CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?
ZM: I would describe my artwork as mixed media collages. I don’t really like labelling my work process as I feel it restricts it, plus my work covers a range of different processes and techniques. However, I always seem to be drawn to collage methods of image-making, I feel maybe because of the freedom this technique gives me.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
ZM: I draw inspiration from a variety of sources; I love going for morning walks and taking my notebook with me to note down sounds or words which I hear. I’m also inspired by the materials I surround myself with in my studio space. Music is a big inspiration for me, I always have it playing in the background while I’m working. I find myself listening to more calm and instrumental music while creating art as otherwise, it can be a distraction rather than an inspiration. I also gain inspiration from other people in my life, my family, friends, other artists, strangers. All these interactions seem to make their way into my work.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
ZM: When starting a new artwork, I tend to focus more on how I’m treating and using my materials than what the outcome will be. This is very freeing as it gets rid of the anxiety of having to make “good work”.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
ZM: A lot of my artwork can be quite abstract, so I like it when people place their interpretation onto it. My artwork can reflect the emotions I was feeling at that moment, so if someone viewing my work gets an emotive reaction, I would consider that a success.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
ZM: As I said earlier, I often start the day with an early morning walk, I feel it is a good way to open my mind ready for the day. I try and get any administrative work out of the way before lunchtime and then spend the rest of the day in the studio. Although I spend a lot of time there, I try not to rush my time in the studio, as I feel it is important to step back and reflect on what I’ve made.
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?
ZM: I feel it depends on the artwork. If I am working on a brief, the likelihood is that I would have discussed ideas beforehand with the client. However, working within the style of mixed media and collage I never really know what the outcome will be. If I’m working on a personal project, I don’t typically restrain myself with any preconceived ideas, a singular painting could change compositions twice or three times in the process.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
ZM: A major lesson I’ve learned is just to keep making, keep that productivity to a maximum! During my peak times of creativity, one way I’ve ensured that I keep up with this is working on multiple artworks at the same time. It keeps my mind fresh and it avoids the act of smearing paint around the canvas just for the sake of it! I may be working on one piece, step back, glance over at another which I haven’t looked at for a while and it’s like I’m seeing it with a fresh perspective.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
ZM: I believe that you shouldn’t let your ‘style’ restrict your art, but I do think that you should aim to make it recognizable as your work. Although I work across several different mediums and subjects, I hope my work is reflective of my style. I have admiration for other artists who have a clear style and yet work across a vast range of mediums, these are the types of artists which inspire me.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
ZM: Self-motivation. No one is going to make the work for you, and this means still creating work after facing rejection. Whenever you feel like you just want to give up and throw the painting out the window, that’s the point you will know if you have sufficient motivation and ambition to continue to be an artist.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
ZM: I love the process of making artwork most of all, the unpredictability of never quite knowing what work I’m going to end up with at the end of each day.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
ZM: I have recently come across the artist Joy Yamusangie. Their use of color, shape and texture I find inspiring. In terms of mark-making and narrative, I’m always drawn to the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. However, one of my favorite artists of all time is Robert Rauchenberg. His experimental nature towards art is so influential on me and my work. I’m inspired by not only his process of art-making but also his attitude towards art, the fact that anything can be included within an artwork. This idea resonates with me!
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
ZM: I think technology is a fantastic tool for artists nowadays. Social media has given us the ability to reach a whole new audience to showcase our work. We can scan and photograph artwork at such high quality with easy access. And the internet allows us to research into any artist, gallery, magazine and company out there. Although my work is mostly analogue based, I feel technology is, nowadays, an indispensable asset for artists.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
ZM: I think that’s a difficult question because we all view the world around us in our own unique way. I think differently is the wrong word. As an artist, I may be more conscious of my observations of the world around me, maybe more so than others who don’t follow creative paths. But we all have different views of the world, creative paths or not.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
ZM: I love traveling! A couple of years ago I was traveling around Europe with some friends. We went to Berlin during the trip. I instantly fell in love with Berlin, particularly the East Side. Seeing the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery was an awe-inspiring experience – almost spiritual.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
ZM: I don’t have a favorite author. But I enjoy reading non-fiction books and researching into different art topics and techniques. Expanding my knowledge of the art world.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
ZM: I’d like to expand my clientele and would like more opportunities to showcase my work in galleries which will hopefully lead to representation. My current studio is limited for the scale of work I would like to be producing, so I’m on the lookout for a new studio.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
ZM: For me being an artist means a great deal. I have the responsibility as an artist to observe and absorb the world around me, understand it, then put it back out into the world. Changing people’s perception of the world around them. But it is also the most joyful and fulfilling experience when people find happiness in the work I make, seeing their emotional response to my work makes it all worthwhile. That is what being an artist means to me.
CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?
ZM: Shine on You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
ZM: I find joy in making the work, I hope others feel the joy from it as well!
CHECK OUT MORE ON: ZACHARY MERLE