Whitehead began her career as an illustrator in 1969, for Bill Wittliff’s Encino Press. Her work soon became widely known among collectors and lovers of fine printing. With her late husband, Fred, she established Whitehead & Whitehead Publishing Services, providing book and poster illustrations as well as book production and design. Such Austin-area book printers as David Lindsey, Thomas W. Taylor, and David Holman, and university presses at TCU, SMU, the University of New Mexico, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas, and others used their designs.
Barbara Whitehead’s work has a boldness and assertiveness about it that is peculiarly Texan, even when her subject matter is not about Texas. Among her favorite projects are Growing Up in Texas, a collection of reminiscences, David L. Lindsey’s The Wonderful Chirrionera and Other Tales from Mexican Folklore, and R. G. Vliet’s long poem, Clem Maverick: The Life and Death of a Country Singer. After research, she says, “I go off in another world somewhere and concentrate on the subject I’m working on, and while I’m driving off to the grocery store or something it comes to me.”
The Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos houses the Fred and Barbara Whitehead Collection, donated by the Whiteheads and Bill and Sally Wittliff. The collection contains posters, woodblocks and woodblock and linoleum prints, and work from Encino Press. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, she is a three-time winner of TIL’s design award.
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Published by Texas Christian University Press