The 'F' List Interview with Chet Zar
This Monday, December 10 from 7-9, Chet Zar will be at La Luz de Jesus Gallery to sign copies of the first book of his work. Entitled “Black Magick”, the long-awaited book features over 150 full-color images of his motley crew of characters and details Chet’s fascinating journey as an artist in a range mediums.
Chet Zar, based in Monrovia, CA, is the first prominent artist I ever bought a painting from. I wandered into Copro Gallery; saw his painting "Bloom" and I had to meet the man behind this haunting vision. He was not at all what I had imagined. His dark side only is apparent in his work. He is laid back, modest and has a very giving personality.
He’s a busy guy with a number of exciting projects in the works including a graphic novel, his own line of Halloween masks, teaching seminars, and shows he’s curating and showing in. His art has become a favorite subject in the tattoo scene and he’s adding tattoo artistry to his already impressive artistic skill set. He is also of the subject of a documentary that’s in production.
Rick Galiher: Future (What shows / projects / work is on the horizon for you?)
Chet Zar: I have a signing at La Luz De Jesus / Wacko this Monday, Dec 10th for my new book. I also have an online 5 week painting seminar I did for Visualarium that’s coming up this month. Hmmm, what else? Oh yeah, Conjoined III, the annual sculpture group show I curate is opening January 19th at Copro gallery.
RG: Fights (What artistic battles have you been faced with?)
CZ: I once punched a canvas in the face.
RG: Fear (What thing real or imagined scares you the most?)
RG: Fame (How do you feel about being a recognizable name?)
CZ: It’s kind of weird, especially since I never thought people would like my artwork when I started painting.
RG: Frames (What can they do for a work of art?)
CZ: Frames are super important when it comes to selling your art. When I first started showing art in galleries I just figured that buyers would change the frames to match their furniture or something, so I just used pretty cheap frames. I eventually figured out that most buyers want a complete package and they don’t want the hassle of re framing something. And from a completely aesthetic standpoint, you should present your art in the best way possible. Customizing frames is something I have started to do in the last few years and people mention my frames to me almost as much as they do my paintings.
RG: Favoritism (Do feel it is hard to break into the art world?)
CZ: Not if you are willing work your way up. If your work sells, you will get shows. Being in LA helps- especially the monthly “Cannibal Flower” group show: www.cannibalflower.com. I got my start with them and while they do show established artists, they are all about showing new artistic talent and helping new artists get their foot in the door. Every city should have a Cannibal Flower.
RG: Fortune (Are you in this for the money?)
CZ: I could make a lot more money if I stayed in the film business full time, so the answer would be no. That doesn’t mean I am not trying to make money, but there are much easier ways to do it. My main goals are making enough money with my artwork to support myself and my family and pay off a bunch of credit card debt I racked up during some lean years in the film industry and starting my fine art career.
RG: Flow (How do you manage a daily routine of creating art?)
CZ: I usually do my business/computer stuff in the morning and don’t get painting until the afternoon and on into the night. I am a night owl for sure, but I try and get to bed by midnight or else I will eventually be one of those people who stays up all night and sleeps in the day. I would probably prefer it but my wife has a kind of opposite schedule to that and I would never get to see her.
RG: Fire (What lights yours artistically?)
CZ: Looking at great art, listening to great music, watching a great film…good art really inspires me to try and make good art.
RG: Fate (Do you believe in it?)
CZ: There is something but fate seems to only really scratch the surface of what it really is.
RG: Friday Nights (What is your normal routine?)
CZ: Like every other night of the week, I paint.
RG: Fans (How would you categorize your fans and collectors?)
RG: Frontiers (How do you want to advance art?)
CZ: I like the idea of helping to legitimize dark imagery. I felt like dark art and imagery never got the respect it really deserved when I was a kid.
RG: Fascination (What is it about the themes you explore that keep you revisiting them?)
CZ: I don’t really know why. I just love dark imagery. It feels kind of romantic in a weird way. I have always been fascinated with the strange and the bizarre, as well as death.
RG: Format (What other art medium are you interested in trying?)
CZ: I would like to try film. I used to make films when I was a kid (Super 8!) and I even got into editing them. I was probably only 9 or 10 years old. I am a huge fan of cinema so I think I could do it.
RG: Freedom (As a working artist, what do you enjoy most about your freedom to create?)
CZ: Freedom to create whatever you want? What’s not to like? It’s all good!
RG: Frustration (What about the art world do you find frustrating?)
CZ: Lame art being sold to rich people for zillions of dollars .
RG: Furry Friends (Why are rescue animals a cause you feel so strongly about?)
CZ: I have always had an affinity for animals so I want to do what I can to help them. They are innocent.
RG: Font (What font do you associate most with?)
CZ: Maybe Impact. But I have been using Engravers MT lately.
RG: Fudge (What is the curse word you tend to use the most?)
CZ: I pretty much use them all equally.
RG: Firsts (When and what was the first piece of art you sold and how did it feel?)
CZ: I think it may have been one called “One In The Oven” http://www.chetzar.com/2002-one-in-the-oven.html. LC from Thinkspace and Cannibal flower sold it. It felt great, of course! I am not one who feels the need to hold on to my artwork. Each piece sold means I get to keep painting and I would rather paint than look at my paintings.
RG: Food (What is your favorite meal or restaurant?)
CZ: Zelo cornmeal crust pizza. My favorite pizza: http://www.zelopizzeria.com/
RG: Fun (What do you do for fun and in your free time?)
CZ: I don’t really do anything for fun. I like to paint so my work is kind of my fun. If I had more time I would play music again for fun.
RG: Family (How much does family influence your work?)
CZ: Probably more than I realize but not in a direct way. They are super supportive of my art career and having support is a huge influence on just about every aspect of my work.
RG: Faith (What is yours?)
CZ: It’s my own special mix of spiritual herbs and spices. It definitely has an Eastern flavor.
RG: Fantasy (How does your art feed your fantasies?)
CZ: My art IS my fantasies.
RG: Fashion (How would you describe your clothes and where do you shop?)
CZ: Black. Mostly from thrift stores.
RG: Friends (Do you tend to hang out with a lot of fellow artists or your collectors?)
CZ: I don’t really hang out with anybody very much other than my wife. I have a few friends I get together with from time to time and most of them happen to be artists in some form or another. But I am kind of a loner. I love the few friends I have but I also enjoy being alone.
RG: Fuck-ups (If you could go back, would you have approached your craft differently?)
CZ: I sometimes think that I would have liked to have gone to art school but I am pretty happy where I am artistically so I don’t think I would change much.
RG: Fib (What is a secret about yourself that few people know?)
CZ: I like to take baths.
RG: Feelings (What have been your happiest and saddest moments?)
CZ: My kid’s birth and watching my mother in law get sick and die.
RG: Follow (Where can an art enthusiast track what you’re up to?)
RG: Fill-in (Now is your chance to play word association…)
Fall______out Flesh_____dunce Force_____feed Fresh_____meat Fatal_____flaw Fast______friends Fat_______jesus Frumpy____chicken Flaimin’___cheetos Fine______whine Far_______side Fruit______basket Farm______factory Full of_____shit
RG: Finish (Is there anything else you’d like to add?)
CZ: Not really... but thanks for asking!