Oil Painter Goes Viral for Stunning, Relatable Still Lifes of Food — and One Ends Up in “Mean Girls” (Exclusive)

Noah Verrier's love of still lifes has brought his career to new heights

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/noahverrier/?hl=en">Noah Verrier/Instagram</a></p> Noah Verrier with his Taco Bell painting (left), Noah working on a Whattaburger painting with his models set up

Noah Verrier/Instagram

Noah Verrier with his Taco Bell painting (left), Noah working on a Whattaburger painting with his models set up

Noah Verrier always had a pull towards art, even before he knew what that meant for him.

The painter, who has gone viral for his oil still lifes depicting everyday items from a flower vase to a McDonald's happy meal, tells PEOPLE his love of the arts started at an early age.

"I always did art as a kid. I didn't have an artistic family, really, but I remember every time I would see a painting, I'd be interested. My mom had college painting classes that she was taking, and I'd see that or stuff on TV and be interested in it. And I felt like maybe I could do it and be good at it. So then I just started practicing at an early age and just was really into it."

Noah took art classes in high school, enjoying his free time with art more than socializing or other hobbies.

"Back then, Bob Ross was on TV. I don't paint landscapes but I would definitely watch. I actually have one that I did copy from the show, just to learn anything you can from anybody you can at that time."

For many years, Noah's interest in art was about "exploring and having fun," using different mediums. It wasn't until college that Noah started dabbling in oil painting.

"I started by just trying to figure it out for myself. In college, they're big on finding your subject and creating a portfolio. It's about consistency, like in other fields, and showing your skills to get a job," he recalls, eventually settling into "street scenes."

Noah moved on to working on landscapes and still lifes. He was then introduced to the work of Édouard Manet, a 19th-century French modernist painter known for his still lifes.

"My painting teacher, Mark, who was probably the biggest influence I had to go towards painting still lifes, introduced me to him. His Last Flowers paintings come with an amazing story. He was on his deathbed, his eyesight going near the end of his career. People were sending him these flowers, and he was painting them. It was such a beautiful story and you can see this set of paintings, and I was really touched by that."

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Noah started working on still lifes, beginning with small panels and taking off from there.

"I painted a little rose, simple floral stuff. There wasn't any food really involved at that time. I was looking for things that would entertain me if I was going to sit there and paint them. I have one painting I did of a little bottle of Grey Goose vodka and a bowl of Goldfish crackers. Nobody was doing anything like that at the time, but for me, I was doing what came naturally. And I liked to paint quick, something I can do in a few hours. The more I did it, the more I thought, 'Damn, this is interesting.' "

That's when Noah started experimenting with combining household items with food, which was "probably my first little glimpse into it."

Noah spent some time working on selling his work while also teaching as an adjunct professor at a few different schools. He remembers it being a particularly hard time.

"I never tell that part of it, too, how hard it is. I don't tell it because everybody has a hard time when they're getting a job, no matter what industry. But it was the period after I quit teaching that I was really able to focus on my own work and find all these crazy subjects."

Noah wasn't a fan of social media, but after encouragement from others, he started sharing his work on Facebook.

"My work took well to being shared on Facebook, especially some of the different odd subjects. I was doing local subjects like magnolias, which are really heavy here in the south, some other flowers and things. It took off pretty fast for me, and I was like, 'Wow, there's actually an audience here. There are people who care about art.' "

Noah was getting used to sharing his work on Facebook and Instagram when he got a message from someone alerting him that his work was going viral on Reddit, a platform he hadn't heard of up until then.

"So I went over to Reddit and found the person who had been sharing my work — sunflowers in a glass, no food yet. I confronted the guy and he was like, 'Oh sorry, do you mind?' I didn't know anything about Reddit, so I agreed. Then I got on there and started sharing my own work."

Reddit proved to have even more appreciators of art, with Noah able to quickly unload several paintings to interested buyers.

"I would wake up, and one of my paintings would be at the top of r/pics with millions of views. It was a PB&J with a jar of milk on a pink background. It had thousands of comments, thousands of likes, thousands of shares. And then people and brands were reaching out to me, so Reddit was the first huge thing for me."

His first brand deal was with NYX Ice Cream, which immediately surpassed his expectations.

"NYX reached out to me and was like, 'We want you to do 15 paintings for our corporate office.' And that was from seeing my peanut butter and jelly, my glass of whiskey, my stack of gummy bears."

Noah had artists reaching out for advice. having put his teaching days behind him, he told the truth.

"I said, I'm just following my instincts here. I'm just here sharing things and it just blew up."

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Oftentimes, the artist himself "couldn't believe" the recognition he was getting.

"It kept going, and it took it happening one, two three years in a row. I'm very conservative in that I felt like, 'This is just a fluke.' But after another year and another year, I got it," he explains. "I knew that I was a good painter. And that's not because I'm cocky, it's because I practiced my ass off in school. I busted my ass to get good at my skill."

Noah continues, "I committed to this. I quit my job. I had responsibilities, I had to hustle every day. I did what I know. I got up every day. I sat down with my sketchbook. I sat down and painted. I did a lot of side jobs, too, whatever I had to do to keep being able to make art every day. I stuck to an idea, a goal of coming up with a new idea every day or two and finding a way to make some money off it, sell it. And it just grew from that, really."

"I didn't think a grilled cheese painting would blow up., but who knows what's going to do well in art? It's been super surprising and strange, but exciting."

Noah got into a groove as he continued exploring "different concepts of food."

"I wish I could say something specific about why I've used like food, and the fast food stuff. But I'm just doing the things that I find the most interesting. I'm gravitating to being authentic to what I think. And that's not just about food — it could be anything. It's having a passion for that thing that you think is tied authentically to who you are."

"The first brand to reach out to us after NYX was Popeyes. Then Taco Bell reached out to do a project and that was amazing. Then they used the painting, the Taco Bell one, for Mean Girls."

He continues, "It's only in the movie for a split second, but the fact that it was in Regina George's house, like are you kidding me? It's been really awesome to work with brands, but the movie situation was crazy because it's just so far beyond what I would have expected. I was just trying to make a living off my work. It's all been amazing. It's all been like a huge surprise and it's all a big deal to me."

Noah does give a lot of credit to social media for his success, noting, "It's hard to get into galleries, magazines. Social media lets you be yourself and be seen for who you are and what you make, which I thought was freaking amazing."

Achieving success and seeing the appreciation for his art has been a profound process for Noah.

"It taught me how to figure out, for me, how to know when you're supposed to make an important decision. I'm fortunate enough to have my faith as a heavy influence and support for me. But I learned from it, how to take a dive, how to take a risk."'

He continues, "You have to take risks to be an entrepreneur, which you also are as an artist like this. I have my faith to lean into to guide me, but it's about tapping into that inner voice to give you direction and make you feel comfortable. I knew God would provide for me on this risky journey. He wanted me to try to develop my talent. I couldn't orchestrate the Reddit thing. It's things like that you can't account for, things you can't take credit for. Sometimes it just comes to you."

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