There’s more than meets the eye in Paulina Almira’s quietly sinister, candy-coloured illustrations

Describing her work as “digital explorations of the surreal, the ethereal, the macabre and the pink”, the illustrator loves to create contradictions within her work.

23 February 2022

You're probably not surprised to learn that pink is Paulina Almira’s favourite colour. Discussing her love of the colour, Paulina explains that ‘it’s widely associated with softness, femininity and fun – many of my pieces do tend to express those ideas.” But, on the flipside, she also loves to add morbid twists to her scenes. “On first glance most of my pieces are playful and pink, but when you look closer there’s something f*cked up happening, and I love the element of surprise that evokes.”

Paulina sees her trademark contradictory style as having come to her “totally naturally”. As a child she tells us that whilst she loved “Barbie and Bratz dolls, lavish dresses, the Powerpuff Girls, and anything sparkly”, she also spent much of her time reading “horror fiction, fantasy, and steampunk novels” and was fascinated by “anything gory and morbid”. Being born and raised in the Philippines before moving to the US, Paulina’s early love of fashion kickstarted her interest in creativity. Taking drawing and painting lessons in high school, in college she was eventually introduced to the world of graphic design and digital art where she discovered and “fell in love with” Photoshop’s illustrator tool. Pursuing a fashion career and briefly working in tech, Paulina eventually adopted freelance illustration as her full time gig.


Paulina Almira: Three Minutes Too Late (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)

Nature has also served as an endless source of inspiration for the illustrator. In her debut piece for Art Basel, Languid Lake, Paulina tells us that she wanted to illustrate a scene from nature but that she “had to disrupt it somehow”. Featuring broken pillars – suggestive of some sort of disaster – eyeballs twisting and turning in the centre of flowers, blood dripping from the leaves and inverted rainbow, the piece has a brilliantly eerie and disquieting quality.

The piece Paulina considers her “masterpiece”, however, is her work Three Minutes Too Late. Combining everything she loves into one scene, the piece was initially inspired by the colourful staircases in the recent smash hit TV series Squid Game. With its fairytale, dreamlike quality, its gleaming pink prism gives it an ethereal and mysterious edge. Talking of her compositional decisions, Paulina explains that “there is so much going on but everything being placed right in the middle gives the piece compositional integrity, drawing viewers’ focus to the pink structure which boasts just enough detail to evoke curiosity and urge the viewer to keep looking.” And certainly, with your eyes eventually being drawn to the severed hands and glistening dripping blood, the piece perfectly demonstrates Paulina’s ability to create subtly macabre work that shifts and changes right in front of your eyes.

Slowly dipping her toes into the world of 3D and animation, Paulina has hopes to collaborate with fashion and beauty brands, and maybe to even enter the digital fashion world herself. “As people slowly build and grow accustomed to the metaverse, digi-fashion will definitely be a thing and I want to be part of it.” Looking to take things even further, Paulina has even toyed with the idea of producing physical sculptures of her work: “a hand and heart maybe, or eyeballs in a glass of whiskey. I think that would be super cool.”


Paulina Almira: Refraction (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Teatime Coup (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Two Winding Paths (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Pink Garden (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Our Protectors (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Elusive Whisky (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Maneki-Neko (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Colorful Conch (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)


Paulina Almira: Chrome Heart (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)

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Paulina Almira: The Languid Lake (Copyright © Paulina Almira, 2021)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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