Raj S. Paul is a self-taught, multi-award winning artist whose bronzes can be found in galleries the world over. His work has been exhibited at the Dallas Safari Club Annual Convention for more than 10 years.
Before we get to your art, tell us how you “thumbed” your way from India to the U.S.? How old were you and what made you decide to come?
At 19, a friend and I decided to seek our fame & fortune in the West – we took a ship from Bombay to Iraq, by rail to Istanbul and hitch-hiked from there into Frankfurt. That was my first interaction with Americans who convinced me to come here.
You started your wildlife art designing taxidermy forms at Precision Mannikins Inc.. Tell us about that. What did you learn there that helped you to be the artist you are today?
I started Precision Mannikins in 1990, mainly to write-off my hunting. I traveled all over the world hunting, photographing and measuring over a 140 species. I would ship entire skeletons back to Houston and my two sculptor employees would use them to make forms for the taxidermy industry. Undoubtedly, this in-depth study of wildlife has guided my artworks today.
Tell us what was involved in making the leap from taxidermy designer to renowned artist. What made you decide to take the plunge?
I sold Precision Mannikins in late 2000 & played golf almost daily – got pretty good too, playing to a six handicap. About a year or so later, after 10 days of non-stop rain I was going stir-crazy. It occurred to me I ought to try sculpting since I had watched two excellent artists for years on end – maybe I too, could do it. I headed to the art supply shop, bought some clay, bought some tools and the rest is history.
Are there any animals you’ve yet to use as subjects for your work? Any you’d never consider?
I would someday like to do primates – I think they’d make excellent art studies. I’ve had my share of weird requests, ranging from comical to creepy to downright bizarre. “No sir, I will not do a group of mutts playing poker.”
Ha! Good call. Your work has garnished several awards. What is your most recent?
The end of last month found me exhibiting at the “Sculpture in the Hills” Art show in Hill City, SD which lies about 15 miles from Mt. Rushmore. I took First Place in the Peoples Choice award for my sculpture “The Arrogance of Rome.” Incidentally, this piece was commissioned by DSC life members Sue & Ray Paolucci in 2011.
Last question: What do you like best about being a member of Dallas Safari Club?
I love the membership of DSC – they are an incredible group of big-hearted people who have done so much for conservation and the sport of hunting. I will also never forget that when I was first starting out, DSC gave me, an unknown artist, the opportunity to create their most prestigious Peter Capstick Award – I don’t believe I let them down.
Visit Wild Arts by Raj S. Paul here