Like many of us that used our time in quarantine to get back in touch with our hobbies and creativity, Noah Simpson spent much of 2020 teaching himself digital illustration and creating psychedelic-style doodles with bright colors, trippy shapes and his signature cartoon mushrooms. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Simpson has lived in Pensacola for more than 10 years and is currently working on his master’s degree at the University of West Florida in industrial and organizational psychology. As a full-time student and part-time artist, Simpson has dreams to obtain a PhD and explained that art will always be a huge part of his daily routine. You can check out his work on Instagram @squiggleshrooms.
You described your prints as psychedelic doodling—what does your creative process look like?
It really depends on the day. A lot of what I make is this stream-of-consciousness style of art where whatever is on the page is just a huge outpouring of whatever I needed to get out. To that extent, I think the term psychedelic really fits thematically with the flowy shapes, the color and the method in which I’m making my art. From the beginning my art style has always been on the kitsch, sillier side. I’ve taken major influences from Mike Perry, Pendleton Ward and Jim Henson.
Your illustrations all have a wavy, melting, trippy look to them. What is it about this style that you find so expressive?
I think I’m really obsessed with things that make your eyes dart across the page in different directions. Something that I find really interesting about this style is that everyone sees something different in it and it makes them feel a particular way. Sometimes I feel like I’m showing people a Rorschach ink blot.
What’s the story behind your art name, Squiggle Shrooms?
It originally just came to me while I was sitting around drawing these little mushrooms in pen. Every time I sit down to doodle something, I end up drawing these little mushroom characters that get little squiggly eyes. And then the name just seemed to fit the silliness of what I make. Although I think my art is going to get more serious soon, I don’t think I’ll be changing the tone too much, and I certainly don’t plan on changing my name. I think my style is attached to the name at this point.
You do a lot of digital art and freehand drawings with pen and markers. Do the freehand drawings ever inspire digital illustrations?
I draw in my sketchbooks every chance I get and I’m always trying to doodle little ideas for new art. Those pen drawings almost always get made into something larger whether that’s a painting or a digital piece. I’ve been so much busier lately that most of my time to draw just has to be digital because it’s faster. The best purchase I think I ever made was an iPad and an apple pencil so I can create on the go, not just home at my desk.
I saw on your IG that you’re selling prints and working towards creating a coloring book. Tell me about that.
I’ve actually been trying to get my illustration style down and make it fairly consistent. Some of the latest stuff I’ve posted online is in that illustration style, and I think it would work well for a silly comic collection, which is something I’ve wanted to make for a while now. As far as the coloring book, I’m slowly churning out pages as they come up. I’m trying to get it to about 30 pages or so before I print them out! I just recently started selling prints online last month. My current focus is on making a lot of originals and selling in person next year at art markets.