Artist, writer, philanthropist and creative soul dedicated to lighting up your life with art and creative inspiration. A contemporary artist who specializes in pop culture subjects.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m a recovering programmer and graphic designer currently in the throws of a midlife crisis. A crappy one since I still don’t have a muscle car or motorcycle to show for it.
I studied illustration and graphic design at Sheridan College in Oakville but when I graduated, I jumped head first into the emerging multimedia industry. This was in the 90s. The internet was new. Interactive CDs were a fad. For a nerd like me, it was heaven.
It’s funny now to be a painter because that was never my thing until recently. I always found painting difficult and focused more on media like chalk and pencil crayon. I dreamed of being a painter but for the longest time I couldn’t get it together.
In school I studied printmaking, ceramics, painting, drawing and more. My skills run the gamut.
At this point I’d call myself a fine artist with one foot firmly planted in commercial art. I’m comfortable being a business, creating art to spec and dealing with clients. I also like to just create for the sake of creating.
For people in the Supernatural fandom, I’m the official painter for www.IMAlive.org If you’ve ever gone to a Supernatural convention then odds are you’ve seen my work in person.
What is the first memory you have connected to creating art?
I’m going to discount my childhood memories because kids just naturally create art. A LOT of art. It doesn’t usually mean anything. But I remember being in high school and joining the art club there. Spending my free time drawing and just deliberately perfecting my skills.
I don’t even remember making a conscious decision to pursue art, to be honest. I’d wanted to work in special effects, inspired by Star Wars, so I think that’s what tipped me over into creating art on purpose.
How did you get started in the art world?
In the last few years of my tech business, I started having an itch to not only create art but to sell it too. I was terrified though because I knew I was in a fragile place. Someone’s hate could have easily just shut me down.
My friends, especially one friend, insisted that I needed to share my work. Every time I posted, there was a team of cheerleaders rah-rahing. Over time, I became anti-fragile and went from a tiny following to a good sized one.
I started by creating a body of work and the places to show and sell it just appeared. Comiccons, pop up galleries… I said yes to every opportunity.
How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
I paint emotion. Whether it’s portraits or abstract work, my goal is always to evoke a response in my viewers. A strong response.
I’m learning that I need to grow and change as an artist as I go so I’m no longer restricting myself to just portraits or just pop culture.
What mediums do you work with?
The bulk of my work is acrylic on canvas or wood. I’ve got a body of work in encaustic as well. I’m now playing with resin, mixed media and ink. I’ve got plans for watercolor pieces too and I signed up for an oil painting class.
What is your WHY?
I want to connect with people. I spent my life feeling like I didn’t belong. Invisible at times. Without value at times. Creating art is my way of connecting. Sharing my emotions, making people feel in response.
I thought I was creating a legacy but it turns out I don’t care about legacy. Other people will decide that after I’m gone. I’m creating connection in the moment.
Will my pop art pieces matter in ten years? Maybe? But in the moment they have impact and a punch.
What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I’m a pop culture junkie so I’m inspired by what’s going on in North American tv and movies. Hello Avengers! But beyond the surface, I like to dig deeper. What are the trends? What are the stories we’re telling about ourselves? All pop culture is a reflection of our culture in general and that fascinates me.
What is the most profound experience you’ve had as an artist in your life?
Right at the beginning, when I decided I needed to give this art thing a go. I spent a month creating a body of work and when that was done I had no idea what to do next. And opportunities just fell into my lap. Shows, comiccons, even a rep.
The first one was crazy though. So, I get this email from a local comiccon telling me that they had some vendors pull out and would I be interested in showing with them?
Now you need to know that I NEVER applied to be a vendor. I was toying with the idea but it wasn’t on my radar.
I had 9 days to pull my shit together. And those 9 days had Thanksgiving right in the middle. I’d never worked at a comiccon either, though I’d attended a ton.
That yes, even when the whole thing was insane, changed everything for me.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
I’m about to start a series of giant portraits from Avengers Infinity War. While I can paint big (huge!) I’ve never filled a giant canvas with a giant head. That’s going to be fun.
Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events?
No. I burned out from doing gallery work and the comiccon circuit. I’m just chilling and selling work on the internet.
Where can people see/buy your work?
I’m also on Twitter and Instagram @paulamould
Fair warning that Twitter is full of terrible puns and dad jokes.
Any advice for emerging artists?
No one cares.
And while that seems cruel, it’s actually freeing. Share your work even when it’s scary because no one cares. Not as much as you do. Unless you’re exceptionally controversial, people won’t be passionate about your art in any way. I spent all my time worrying about haters but the reality is I didn’t have many. People are busy and distracted so they’ll like your work and move on. Or like it and buy it.
No one cares is the ultimate freedom.
Words to live by… a favourite quote or motto?
“If you’re not living the life that you want, you fight for that life.” – Jensen Ackles
How we live, how we suffer or not is something we chose. So if we can choose crappy or mediocre, then we can choose awesome too. The real choice is do you want to complain about your life or make it into something incredible?
Thank you for sharing with us Paula!
Paula Mould is the official painter for IMAlive – An Online Crisis Network
IMALIVE is a service of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center (KBHC), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Their focus is suicide intervention, prevention, awareness and education. They provide help and hope through online crisis chat, college campus and high school events and other educational programs.
Depression is treatable. Suicide is preventable.
interview by Ann-Marie Cheung