Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Paul Richmond: Unspeakable Words

'I have been a busy boy this year creating covers for a slew of novels by Dreamspinner Press. I freelanced for them for several years, but ever since becoming their Associate Art Director last July, I've had the privilege of working with even more authors to help bring their novels to life.'

We have all heard the old saying 'You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover.' The Problem is, sometimes you can... Of course I don't believe we should judge anything, people especially, only by what is seen on the outside. Covers however, especially in the visual mediums like books, movies and television, are constructed specifically to have audiences form a quick and positive opinion in order to have them want to see more. Millions of dollars are spent on movie posters and tailors, television ads and commercials and book covers, both back and front, to get money from our pockets to theirs.

I have always had a fascination with the artistry of covers. In many ways, what is behind the cover is not as important as the enjoyment I get from the initial visual. When I was younger, I used to collect movie posters, TV Guide ads and book and magazine covers when the artistry made an impact of me. I remember distinctly having posters from movies I loved along side movies I didn't love so much, (Hook) mainly because of my love of the cover art.

As a wannabe writer, book covers hold a special place for me. The books that I choose to keep for the long haul are either books I plan to read again, books that were given to me as gifts and books whose cover art I want to display and continue to enjoy. I was recently looking an old post from 2011 that I wrote entitled A Little Escape. The cover of The Hardy Boys While The Clock Ticked, has always triggered something in me, and I am sure many who owned or read the book when growing up. I set out to write a new piece about cover art and was extremely lucky to come upon the cover for Shy.

I have not read author John Inman's novel Shy, but the cover art certainly had me stop and take notice and... want to make a purchase. As soon as I clicked on the image Shy, I was taken away to flickr were I spent next hour or so absorbed by the work of artist, activist and storyteller Paul Richmond.

'Sometimes when a city boy goes to the country, hilarity ensues. This illustration, the cover art for John Inman's novel Shy, gives the expression "down on the farm" a whole new meaning. Since this piece had all the elements of my Cheesecake Boys series - namely, a handsome pinup boy with his pants falling down - I thought it would make a great limited-edition print to add to my collection.'

I loved the sexy innocence, the tease of skin and the pants being pulled down. Paul's cover brought in so many themes I love within photography and art. Some of you I know share a love for these themes as well. Some like Pants Pulled Down, a theme I frequently explore on FH, and another, a theme that might be more unique, like my love animals incorporated within imagery. Paul's images mirror in many ways the way in which I like to present images of the male form, sexy of course, but also fun with a focus on story that triggers the viewers imagination. With or without opening the book, Paul's images tell a sexy, and also complete opening chapter leaving you wanting to read, and see, much more.

Paul Richmond graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design in 2002 and came out of the closet shortly thereafter. Since then, his artwork has become a vehicle for exploring and understanding his own journey, as well as developing a dialogue with other members of the LGBTQ community. Influenced by his own struggles as he came to terms with his sexual identity, he seeks to challenge social constructs that exist around sexual orientation and gender roles.

In his role as the Associate Art Director for Dreamspinner Press and their young adult imprint, Harmony Ink Press, he has created over two hundred and fifty novel cover illustrations. He teaches community art classes for Stonewall Columbus. He has volunteered with the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, encouraging LGBTQ teens to use art as a means of self-exploration and expression. He is a co-founder of the You Will Rise Project, an organization that empowers those who have experienced bullying to speak out creatively through the language, visual, and performing arts.
Info above from Paul

'This is one of my favorites because the photoshoot was a riot! I didn't have a sponge so the models had to use a squishy dog toy.'

'I’ve always been fascinated with pin-up girls from the 40’s and 50’s. On the surface, it was a more innocent time, but as we know, sexuality doesn’t like to be repressed. The over-the-top scenarios these artists dreamed up in order to get their models to “accidentally” bare a little skin is endlessly entertaining. It intrigues me that it was almost always women shown as hapless victims of undie-flashing circumstance, while male models were in complete control of their sexy shenanigans. I like challenging gender roles, so my Cheesecake Boys were born as a modern-day counterpoint to the classic Cheesecake Girls — and because it’s fun to paint cute guys with their pants falling down! I really enjoy doing the Advent illustrations. The second cover I ever did for Dreamspinner was Mistletoe Madness, and I love it to this day. What better way to get a cute guy’s attention under the mistletoe? We won’t say if I’ve tried that trick or not.'
Paul's Artist Spotlight on

'I want to wake up here! I loved developing the color scheme in this one.'

A big thank you to Paul for sharing his work with FH. I hope to feature much more of Paul's artistry in the future. If you want to see more, or purchase one of Paul's original images, be sure to check out the store on his website for much more of his work.

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