Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind The Bunny

Art Paul with Hugh Hefner, 1956. Courtesy of Playboy

Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind The Bunny profiles the man who revolutionized the magazine industry through his role as art director.

When people think of the Playboy magazine, it’s not uncommon to think of nude women or founder Hugh Hefner.  The magazine started up in 1953 and would later grow into a full-blown brand in later years with the changing technology.  For the era in which the magazine begun, it would play an important role in the sexual revolution.  There’s more to Playboy than just the nudity.  There’s a lot of hard work that goes into the magazines–not just articles but how they get laid out in design.  It’s in this department in which longtime art director Art Paul would help revolutionize an industry.  Paul was not only there from the start but he also created the bunny logo associated with the company.

If Hefner was the public face, Art Paul was the behind-the-scenes face who did his job day in and day out.  It was his vision that helped play a role in how the artwork was laid out.  This was a role that Paul would take on for some 32 years of the magazine’s existence.  It was one that he did so with the freedom to experiment in any way he saw fit.

As the magazine’s art director, Paul was able to get some of the most famous artists of the era to contribute.  They didn’t even have to be internationally renown.  They could have been Chicago-based, too.  It’s because of Paul that Playboy was able to own the work rather than just licensing material.  Art Paul must have had some kind of foresight in this regard.  This practice was simply unheard of!  Yet, this enabled the company to not only support their work but amass a huge collection in the process.

Paul’s work at Playboy would influence other magazines, too.  Who would have thought that Hugh Hefner would play a role in the two-dimensional magazine revolutionizing their ways?  All because of a guy born in southwest Chicago!

Paul may have passed away earlier this year but director Jennifer Hou Kwong (Jian Ping) was fortunate enough to interview him before he passed.  We get insights from him that we might not have gotten from someone else.  There are also other interviews with those who knew or worked for him.  It would not be such a documentary without interviewing Hugh Hefner, who passed away in September 2017.  This helps us to paint a portrait of who is was not only as a person but as an artist, too.  The film doesn’t really add anything new to the genre although it doesn’t really matter in the long-term.

Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind The Bunny posthumously celebrates the life of the longtime art director.

DIRECTOR:  Jennifer Hou Kwong (Jian Ping)
NARRATOR:  Rick Kogan
FEATURING:  Art Paul, Suzanne Seed, Hugh Hefner, Christie Hefner, George Lois, Steven Heller, Brad Holland, James Goggin, Roy Schnackenberg, Bob Lostutter, Kerig Pope, Richard Hunt, Tanner Woodford, Alisa Wolfson, Max Temkin

Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind The Bunny screens during the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival as a Special Presentation. The film held its world premiere during the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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