Paul Chatem was born in 1974 in Bellevue, Washington. .” He spent most of his time hunting snakes and scorpions in the Tujunga Wash, exploring ruins of forgotten ranches, shantytowns, and asylums, and ducking punches at punk shows with his friends. Chatem graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1997, and initially showed his work in coffee shops and group shows around Los Angeles. During that time he had two styles of work, clean lined ink work and surreal oil paintings.Growing up in an environment where nature, history, and the impoverished were constantly being pushed aside to make room for golf courses and mini-malls, Paul developed a keen talent for representing the rift between rich and poor, the working man and the boss man, in his surreal, often nightmarish, narrative paintings.
Over the past year, Chatem has “changed gears” and taken his artwork in a new direction. “It began with the idea of incorporating his woodworking skills and interest in antique mechanical toys with his storytelling ability and narrative structure used to create a series of paintings – and has evolved into an adventurous, interactive and unforgettable style."
Chatem's folksy, yet modern illustration style is deeply rooted in vintage advertising, comic books, and animation. His finished pieces are subtly aged and worn, creating the sense that they could have just as easily been constructed in the 1920s as much as they are very characteristic of the times we live in now. is current works focus on a series of large- and small-scale kinetic pieces that invite curiosity and interaction. By simply turning a crank, Chatem's hand-cut wooden gears spring to life, and the viewer is able to manipulate the composition and create movement within his vivid, carefully painted scenes.
Major influences in his creative life include Max Fleischer, E.C. Segar, Tom Waits, Charlie patton, The Cramps, and a host of early advertising illustrators. He has been honored to show his works at the Shooting Gallery, SF; Copro, Black maria, C.A.V.E., and Dialect Galleries in Los Angeles; Feinkunst-Krueger Gallery, Hamburg, Mondo Pop and Dorothy Circus, Rome; as well as numerous group shows in Europe and North America.Paul is currently hiding out in the fog-bound sierra foothills with his tortoises, the mud, and the bugs.