DZ: Well, I would say first and foremost, my work is constantly evolving, so it is a bit difficult to say. I hear words like “graphic” and “conceptual” a lot, as well as “dark” or “funny”, but I don’t try to be those things. Everything always comes out onto the paper differently, every time I get to work. I guess a good description would be “dark, graphic paintings, with conceptual twists, and a hint of humor to keep things balanced”.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
DZ: Everywhere. I go to museums around New York City a lot, I look at blogs, pay attention to posters on the street. I think my biggest inspiration is probably film and comics, but I really like poster design and old advertising too. My approach to illustration is to do as much as I can with very little, so the concept is easy to understand but still interesting to look at.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
DZ: My first thought is always to make sure the project is going to be interesting to me. If I am going to spend a lot of time conceptualizing, planning, and executing something, it not only must be perfect, it also must be a painless process. Then I think about the clients needs or what I want to achieve, and then I start working. Doing illustration is a lot different than fine art…I have to solve someone else’s problem, so doing freelance jobs exercises a different part of my brain than my paintings, which I approach completely different, with much less planning, sketching, and resketching. They are much more loose.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
DZ: I guess with my paintings I want people to laugh, to think, and then come out of the experience wondering why I made what I made, which is usually ambiguous, even to me. I tend to focus on the dark side of life, but put a humorous twist on it, with color or composition. There is so much dark stuff in the world that fascinates me, but the way I deal with it is to make it funny or entertaining, instead of letting it depress me.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
DZ: Hm. I wake up around 8 every day, take my dog for a walk, and get to work by 10 and try to do a solid 9 hour day before watching a movie, eating dinner, and relaxing. Other days are more stressful, if I have to get images ready for a competition or in this case, answer questions for an interview. I do that stuff later in the night, when I can listen to music, drink some beer, and decompress a bit. I try to organize my work so that I am constantly doing different things throughout the day, to do the best work I can, and not drive myself insane.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
DZ: For me, I have to plan. Of course there is no right way when it comes to art. Some people believe spontaneity is the best course for artistic expression, while others believe quite the opposite. I believe in a healthy dose of both for the simple sake of surprise, but I always plan out what I want to achieve before I start painting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I dont allow myself to make mistakes, experiment, and be surprised in the process. Some of my greatest achievements have been on accident.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
DZ: Be yourself.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
DZ: No. Millions of people are doing exciting and interesting things everyday. The most important thing is to be open to the possibility of surprise and change. I don’t think having an ego about what you do or like is a good thing.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
DZ: Not giving up.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
DZ: When people get excited about things I have made.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
DZ: David Lynch.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
DZ: It is great for self promotion, meeting new people, networking, and discovery. It also makes people lazy and stay inside too much.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
DZ: In America, I have to say New York, though I have been to %75 of the states. Abroad, I really liked Ghent, Belgium.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
DZ: Slaughterhouse Five.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
DZ: Just to keep on making it.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
DZ: It is liberating, exciting, and scary, but I dont want to be doing anything else!
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
DZ: I hope it is different in a year.
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