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May 02, 2018

Art Paul Dies At 93: Playboy Mag Art Director Created Iconic Logo

Art Paul, who was a freelance artist when he was hired by an aspiring magazine publisher named Hugh Hefner in 1953—and who went on to design the classic look of Hefner’s Playboy magazine—has died at a Chicago hospital. Paul was 93 years old. Though Paul created and oversaw the graphic design of the cover and every interior page of each issue of Playboy, his best-known accomplishment was creating the iconic Playboy logo, a silhouetted profile of a bunny wearing a tuxedo. But Paul quickly came to be regarded as an important figure in the art world for his innovative, even revolutionary approach to commercial graphic design. “The idea that Playboy was a sophisticated product, that’s all Art Paul,” former Details and New York magazine Design Director Robert Newman told Playboy.com. “He’s the one who gave Playboy its up-market, sophisticated and sensual feel.” “I set out to change illustration itself by pushing artists and illustrators to be more personal, expressive and innovative,” Paul said in an interview with Playboy.com. “I was guided by Playboy’s spirit of change and the idea that there should be no ‘high’ art or ‘low’ art, that good design could be applied to anything.” Though Playboy’s feature attraction was its monthly female nude photo spreads—Paul designed the magazine’s now-classic first issue featuring a nude image of Marilyn Monroe—Hefner gave Paul complete freedom to hire a wide range of artists and illustrators, including some of the biggest names in the art world, as well as young artists who would go on to their own successful careers. Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman, Shel Silverstein, Will Elder ("Little Annie Fanny"), Gahan Wilson and others all contributed artwork to Playboy under Paul’s leadership. "The magazine is given credit for the sexual revolution," former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, Hugh Hefner’s daughter, told The Chicago Tribune. "Art deserves the credit for the illustrator's liberation. He helped redefine the whole notion of commercial art as being able to be as well-regarded and legitimate as high art." Paul believed that, “good design principles should apply to bubble gum wrappers as well as museum posters,” he once said. In a 2015 interview with The Chicago Tribune, Paul said that it took him only about an hour to come up with the Playboy “bunny” logo, which made its debut with the magazine’s second issue. He said he originally intended the logo to serve as "a quarter inch high, sort of a friendly sign-off to articles.” But the tuxedoed bunny went on to become one of most recognizable corporate logos ever created, the equal of later creations such as “McDonald’s golden arches, Disney's Mickey Mouse, Apple's apple or Nike's swoosh,” according to the Tribune. Paul was born on January 18, 1925. He studied art at The Art Institute of Chicago and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He died on April 28 of this year. The cause was pneumonia, according to his wife, Suzanne Seed. He retired from his position of art director at Playboy in 1982. Photo via 'Art of Playboy' Documentary Screen Capture

 
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