Art Paul was born on January 18, 1925 on the southwest side of Chicago. His family later moved to Rogers Park, where he attended Roger C. Sullivan High School. It was there that his art teacher recognized his talents and entered his work into a scholarship competition for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Paul won this scholarship and attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1940 to 1943, until volunteering for the Air Corps Service during World War II. After his service, he went on to attend the Institute of Design, now a part of Illinois Institute of Technology.
In 1953, while working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator in Chicago, Paul was contacted by Hugh Hefner, who was looking for an art director for his magazine. "I at first hesitated to accept [Hugh Hefner's] offer. For as a freelancer, I had the best clients one could in Chicago. So I freelanced the first few issues. What convinced me to accept was that I was promised freedom to buy the kind of art most illustrators couldn't sell in 1953, the personal visions that lay closest to their hearts. I told illustrators I don't want 'commercial' art. I want the kind you do to please yourself when you're not trying to get work in a magazine. At first they thought I was kidding. As for fine artists, I convinced them they would not be selling out to work for us but would reach a larger audience with their most authentic work."—Art Paul.
From there, Hefner and Paul went on to create the first issue of Playboy, with Paul leading the magazine’s artistic design. Paul continued working as an art director for the magazine for 30 years, and within that time, the magazine garnered hundreds of awards for excellence in graphic design and illustration. Paul is even recognized as a leader of, what Print magazine has called, the “Illustration Liberation Movement,” by breaking the status quo and elevating the way we view graphic design and illustration as an art. He is even known for stating that “Good design principles should apply to bubble gum wrappers as well as museum posters.”
Paul currently lives in Chicago, where, for the last ten years he has focused his attention on drawing and painting, with much of his work being exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center and Columbia College in Chicago. He has also spent his time serving on boards for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Association of Art Curators in Chicago, and the Illinois Summer School of the Arts.
2015 - Art Paul: Hard Heads, Sweet Knees, Fork Tongues
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, Illinois
Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
2001 – The Manuscript Illuminated
Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
1997-1998 - Art Paul: Inner Faces
Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois
2008 – Fellow of the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Artists
Outstanding Achievement in Trademark Design
The Society of Typographic Arts
1986 – Hall of Fame of the Art Directors Club
Herb Lubalin Lifetime Achievement Award
Society of Publication Designers
1983 – Professional Achievement Award
Visions: Art Paul
The Art of Playboy