Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Roustan.
Paul, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Los Angeles artist, Paul Roustan, is known for his work in body painting and photography. Winner of the North American Body Painting Championships, Roustan is recognized as one of the world’s leading body painters whose style combines traditional fine art, pop culture, and reflections of the contemporary world to create conceptually-based body painting. An alumn of both the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Rhode Island School of Design, Roustan’s career spans both the fine art and commercial worlds. His work has appeared on media including, Spike TV, The Game Show Network, Sabado Gigante, the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Post, GQ, Playboy, Maxim, and galleries along the East and West coasts. His work has been acquired in over 200 private collections.
Having a lifetime fascination with the human body, Roustan explains:
“When I was around five years old, I was drawn to Barbie Dolls. I thought they were the most representational toy, and I could even make them nude.
Around age nine, my mother would drop me off at the library while she went to night school. I used to gather any books that contained nudity, and I would replicate them incessantly drawing them onto paper. When finished, I’d change the naked bodies to look like faces so I wouldn’t get in trouble for drawing nudies.
It occurred to me, over 20 years later as a professional body painter, nothing has changed. I’m still “playing with barbies” and navigating the taboos of nudity. It’s simply what I was meant to do.
With that said, I’m often criticized for exploiting women. In reality, I’m a soldier of the women’s empowerment movement. Locker room talk about the models I paint, who are my friends, annoys me. People see what they want to see and project what’s in their own head. The intention of the work is not to objectify the human body, but to celebrate the painted subject whether it’s a strong, confident, independent woman or a man. Everyone wants to be special, and what’s interesting is regardless of the height, weight, shape, size, the gender of the model, he/she is radiating with uniqueness. Once painted, I’ve witnessed some incredible transformations.
As an art form, there is no gray area with body painting, you either love it or hate it. But, no matter what, the viewer’s interest is always peaked.”
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I paint on people, and then I photograph them. The first time I painted someone, I was hooked. The thought of painting on canvas or paper bores me now, and I don’t care to do it. I love meeting the people I paint and then developing a relationship with them. They become family. In the photos, I like to tell a story, sometimes about them, sometimes just decorative, but every time to celebrate the person being painted. It is fascinating how different everyone is and how they glow when transformed.
I aim for people to look past the conditioned sexuality of the nude, and see the art and the person presented in my photographs, a strong independent human being. No one governs their decision to put themselves out there that way.
I like when the images tap into the viewer’s spirit, and they blurt out a big, “Wow!” completely capturing his/her attention. That’s when I know I succeeded in getting someone to see my intent.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
I think now is the finest time to become an artist. Social media has allowed for tremendous exposure and opportunity and networking. It’s enabled artists to share their experiences and learn from each other as well.
Resin Gallery in Hermosa Beach has taken the city by storm, presenting local artists in a beautiful environment that people want to attend. Traditionally, artists have shown work in run-down warehouses and affordable spaces that could actually repel patrons. It’s nice to have a spot that attracts people because it becomes a great night out.
More cities should help establish spaces like this to help drive the arts. Artists bring a lot of valuable culture and color to their hometowns.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I generally always have work available at Resin Gallery in Hermosa Beach, 618 Cypress Ave. Much of my work is visible at bodypainter.com and is available as photographic prints, and in a large hardcover book at bodypainter.com/book.
- Address: 618 Cypress Ave. hermosa beach, CA 90254
- Website: bodypainter.com
- Phone: 323-905-4954
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roustan/
Portrait photos: Wrong Ron, Rob Shum
models: Georgia Bryan, Shadia Elise, Leslie Heirtzler, Sawyer Croft