Zoë Pawlak is an artist and industry designer born in Vancouver, BC. Recently, she released Vessels + Muses, a beautiful 40-card Oracle Deck crafted through intuition. It features Pawlaks’ original artwork paired with soulful, reflective messages and journal prompts. With spring’s vibrant energy upon us, there is no better time to align our spirits with the world around us.

Rooted in painting, the through-line in her work is her unique capacity to maintain a strong personal aesthetic while maintaining a commitment to telling the truest version of her stories. Zoë is a local entrepreneurial leader, speaker, and passionate about community. She believes that great work tells the individual narrative with an honest vulnerability that allows the viewer to step into a shared narrative they can then claim as their collective truth.

Zoë’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Interior Design, and Martha Stewart Living. She’s presented select works at ICFF, WestEdge, AD Design Show, and IDS West. Pawlak’s paintings are in the private collections of the Government of Canada, Cristina and Trevor Linden, Cobie Smulders, and Club Monaco.

Zoë recently introduced the Vessels and Muses Oracle Deck, a 40-card deck crafted through intuition and featuring Pawlaks’ original artwork paired with soulful and reflective messages and journal prompts. Aiming to support peoples’ intimate journey of self-discovery and growth, Pawlak shares her tips on how consistent journaling helped her overcome some of life’s most challenging moments and come out the other side with intense perseverance and love.

Zoë Pawlak - artist - oracle deck

First let’s talk about your paintings. I feel such a connection with what I’ve seen so far. Can you tell us how you’ve evolved in your work over over the last few years?

Zoë: Thank you. My work has been evolving over a 20 year period. I studied high realism in school and so the relaxation into not only the abstraction of the figure or landscape but into pure abstraction in recent years, has been a real pleasure. It’s so much more about emotionally connecting to the viewer. I want to allow them to relax and expand into the work.

Vessels is one of the themes, what can you tell us about that inspiration and what is the story you wish to share?

Zoë: I started painting the vessels right around the time I got sober. The vessel is a cup, bowl, vase or any sort of holding space. What I was interested in was using the vessel as a metaphor for the body. I wanted to see if I could use the abstracted vessel to talk about the ways in which energy moves through the body. Also, there’s only so much this vessel can bear and so in some paintings, the paint is dripping out, leaving the vessel, or breaking open. This refers to the ways in which we cannot hold all things, we have a capacity or a limit and in this stage in life, learning, and knowing this has been incredibly powerful and revealing.

There are other themes, can you tell us more about the colour combinations?

Zoë: In addition to the vessels, I paint figures and landscapes. In my late teens and early 20s I trained by obsessively drawing and painting the nude. My teachers were very clear about the value of learning traditional methodologies in the same way you might think of a contemporary dancer having trained as a ballerina in the early years. The figures are autobiographical paintings that aim to speak to universal themes of longing and vulnerability. The landscapes are simply calm, colour field paintings meant to allow the viewer or client to enjoy the passive experience of indulging in emotive memory. The colour combinations are one of my favourite places to develop as a painter. I aim to bring together colours you
might not naturally see together and combine bright colours with calming
neutrals so that people don’t feel overwhelmed by the brighter colours.

You speak about surrendering and giving into the experience. What has this mindset offered you?

Zoë: Discovering The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and his work has changed my life. I have a long-term relationship with control. Being controlling is a response to feeling fear. I have had to get to know myself and why I feel so much fear and rewire my desire to know, change or control outcomes. Recovery has been really powerful for this. I’m not just sober, but actively learning and changing so that I can experience more peace and also enhance the quality of energy people feel when they are around me.

Aside from painting we’ve learned that writing is also something you love to do. You’ve been doing it personally recently and how does that form of creativity work with paintings?

Zoë: I have been writing informally since I was 12 years old. I’ve often titled a painting or named a theme, both on paper and in my mind, before completing a piece. Sometimes there are words that come to me and they feel so pressing to explore. I then make the work about that one line or few words. My poems and a few essays can be found on my substack. Our newsletter has actually become a beautiful place where I have started writing more as well.

Zoë Pawlak - artist

Why have you decided to launch an Oracle Deck with both words and images
you’ve created?

Zoë: I’ve often been encouraged to publish some of my writing and never really knew where to start. I have always been an avid reader. I’m very into books like Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones. Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg’s general philosophies are ‘write because you love it, it’s hard and keep going’. Writing is largely a lonely endeavour. Having them as author-allies has really inspired me to keep going. I have also had a front row seat to seeing contemporaries of mine like Sarah Blondin and Africa Brook expand their voices these last few years. I would call them both friends-from-afar. Their bravery in terms of developing their voices has really helped me muster the courage to begin to expose myself more in
this creative field. Writing the booklet for the Oracle Deck was my first formal incorporation of my writing into my larger creative practice. This deck is also an act of service and meant to be functional and helpful. It’s a culmination of my practices and gifts all in one box.

For someone who hasn’t touched an oracle deck, what should they know?

Zoë: It’s soft! Haha. The main feedback is that people actually LOVE the texture of the cards. It’s a 40 card deck and comes with a booklet that expands on the meaning of each word. Each word also comes with a journal prompt that you can integrate into your routine. When you draw a card, you can contemplate its significance and then feel free to journal about it and take some time to yourself to write and reflect.

Zoe Pawlak - Oracle Deck

Who is this for?

Zoë: This deck is for anyone looking for more support with their journaling practice. Ultimately, I want to be of service and I want this deck to help support people who are looking to take more time to reflect in their daily lives. It is for people who are seeking a spiritual life and want to dip their toes in exploring that or for longtime spiritual people who are looking for a contemporary deck that is fresh, alive and inspirational.

Anything else you’d like us to share?

Zoë: Getting and staying sober has been the absolute highlight of my life. It’s the only way by which I have been able to do anything meaningful and this multifaceted and deep over the last 8 years. The gifts on the other side of addiction are beyond my wildest dreams. I’m still me, but I have a peace and a purpose that I never thought I would be able to enjoy. I never thought this would be available to me. It’s been a real miracle to walk this unexpected path and to anyone suffering, reach out. I’m always here.

The Vessels & Muses Oracle Deck includes:

  • 40 cards featuring original artwork by Zoë Pawlak
  • A booklet that expands on the meaning of each word
  • Journal prompts for each card
  • Integration of the 12 astrological signs

You can learn more or to order directly, link to her site here.