In his twenty-five year career as an artist, Howard Finster completed approximately forty-seven thousand works, all of which he hoped would spiritually save the owner. Finster was born in Alabama in 1916 and began preaching at revivals and various local churches by the age of sixteen. In the early 1960s he moved with his wife and five children to Pennville, Georgia, where he began creating his Paradise Garden, an environment that would eventually be filled with his creations and even serve as the setting for the rock band R.E.M.'s debut music video. His paintings have been used as cover art on albums by several music artists, including the Talking Heads and R.E.M.
In 1976, Finster was called to paint after seeing a vision of God in a paint smudge on his finger. Soon after, he retired from teaching and worked furiously to produce pieces, many of which went to curious visitors of his Paradise Garden. His subjects ranged from self-portraits to religious figures to secure subjects such as Elvis Presley and Henry Ford. Finster, who often referred to himself as a "Stranger from Another World" and a "Man of Visions" was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1982. He died in 2001.