Pete McKee was born in 1966. It was the year England won the World Cup, but also the year that his beloved Sheffield Wednesday lost the FA Cup. Perhaps it is this bittersweet beginning that has given rise to some of Pete’s most poignant work, images that can make you laugh out loud or break your heart. His dad Frank was a former steelworker who retired after an industrial accident and his mum Marjorie worked part time at a bakery. Pete sadly lost his mother to cancer at a very young age, and his parents’ influence on his work is clear in paintings such as ‘The Longest Walk’ and ‘Cockles in Castle Market’.
Growing up on a Sheffield council estate throughout the 1960’s and 70’s has become the inspiration for much of Pete’s work. His relationships, his childhood, his passion for music and his wonderful self-deprecating humour come together to create evocative images that have earned him a worldwide following. His home city of Sheffield also provides a constant source of inspiration, with exhibitions such as ‘The Joy of Sheff’ and ’22 Views of Sheffield’ celebrating all that is great and good about the city.
Pete’s love of music is clear in his work and he is a proud member of ukelele band and Sheffield institution The Everley Pregnant Brothers, alongside occasional DJ slots. Pete is a proud patron of The Sheffield Children’s hospital’s arts charity Artfelt, and designed a sell-out range of Christmas cards for them December 2013.
Collaborations and Friends
Pete’s iconic style has led to a growing international fanbase, taking in the great and the good. Noel Gallagher, himself a fan of Pete’s work, chose Pete to design tour posters for Oasis, along with work for his own solo shows and charity posters for The Teenage Cancer Trust. Pete has since collaborated with designers and artists including Disney, ACME Studios and The Arctic Monkeys.
In 2010 Pete was invited to design a limited edition pair of Clarks Desert Boots, using the original style template and giving it a McKee makeover. The boots were a sell-out worldwide success with stockists in Japan, London and New York.
Later that year Pete was approached by internationally renowned designer Paul Smith, with a view to staging an exhibition of his work at his flagship Tokyo store. To commemorate this collaboration selected images were reproduced on Paul Smith clothing and bags specifically for the Japanese market. Since then Pete has designed several t-shirts for Paul and continues to work with him to this day.
2012 saw Pete being invited to take part in a special project from Warp Films, celebrating its 10th birthday. Pete was asked to re-create 10 posters from 10 of their iconic films, including Dead Man’s Shoes, Submarine and This is England.