Art Paul, Art Director Who Gave Playboy Its Look, Dies at 93

The New York Times | Richard Sandomir

Art Paul, a graphic artist who helped Hugh Hefner define the look of Playboy magazine from its inception by drawing its rabbit logo and hiring great illustrators to lend worldliness to its pages, died on Saturday in Chicago. He was 93. Suzanne Seed, his wife, said the cause was complications of pneumonia. Mr. Paul was a freelance graphic artist with a studio in Chicago when Mr. Hefner met him in 1953, several months before Playboy’s first issue.

“He comes in and sees all the things on the wall — the commercial stuff I was doing as well as the more personal things — and he says, ‘Is that your work or work you like?’ And I said, ‘It’s both,’ ” Mr. Paul said in an interview with the director Jennifer Hou Kwong for her coming documentary about him, “Art of Playboy.” Mr. Paul quickly became the fledgling magazine’s art director as it shifted from its original name, Stag Party (which was dropped before its debut), to Playboy. He designed the inaugural cover, a photo of Marilyn Monroe set against a stark white background, and replaced the original logo (a stag in a smoking jacket) with a silhouetted rabbit wearing a tuxedo bow tie. The rabbit later became the symbol of the Playboy empire…read more

Image: Art Paul in Playboy’s offices in Chicago in the early 1980s. He originally envisioned the rabbit head as a stylized end point to articles. It became the Playboy empire’s trademark. Suzanne Seed.