Sobriety to Success: Canadian Artist Zoë Pawlak’s Oracle Deck and Personal Growth Journey

Published on March 8, 2024

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, we explore the global impact of women in diverse fields. Shaping the narrative and breaking barriers, women like Zoë Pawlak epitomize the transformative power of creativity and resilience. In line with the rising momentum of Canadian art on a global scale, the Vancouver-based artist and industrial designer speaks about the versatile aspects of her career, her newly launched Oracle Deck, and life post-sobriety discovering self-reflection and personal growth.

From her gallery in Kitsilano to gaining multinational recognition, her special talent lies in combining a personal style with authenticity, which is the foundation of her art. Believing in sharing stories and embracing collective truths through art, she has placed her creations in private collections of the Government of Canada, clothing retail company Club Monaco, and celebrities including Cobie Smulders and Cristina and Trevor Linden.

You play the roles of a visual artist, industrial designer, local entrepreneur, and speaker. Can you elaborate on how you seamlessly manage these diverse aspects of your career?

I knew early on that I could never be isolated to just a studio practice. I love people and business and have always wanted to have a multifaceted career. I want to indulge in my various interests and love being of service, so I created a career that is alternative to anything I had previously seen modeled by fellow artists.

The recent introduction of your Vessels and Muses Oracle Deck has garnered attention across Canada and the US! What was your creative inspiration for this endeavor?

Pairing my writing and art was a real dream of mine. I have been writing informally since I was 12. I wanted to find a feasible way to publish a formal piece of writing. The accompanying booklet in this oracle deck serves as a guide to support each card that is drawn. I thought up the deck about three years ago, but it took us a while to have the right team and bandwidth to be able to approach it with the amount of work and attention that this project required. The deck comes with journal prompts, and journaling has been a big healer for me. My hope is that the deck supports people in their journaling practice and self-reflection.

Converting abstract ideas into tangible and expressive paintings is a unique process. How do you approach this journey to bring your concepts to life?

It is very vulnerable to be an artist. I am thankful that about half of my work is commission-based, meaning I am painting things that I decide upon with my client. These are much less taxing on my psyche and soul and allow me to be of service to my clients. My goal is to relate one of my personal experiences to our collective, shared experience. My work is at its best when I am able to translate something very personal and have it speak to many who get to experience the art.

Please share the self-care practices you follow to fine-tune and sustain your creative energies.

Art work moves through a person in the same way that an athlete’s work moves through their bodies, we also have to take care of ours. I have been sober for 7.5 years and, through that process, have been able to learn and implement many practices that keep me well. I’ve had an incredibly hard three years and use exercise, cold plunging, meditation, and journaling as some of my favorite tools for staying well.

With a rich portfolio of artworks, do you have a particular painting that holds a special place for you?

My figurative works are very rare. They are autobiographical and tender. They tend to sell well because I think people are able to connect to it. I studied the nude rigorously for over a decade and the abstract figures are derived from a classical study of high realism.

You aim to support peoples’ intimate journey of self-discovery and growth. What helped you overcome some of life’s most challenging moments and emerge with perseverance?

Getting sober from alcohol has been the most transformative experience of my life. It has led me to an amazing community of sober humans and hobbies I never would have expected to get to experience in this lifetime. I have great parents and I think this has been one of the most formative and stabilizing pillars in my life. They are steady and continue to exercise and stay open minded and heal. This has really influenced how I approach life daily. I have persevered for my kids who are now older teens.

Someone said to me early on when they were little. “Let your kids be your reason, not your excuse,” and so I have dedicated my life to staying sober, helping other people with creative entrepreneurship and their own journeys. We all really need each other – now more than ever.

Safaque Kagdi is a Grit Daily Leadership Network member and a PR Consultant and Content Writer with 12 years of experience. She is passionate about startup stories, entrepreneurial journeys, leadership, business, rising artists and authors. She was recognized as one of the 2018 Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs by Silicon India magazine.

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