05 Dec Inspiring Interview with Artist Zoe Pawlak

Zoë Pawlak is a contemporary artist and designer working with private clients, interior designers, and select brands. Known primarily for her decade long career as a painter, Zoë’s rug collections, and furniture collaborations earned her a reputation as a notable, emerging designer. Zoë possesses a dynamic personality with a unique capacity to maintain a strong personal aesthetic.

Tell us more about your creative process.
I treat my time in my studio as a 9 to 5, with reasonable flexibility for my creativity to flourish. In studio, I listen to a lot of music. I put my headphones on and engage with the work. The rest of the time we are very much running a business in the studio with meetings and emails galore.

Did you always have a passion for art and product design?
Yes, I love art and reading and writing and product design has been a natural evolution as it is rooted in drawing.

You have a few different artistic styles. Sketches, mixed media, florals, realistic figures, abstract, contemporary. Do you have a favorite? How do you make decisions when it comes to styles, especially if creating for a specific client?
In custom work, the client and I decide on form and colour. I want my sketches, mixed media, florals, figures, and abstracts to be fresh and honest. When you look at my work, you can feel a sincerity and openness. My collectors and collaborators are attracted to my work for those qualities. As for medium, oil on canvas with acrylic underpainting achieves the highest brilliancy.

You got your start as a painter, how did you make the move to rugs, mirrors, textiles, and furniture collections?
It is a natural evolution of my artistic career. I wanted to bring something new to the market so these collections were born out of a curiosity to see what is possible.

How do you go about product design differently than your paintings?
My rugs, mirrors, textiles, and furniture have all been derived from my paintings. These product designs are very much influenced by my painterly sensibility. Painting has brought me to relationship with my individual clients, but it has also brought me to relationship with fellow designers, fellow artists, and fellow collaborators.

What are some of the challenges in regards to transferring your painting styles to interior products?
I’d call that an opportunity. I’ve never felt bound to a single medium or a single theme. Through the introduction of interior products, an example being my rug collection with Burritt Brothers., I’ve been able to explore the variations that are made possible by working in a new medium. It’s opened up an opportunity to connect with art buyers in whole new way.

You have a great eye for color. How do you make the choice when it comes to your color palettes?
I look at colours from nature or fashion. I print them off and put them up in my studio and let the colours seep in.

You’ve done quite a few collaborations for your product designs. How does adding another creative mind to the mix effect the process and final product?
By embracing collaboration – whether it’s through canvases, textiles, or rugs – a whole new body of work is born. For me, the connection to people is the most important part of the collaborative process. We respect each other, we always have a mutual agreement and the same work ethic and morals. This process is very exciting.

Where do you find inspiration?
One thing I’ve done in my life is mark the fabulous humans that I admire. I am most inspired by people whose careers are true to their aesthetic, values, and soul(s). Among others, two of my idols are MIA and Banksy. What I like about them is that they are risk-takers, and they use various mediums. They take political content to advocate for people who don’t have a larger voice. And, the ocean.

What’s next?  
I’m applying for some artist residencies and looking to see Europe with my family, I haven’t been since I was 18! I will be showing my rugs more often in 2018 and you will see some solo shows of mine coming up around North America as well.

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