Credit: Zach Stone Productions

Cosmic Charlie

Written by: Elise Olmstead


There’s a certain kind of magic nostalgia in the work of Chuck Pagel, aka Cosmic Charlie.  The pop surrealist shapes and colors take us back to a psychedelic era, with a fresh twist that is nothing less juicy than a melting multi-colored popsicle.  Inspired by pure aesthetic of nature and humankind, his creations beg to be hung on the wall and admired for generations to come.

Where are you from?

I was raised in Battle Creek, MI, but I live in the south Chicago suburbs right now.

How do you think that influenced how you grew up to be?

Living in Michigan made me appreciate nature quite a bit, I was able to enjoy my childhood a lot and that’s something that has had a big influence on what I’m like now. I enjoy a lot of the same things I did as a kid.

When did you start making art and what inspired you to be creative?

I have always made art, since I was a kid I loved drawing and creating things I thought of. My parents are both very creative, and I suppose I inherited my creativity from them, and a certain eye for a specific taste. It wasn’t until I was about 23yrs old that I really decided to take painting seriously and create something more than just private hobby.

Who are some artists that you grew up looking up to?

I love some of the old Disney movies, specifically Alice in Wonderland, and the backgrounds in Pinocchio, and Robin Hood. Don Bluth made a lot of beautiful animation as well, those were probably some of my first influences in art.

Who are some artists who you look up to now?

My influences now would be Bill Alexander for sure and Bob Ross, Maxfield Parrish, Heinz Edelmann, and Gilbert Williams.

What subjects are you inspired by?

My strongest inspirations come from nature. The evening, the mood that moonlight shadows give, starry summer nights, early mornings before the sun is up. I like things that make you feel rather than think, I like color over content with my visual art typically. Other things wood be LED hula hoopers that come out and hoop on the hills while late night bands play at festivals, the subtle magic it adds to the atmosphere is something I try to capture. Female beauty is also an inspiration.

Does your art have a deeper meaning?

My paintings typically don’t have any deeper meaning than what feelings you get from looking at them.

What do you try to invoke in those who view your art?

Going back to what I said before, I enjoy color over content typically when it comes to creating art. It’s about the feeling, the mood the painting creates in the space. I try to invoke a feeling inside rather than a thought.

What is something that you enjoy the most about being an artist?

Creating something that makes me happier than I was before I made it is definitely something I enjoy about being an artist. The friends you make from painting is also pretty good. I would say the part I like the most is the moment when I try to paint something and it looks how I want, executed beautifully.

What do you enjoy the least?

The part I dislike the most about being an artist is creating something in not happy with.

What is a new project you would like to try?

I would love to travel with a band on tour as a live artist. That would be a new project to try.

What is your ultimate dream for your career as an artist?

Traveling the country as a live artist would be a dream job to me, with a band or completely solo. Being the next Lisa Frank wouldn’t be a bad gig either.

What has been a big milestone or exciting moment for you in the past couple of years?

Live painting at the Werk Out 2014 was a big jump for me. When it comes to my art, my first “hula hoop painting” I did was a big advancement in my art as well, the one where the girl has the hoop balanced on her nose “Liquid Pearl.”

Where can we see you this summer?

You can find me at “Branch Out Camp Out,” “Broomhead Festival,” “Down On The Farm,” “The Werk Out,” “Summer Meltdown,” “Shoe Fest,” but I have more festivals waiting to be confirmed, some are down in Florida.

Where can we buy your art?

You can buy my art at, or contact me on Facebook at or through email at