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Paulina Almira is a graphic designer and digital illustrator from the Philippines. Her dreamlike arrangements combine elements of technology, fashion, and the natural world to build surreal, playful compositions with retro-futurism as an overarching theme..

H+: Graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts, did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

Paulina Almira: I've always known I wanted to pursue a creative career. I never saw myself doing anything that wasn't design-related. Graphic design in particular I've been doing as a side hustle for years but only decided to pursue it full-time in early 2021.

H+: What is your favorite thing about being a freelance graphic designer and digital illustrator?

Paulina Almira: Apart from being able to monetize my biggest passion, it's owning my time and being able to incorporate my signature style into the projects I choose to take on. Clients approach me because they resonate with my style which makes my job so much easier because I'm doing my own thing, not working within the constraints of someone else's design system. Being able to work from anywhere I want is great too!

H+: What moment for you as an artist felt like your best achievement?

Paulina Almira: Selling an NFT at my first ever auction felt surreal. That's a close second to when I finally felt I had developed a style that was unique to me and having people recognize it without even seeing my name attached.

H+: Your work is shiny, luxurious, and dreamy, but also includes some darker tones. From where do you draw your inspiration?

Paulina Almira: As a kid I loved Barbie and Bratz dolls, the color pink, lavish dresses, the Powerpuff Girls, and anything sparkly. At the same time I loved reading horror fiction, dark fantasy and steampunk novels, and was fascinated by anything weird, unnatural, even morbid. It came as a surprise to me that I was able to reconcile these seemingly contradicting areas of interest in my illustrations. The combo felt unexpected yet came to me totally naturally, and that's where I happily found my sweet spot.

H+: A constant in your artwork is eyes, snakes, flowers, and mirrors. What do the objects mean to you?

Paulina Almira: Individually they don't mean anything in particular, but I use them as motifs because of the feel they lend my work. I love the eyeball as a motif because it's piercing and completely out of place - an eyeball belongs in its socket, not in a glass of whisky or in the palm of your hand. It makes you a little uncomfortable but at the same time you can't stop looking. It immediately turns a piece surreal. Snakes add tension and mystery to what would otherwise be quite romantic subjects - a sculpture of Venus or a pearl, for example. Mirrors add dimension and when used correctly they can also turn a subject surreal. Flowers are just beautiful!! When a subject feels a little stiff or cold, flowers add a warm softness to it, also contributing to the tension I like to keep present across my work.

H+: What tools or software do you use to create your work? Has that changed over time?

Paulina Almira: I used to do traditional art - acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pencil. I was good at all of it but was put off by how much time and effort it took to set up materials and maintain physical supplies in order to create art. When I started using Illustrator, I never looked back. I've been using Illustrator and Photoshop almost exclusively since.

H+: What other techniques or styles would you like to explore as an artist?

Paulina Almira: 3D and motion graphics.

H+: How has your experience with NFTs been? Where do you see the future of NFTs headed?

Paulina Almira: It was like discovering a new planet that I needed to live on immediately. NFTs are gaining traction so quickly, the most visible result of which is of course financial gain for artists and greater value attached to the provenance of a piece. I think when the concept eventually becomes as mainstream and widely adapted as social media or music streaming, there will be a great number of opportunities to incorporate NFTs into business models. While NFTs will guarantee both the business and the artist royalties for life, they also foster an appreciation for digital art in communities where it didn't necessarily exist before. On a personal level, I have friends coming to me excited about the money they're making flipping NFTs which is good, but a trend I see is that after a while, they start collecting simply because they've connected with the art and they love it. Before they got into NFTs some of these people were generally unconcerned about art but seeing them now making distinctions between what they want to sell and what they want to keep and how they've developed more discerning tastes makes me really happy. I'm here for the idea that NFTs will both help businesses scale and get more people to appreciate art in itself. This level of recognition, utility, and financial reward for artists is so long overdue!!

H+: What is some advice you would offer someone struggling to pursue being an artist?

Paulina Almira: I'm just beginning, but this is what's been extremely valuable to me: devoting time to my craft every day, sharing my progress with the world, and being patient. I understand that creating one piece every day may not be feasible for everyone especially if digital is not their primary medium, but it's important to train your mind to constantly think creatively. It was only until I decided to post one creation on Instagram every day that my work started to garner attention. It took a lot of discipline and lost hours of sleep, but discovering my style and getting to where I am was worth it. I still have so much to learn, I make mistakes, and by no means do I consider myself truly successful yet, but constant creation and engagement with the design community continues to open doors for me.

For more information on Paulina Almira, visit her artist page!


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