Do blood, bones, and (maybe slightly bloodcurdling) baby dolls leave you smiling?
When attached to a Paul Moschell masterpiece, they will.
A painter at heart and a jack of all art trades by practice, Moschell’s style is at once macabre and whimsical. And yet, to define his work as creative as his seems … inappropriate, perhaps. His work transcends labels and descriptors — to him, it’s living and, as such, constantly evolving.
“I like to think that my style as an artist changes … [and] I can get bored working in just one medium,” Moschell says. “But whether I am painting or doing sculpture and assemblage work, I’d like [people to] recognize it as a Paul Moschell. When I branch out visually and folks seem to embrace and recognize what I do as an artist, I love that.”
Moschell recently branched out with his new collection of ‘say something’ (or perhaps, shout something) hats. The outlandish pieces feature items and materials sourced from many countries around the world; some of the objects even hail from bygone eras. His Blondie hat (a clever tribute to gay icon Debbie Harry), for instance, was assembled using a 63-year-old helmet from Belgium. Other hats feature African quills, birdcages, and animal teeth.
If creating transnational, transgenerational hats sounds like a pricey task, that’s because they were. The project cost him “thousands and thousands of dollars,” an expense covered in part by an online campaign on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com. Many of the hats are now available for purchase. The wearable wonders start at around $325.
“You don’t have to wear these hats. The goal was to create something that could also work as a centerpiece,” Moschell says of the collection. He certainly encourages possible buyers to
sport them …
… whilst running errands, even.
“[My hats] are made for bold people who like attention. I like the idea that if you were to go to Target with one of my hats on, it would make people smile. They’re little storybooks,” he says.
Moschell has been a vegetarian for more than 23 years, and he draws much of his inspiration from animals.
“Non-human influences and inspiration for me are very important. I raise finches, and I love their beautiful songs and demeanor. I am very much aware of how fragile they are as living creatures, and I feel I understand and connect with that.”
But perhaps his biggest non-human influence and inspiration is his two-pound Chihuahua, Tootie-Lynn. Through Moschell’s social media, the pup has become a celebrity in her own right.
“Everybody loves Tootie-Lynn,” Moschell gushes. “Honestly though, Tootie is nothing but two pounds of true love and devotion. She has joined me in some silly photos and dance videos, but her preference is to be quite private. She’s most happy to spend her time in a warm spot in the sunshine.”
Wearers and their smiling audiences need not lose their good vibes mulling over the
use of animal materials in the creation of the hats — Moschell’s feathers and bones are
“I do the best I can to seek out and research these sources, and in the past have opted to use replica bones or skulls to complete my work when original elements couldn’t be found or were not cruelty free,” he explains. “I am celebrating the animal and its life and love through my work. One day, when I pass, I hope to be made into an exquisite hat, and not be a sad example of road kill that nobody stops to pick up.” l
To view or purchase Paul Moschell’s hats or other masterpieces, check out his Etsy store at www.etsy.com/shop/moschell.
Photos by Kevin Alexander
Styling by Charlie Price