We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Richmond and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paul, why did you pursue a creative career?
As early as three years old, all I wanted to do was draw. I’d wake up early, sit at the dining room table, and make hundreds of crayon drawings before my parents woke up. When I got older and became the target of homophobic bullies at school, art became a life-saving tool for expressing emotions that desperately needed an outlet. I knew then that art would always be an important part of my life, and I’ve never imagined doing anything else.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I paint a little bit of everything, but primarily expressive, figurative paintings in oil. I love portraying people and trying to show something beyond the exterior. Painting is my way of processing the world. Looking back over my body of work so far, you see my story – the journey of a shy, Midwestern, closeted boy growing into a confident, curious, proud, queer artist and activist.

I am most proud of the authenticity I bring to my work. I’ve always painted what I felt, even when I knew it would be met with adversity. Just this summer, my painting of drag queen Nina West and her drag family caused an angry mob to protest in Athens, Greece because they thought it was horrifically sacrilegious (I depicted them as biblical figures).

I know the unapologetic nature of my work has closed some doors, but they have opened other, better ones. I’ve done commissions for Troye Sivan, Dolly Parton, and the first time I ever exhibited my work in LA over 15 years ago, the show was curated by RuPaul. Staying true to myself has made all the difference for me, and I would encourage other artists to do the same. Don’t worry about how it will be received – create art that says what you need to say. And have fun while you’re at it! One of the most popular things I’ve ever made was an offbeat adult coloring book of male-pinups called “Cheesecake Boys” that I made on a whim because I thought it would be hilarious. And in its own way, it does challenge some long-held societal constructs around gender and sexuality. People can contemplate that while they’re coloring all the cute butts in the drawings.

Honestly, if I was known for one thing, I would want it to be my belief that everyone is capable of artistic expression. I hope that people in my life see me as someone who is always encouraging them to see creative potential they might not have recognized. Art is vital in our society, and yet it’s the first thing that gets yanked out of school curriculums. That’s why my friend Melissa Forman and I started our own business called Art Makes Us, where we offer virtual learning opportunities for artists of all ages and experience levels. I want everyone to have the opportunity that I had as a child to discover and nurture their own creative passions.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My itinerary always revolves around art, so I’d take them to some of my favorite galleries like Corey Helford and Dark Art Emporium (the gallery that sold my Nina West painting after the international ruckus). Then we could visit one of the wonderful museums like The Getty, The Hammer Museum, or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Once their brains are completely saturated, then we’d head over to West Hollywood, starting at Revolver Video Bar (where we held the Cheesecake Boys Coloring Book launch party) and see where the night takes us from there!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I credit my parents for nurturing my artistic interest, even though it was a very foreign concept to them. They convinced a local artist named Linda Regula to take me on as a private student, even though she had never taught children before. I went to her studio once a week – and it was mesmerizing. Her vibrant paintings covered the walls and transported my imagination to magical, expansive places. I started oil painting with her at age four, and she taught me what it meant to be an artist. I will forever be grateful for that experience, and I do my best to pay it forward with my students today.

Website: paulrichmondstudio.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/paulyworld

Twitter: http://twitter.com/paulrichmondart

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/paulrichmondstudio

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/paulrichmondstudio

Other: Art Makes Us website: http://artmakesus.com

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