Maker Monday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Paul Montgomery

Paul Montgomery was born to be an artist. Over a lifetime of admiring the ever-changing beauty of art’s vast magnitude, he cherishes the history, techniques, and interpretations of all forms, especially Chinoiserie which is his main inspiration. From painting murals for celebrity homes and hotel lobbies, Paul recently decided to make his work more accessible to the general public; instead of exclusively purchasing from a showroom, you may now purchase his hand-painted then digitally printed pieces on his website. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Paul Montgomery.

Straight from his Endur Collection, Paul Montgomery has painted a piece called “Enchanted Garden Silver” which was featured in this perfectly lit powder room.

Andrew Joseph: What was your first job?
Paul Montgomery: It’s a good question because in retrospect, my first job launched me into painting large. It was over 50 years ago, I was about 13 years old and living in Germany with my family. We lived in a three-story apartment building with a glass front where the stairwell was located. The neighbors asked me to paint them for Christmas. So I painted three huge Wise Men, one on each stairwell window in a stained glass effect. Tacky three-story high wise men. I tell my grandkids this story and they always fall asleep. Hey! Wake up! I’m still telling my story!

Andrew: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
Paul: Where do we start? People can be so creative and fun. Sometimes their imaginations can offer a challenge that’s easy to get excited about and other times one is left questioning their seriousness, or taste. I once had a request for a mural like the ancient pornographic murals found in Pompeii. Fortunately, that didn’t come through. Another client wanted the interior dome of his private 727 jet painted as a sky. This was in the early 90’s and he was way ahead of his time.

As a part of his panoramic collection, Chris was inspired to create Tropical Views in neutral hues and eye-catching fronds. Providing layers and depth, it features an abundance of jungle trees and wild palms.

Andrew: Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your specialty?
Paul: Ever since living in Europe as a teenage boy with an insatiable appetite, culinary adventures have always been on my plate. I would always order the most interesting dishes, only to have my family ask, “are you going to finish that?” With each new travel experience and restaurant visit, tastebuds I didn’t know I had would arise and cheer the newest introduction to my palette. Being stuck in creative mode for life, I had to try these alternatives to drawing and painting. Colors, textures, flavors, shapes and presentation took the place of art, or rather became art. My favorite thing to do was and still is to do something exotic with leftovers. Recycling food is so challenging and fun, trying to disguise last nights’ dinner as an original epicurean delight without anyone being the wiser. Casseroles are easy. Just layer things from previous meals, individually sliced and reworked and add some additional ingredients like tortillas or grilled zucchini and top it with colorful pepper slices and some cheese and bake for 35-45 minutes. It’s called Again-iolli, Redo-tortini, or whatever you want to call it. There is an endless variety of dishes that can be made. It’s just a matter of available ingredients and one’s imagination. Food for thought?

Andrew: What are three things you can’t live without?
Paul: Travel, travel and more travel. Having three favorite destinations may not be fair, or realistic. Or three favorite cultures, or three favorite cuisines. But the experiences to be had, the knowledge gained, and the appreciation of the amazing variety of options we have through travel makes it hard to decide which ones are favorites. Once you’ve been there you suddenly start to imagine another exotic port that’s calling your name. And once again, old wanderlust sings its siren song from some sandy shore far away and you just have to go. So much world, and so little time. Swoon….

The wallcovering gracefully placed around this dining area is of a Chinoiserie style. This modern wall decal takes inspiration from flowers and birds.

Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Paul: This is a loaded question. IF is the operative word. IF we’re still here, IF people still need interior design, IF our taste levels aren’t erased by designer robots, we may still want to surround ourselves with handcrafted, classical and timeless elements. These may be incorporated into hologram walls or materials yet to be invented. We should still need to sleep, dine and enjoy our friends and families, so furnishings will still need to be essential items in our lives. And as the very first interior decorator did thousands of years ago with cave wall painting, we’ll still need murals and wallpapers, even though they’ll be projected or personally imagined and created right from our cyborg minds. That is, IF we even have walls? I certainly hope so!

About The Maker | Paul Montgomery has been an artist his entire life, and has proven to be versatile and engaging in a broad range of mediums, styles and genres. Early paintings were copies of beloved old masters and the European schools. Still life studies and landscape painting were his favorite themes, and helped found his abilities at detail and realism. Chinoiserie was an inspiration after a visit to the Freer Gallery in Washington in his late teen years. This sparked a life-long love of the unique perspective of the sensitive interpretation of nature as seen in Asian paintings and screens. Upon moving to Los Angeles, Montgomery secured significant commissions, creating artworks for celebrities’ homes and hotels around the world. Montgomery wanted to make his art accessible to a wider range of people and began searching for cost-affordable solutions like hand-painted wall coverings that could be installed like wallpaper. This was still hard to access, as customers had to purchase from a showroom. The Mural Source is Montgomery’s most accessible project to date. His murals are hand painted then digitally printed, reducing costs, and the online platform circumvents customers’ need for a showroom or other middlemen.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here.

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