October will be a month of firsts for Island-raised artist Paul Carrick. This month, four of his paintings will be hung at the world’s only science fiction museum in Switzerland. “It’s the first time I will have my stuff on real walls,” he said by telephone this week. When he steps off of the plane in Switzerland to view his work, it will be the first time he sets foot in Europe. “It’s going to be an overload of stimulation,” the artist, 35, said.
Mr. Carrick was born on the Island into an artistic family. He is the son of children’s book author/illustrator team Carol and Donald Carrick of Edgartown. Unlike many with houses on the Vineyard, Mr. Carrick spent his winters here, in a summer resort and his summers in northern Vermont, a winter destination. The locales left plenty of time for his imagination to run wild. “I had a lot of spare time,” he said. “I was always drawing stuff or playing games. It was a great outlet for my imagination.”
While at the regional high school, Mr. Carrick exhausted the art class offerings, taking photography, architecture and even spending his study halls with art teacher Paul Brissette. Upon graduation, he enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence where he began his formal study of illustration. His art has always focused on fantasy and on the role-playing games, his escape during his teenage years. Throughout college, he sent mailings to different galleries and publishing houses, but it was not until he attended a game-playing convention in his senior year that things really took off. To balance his fantasy art, Mr. Carrick has illustrated two children’s books written by his mother in recent years.
Although content to illustrate, Mr. Carrick had a dream of seeing his art on the walls of a museum. “I’ve been really wanting to have a place to show my art,” he said. “I was sending a message of hope out to the universe.” The message was answered this spring when Mr. Carrick received an e-mail asking him to take part in a show at the Maison d’Ailleurs (the House of Elsewhere). Mr. Carrick was one of a handful of artists worldwide invited to create works of art inspired by science fiction writer H.P Lovecraft. In October, his paintings will hang next to works by John Howe, illustrator of the J.R.R. Tolkien books, and Guillermo Del Toro, director of the Academy Award-winning movie Pan’s Labyrinth, among others. Mr. Carrick first learned of Mr. Lovecraft through the fantasy game world in high school and began making Lovecraft-inspired art in college.
Mr. Carrick immediately accepted the invitation from the museum and this summer spent nearly two months painting four works, which he shipped off to Switzerland earlier this month. He documented his progress on a blog and said the feedback from viewers improved its quality. “I came out with better paintings,” he said. “I was able to challenge myself.” Now, to raise the money he needs to make the trip to Europe, Mr. Carrick is sculpting one of Mr. Lovecraft’s most celebrated characters, Cthulhu. Again he is documenting his progress on his blog and will make casts of the sculpture to sell once it is complete. “There’s a very poetic idea of making Lovecraft art to get to the Lovecraft show,” he said. He has yet to finish the sculpture but is determined to make the trip regardless. “Even if I’m swimming, I’m going,” he said.