otis Art Institute in L.A. after high school.

  • 2 David Bowie
    Getty Images
    Bowie went to art school and continues to paint and collect art.

  • 3 Patti Smith, Self Portrait (1971)
    MoMA
    Smith has always been more than a rocker—she creates drawings, poems, photographs, and installation work.

  • 4 John Lennon
    Getty Images
    Lennon nearly pursued a painting career in lieu of a music career with the Beatles.

  • 5 Jerry Garcia
    Garcia Weir Gallery
    The multi-talented Garcia was a prolific visual artist from an early age.

  • 6 John Mellencamp
    Mellencamp is another artist who had painting to fall back on if music didn’t pan out.

  • 7 Miles Davis
    You wouldn’t know it but Davis only began painting in his 50s.

  • 8 Joni Mitchell, Both Sides 1 (1999)
    Mitchell has said she considers herself first a painter, then a musician.

  • 9 Frank Sinatra
    Few know that Sinatra painted for decades, usually abstract forms.

  • 10 Dee Dee Ramone
    The Ramones’ bassist usually painted bright, cartoonish portraits.

  • 11 Paul McCartney
    John wasn’t the only Beatle painter.

  • 12 Cat Stevens
    Cat Stevens also pursued visual art before music, but always continued drawing. He drew this cover for Teaser and the Firecat, which was turned into a children’s book he illustrated.

  • 13 Marilyn Manson
    Marilyn Manson paints mainly watercolor portraits, which he exhibits around the world.

  • 14 Bob Dylan
    Mr. Tambourine Man’s paintings have been displayed at prestigious galleries like the Gagosian in New York City and Halcyon in London.