Paul Carrick invites you into a spellbinding world where fantasy melts into reality and imagination takes hold. It‘s a mystical place where riddles lurk around dark corners and secrets whisper through leafless trees. Everything looks so perfectly strange and eerily beautiful. And like an unsolved mystery waiting for final resolution, you feel compelled to spend time and piece the story together.
Paul is a very talented artist who illustrates to and of his heart’s content. Throughout his life imagination never ran dry because it was always in his blood. During childhood, his artistic parents and creative environment fostered his own interests with the fantasy genre. Paul went from playing Dungeons & Dragons as a young boy to illustrating for them as an adult. His background, talent and passion propelled him into a successful professional life.
ArtVenue was struck with awe and intrigue, and we couldn’t wait to learn a bit more about such an incredible artist and illustrator.
Home is where the heart is-where is home for you?
My current “home” home is Boston, but my heart is more often found in northern Vermont. All of my childhood summers were spent up there, I love the untouched forests and the slower-paced life.
What are the last two books you have read and the latest movie you’ve seen?
The Shrinking Man, by Richard Matheson; The Mission of Art, by Alex Grey; for movies it’s Rise Of the Planet of the Apes. A great deal of what I read is instructional… how to make such-and-such, etc. It might not be as exciting as most literature, but the knowledge and what that can get me certainly is.
“I sometimes just paint without any sketching or planning, and from the abstract shapes I try to pull out things I see in them.”
How and when did you discover yourself to be an artist? What compels you to art?
I grew up in an artistic family, my father was a painter/illustrator, my mother is a writer and even my brother and extended family have pursued creative fields. It’s hard to pinpoint a certain time of realization, as that environment was around me from the very start. I was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, and at the time (before it’s been so overdeveloped) it was a pretty quiet place and not so much happening during the colder months. Art was how I entertained myself as a child, and I suppose it just grew with me. As high school came closing to an end it was time to think about college, art seemed the obvious choice, and I guess that decision may have solidified that path.
What compels me? It is an urge of some sort, I can almost feel a bit anxious or fidgety if I haven’t created something in a while. I get an inspiration and it starts growing in my mind- perhaps like a mystery for a detective- and it is hard to ignore.
What are a few things on your artistic bucket list?
With the advent of convenient self-publishing I suppose it is a less lofty goal than it was some years back, but I have wanted to put out a book of my art. I discovered a lot of my favorite artists through their books- “the Art of So-and-so”, and I enjoyed seeing the style and concepts develop, they often also had interesting biographical sections which enriched my connection with the work. They showed me different ways I could be an artist and relate to my art. It sounds like fun to experience this from the other side.
I often find myself in an internal dialog when I paint, as if I was explaining my actions to an observer or student. I wonder if I would enjoy teaching and have toyed with the idea of trying it.
I heard Picasso would pay for a lot of his bills by doodling a sketch, I think that would be a rather useful ability.
“Since childhood I have been fascinated with otherworldly creatures, monsters, animals, dinosaurs…. I guess beings with very unusual perspectives and different kinds of lives.”
Where did you learn the skills and gain the knowledge you, as an artist, posses today?
Much came from absorbing the artistic activity going on in my home, I would see my dad painting and drawing as well as witnessing the publishing experience first hand. A lot of the tools of the trade were rather commonplace to me. After high school I attended the Rhode Island School of Design for a more formal education, I majored in illustration.
What is art to you? What is art for you? Why create it?
This is something I am still discovering, or perhaps the function is still evolving (and I hope it continues to do so), but I would say it has something to do with personal growth and it being a nearly unlimited forum for exploration. The subject matter is one obvious part, how do I feel about the concept behind a painting- how does it reflect in others? What do I learn from this? I think the discovery comes on other less obvious levels as well, and more recently it seems to be about unearthing all the personal rules I seem to have subconsciously adopted for my art. For example, I was mixing paint on a palette and was about to apply it to the surface… I then stopped and the internal voice said “you don’t use that color!” Says who? I thought this was fascinating, I had evidently identified myself with certain colors and had been strictly enforcing it for some unknown reason. Well, I used the forbidden color as I thumbed my nose to that voice- it was very liberating! I felt like an invisible wall had been torn down and the world got a little bigger. Sometimes it feels like the process of creating art is as much an allegory for life as the finished image and what it communicates.
“I often find myself in an internal dialog when I paint, as if I was explaining my actions to an observer or student.”
What is your creative process, typically?
I definitely must be in the right mood, no doubt about it. If I am feeling negative I’ve found it is best to not work on my current project if it is something special, I may ruin it out of carelessness or spite. It’s the same with energy levels, I can hit a point when I know that if I keep on working my decision making will be less careful and thoughtful and I could risk ruining my work. It’s best to just walk away unless it is a tight deadline. Afternoons and evenings seem to work best for me, though I’ve never been the one to pull all-nighters- nothing good has come out of that for me. A couple hours, then a break to keep my mind fresh works best, then I can return to the piece and hopefully see it with new eyes. I often use music and tend to prefer an undisturbed low traffic area.
Your work is fantastic and fantastically surreal. Where/what/who do you gather and/or seek your inspiration from?
Thank you! Since childhood I have been fascinated with otherworldly creatures, monsters, animals, dinosaurs…. I guess beings with very unusual perspectives and different kinds of lives. I was perhaps around nine when I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and the game (and especially the illustrations) were really eye opening and inspiring, it’s no surprise that I ended up working for the same publishers who inspired my years earlier. Since then (and we’re talking mostly about paintings which are not illustrations with clearly defined parameters), a lot of my ideas seem to come more out of thin air- stream of consciousness I suppose.
“Sometimes it feels like the process of creating art is as much an allegory for life as the finished image and what it communicates.”
I sometimes just paint without any sketching or planning, and from the abstract shapes I try to pull out things I see in them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing other artists’ works, but for some reason I am rarely seeking it out. Perhaps I’m just more curious to see where my own pure urges will take me, as in school I felt too influenced by others work and it felt quite impersonal.
Last exhibition or gallery you visited?
On Halloween I went to the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation (Waltham, MA) to see the “Steampunk Halloween Extravaganza”. I specifically went to see the Steampunk jewelry created by House of Coniglio, but there were lots of other great works there as well.
Pick your own favorite piece on ArtVenue. What is it of, why is it your favorite and what does it mean to you?
I think it would be “Cthulhu Wizard“. It makes reference to the creations of writer H.P. Lovecraft, whose subjects have become a bit of a specialty of mine. This character is deep in meditation, concentrating on ancient and alien principles- and they’re obviously influencing him. Besides it being a fun piece to paint and look at, it was one of those opportunities when the publisher gave me free reign and I just ran with it. I wrote above about breaking down personal walls, I think this was one of my more successful attempts at this- it feels more purely me than most of my paintings. I am currently developing a painting that follows in this theme.
Are there any projects you are working on right now that you can’t wait to finish and share? Any other mediums/genre you would love to explore and experiment with?
I alluded to the follow-up painting to “Cthulhu Wizard” which I am very excited about, I’ve even built a model for reference. It will be a CD/LP cover for the band Cruxiter out of Texas. In recent years I have been doing more art for musicians which I have come to love. Not only does it allow me to interact with the music scene, but I have found working for other creative people to be very pleasant and rewarding. They are sympathetic to the creative process and seem more interested in letting me run wild with my own enthusiasm- just how they would prefer their own music coming more purely from themselves.
I’ve dabbled in a lot of media over the years, and I wondered about spreading myself too thinly so I have tried to reign things in for a while and see what happened with a little more focus. I often feel the lure of new media, and if I had the time and space to learn a new one it would likely be oils. I’ve mostly used acrylics because they are fairly benign and dry very quickly- which is useful for tight deadlines. But, I am jealous of the blend-ability of oils and the ease of softer edges.
“I heard Picasso would pay for a lot of his bills by doodling a sketch, I think that would be a rather useful ability.”
What is some advice you could give to budding artists, hopeful to make a name for themselves or looking to build a portfolio?
I’ll guess that they are doing this for their love of art and not purely for the commercial gains, and if this is the case I would suggest them to follow their own voice as much as they can. I think if people can discover that undiluted form of their art and pursue it all the way, good things will come from it.
Trying to build a portfolio of what you think they want (as opposed to what you know you want) is just going to lead you down a road you’ll wish you hadn’t walked. Let’s say they really like the painting you did only to please them, they’re going to ask you to do more and more of this… at some point you’ll be wondering how you got there and why it’s not fun anymore. Only show them what you want to be asked to do again, don’t let them choose your direction.
ArtVenue would like to thank Paul for giving us some of his time and thoughts. We are very excited to have him on ArtVenue – welcome to the family!