Illustrator of the Month - December 2010

Dear Blog, 
My new year's resolution is to post my Illustrator of the Month Column on time each month in 2011. Kisses, Jacquie

Illustrator of the Month December 2010

My selection of Arthur Paul this month comes as a result of a delicious Christmas gift I received from my dear friend S.V.Con.It is the collected issues of Playboy from the 1950's, and it includes a dvd rom where you can browse every issue, a lovely book and the first ever issue reprinted. It's amazing and I've only just grazed the surface checking it out.
as always, click to see full size

Arthur Paul was born in Chicago and was educated at the Art Institute. After serving in the war, he went on to the Institute of Design in Chicago, often called the "Chicago Bauhaus" where he studied with Bauhaus educator  László Moholy-Nagy. When he left in 1950, he was imbued with the idea that there was no such thing as high-brow and low-brow, that all arts were relevant and that his love for the canvas and illustration could be carried forward with equal importance. I personally relate to that idea deeply. He abandoned the idea of doing only one thing as an artist and started out quite successfully freelancing as an illustrator.
the first issue,art direction by Art Paul

He quickly grew frustrated with the dry and traditional world of advertising, so when Hugh Hefner came along and offered him the job of Art Director at a new magazine he was starting called Playboy, Paul jumped at the opportunity to start something new and groundbreaking. At the beginning, Hefner and Paul were the only two people working on the magazine. Art Paul led what Print Magazine called the "Illustration Liberation Movement," and in so doing, made Playboy the most visually exciting magazine of the day. His greatest challenge in buying art for Playboy was to convince illustrators to free up and to persuade painters that they weren't selling out.
arthur paul's illustration for the july '54 cover of playboy

At first this proved very difficult and much of the work printed in the magazine was his own. By doing so, he successfully began to blur a line between commercial and fine arts. Some of his design and layout techniques are still used in the publication to this day - one such example is the interview page where there is three photos of the subject with quotes above each shot.

With exception to the first issue, Art Paul-designed bunny head icon has appeared on every cover of the magazine (often hidden) and has become one of the most recognized icons used on thousands of products to great success. Perhaps its greatest success is the fact it can be recognized as the symbol of the magazine completely independent of the word "Playboy". More than just a logo this design has become a symbol of a lifestyle, an image and a worldwide brand.

art direction by arthur paul

Paul worked for Playboy  for thirty years, winning many awards including many Art Direction clubs, Typography associations and Illustration societies. He is seen as instrumental in advancing the art of illustration to new levels of importance and relevance as an art form.

I'm loving browsing through these issues from the 50's (which are pretty hard to come by at yard sales these days) because the statement "I read it for the articles" couldn't have ever been more true. I also read it for the design, fantastic illustrations and amusing advertising and of course the lovely photographs. I find them respectful of women, respectful of women's rights and issues and groundbreaking in terms of modern publishing.

Funny how we've moved forward so far in many ways in society as women, but in other ways have also gone backwards. Perhaps the Playboy magazine of today isn't exactly as I'd like it to be, not presenting the image I really relate to as much, but the history of the magazine to me is enough to make me forgive it some mistakes.

Sources included: Art Directors Club Hall of Fame
Learn more about Art Paul:
AIGA Profile
Chicago Institute of Technology Article
Eye (Int'l Review of Design Mag) Article

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