David Zinn has worked commercially as an artist for 25 years. His work has graced posters, coasters, garbage trucks and just about everything in between that is in need of a creative twist....but he is known worldwide for his temporary street art. As an excuse to get outside, David has been chalking his favorite characters on brick and pavement for years. Most pieces are created for fun, and until it rains are enjoyed by anyone that passes. With no further ado, we couldn't be happier to have David Zinn for this session of 9.5 Questions.
1 - You are well known for your street chalk art. You can't 'major' in that in any fine art program I'm aware of...how did you get a start in this specialty?
I spent twenty-five years as a self-taught, self-employed commercial artist, using logos and poster designs to avoid my paralyzing fear of the blank canvas. I only started drawing on the sidewalk as a shameless excuse to get away from my computer on a nice day, and quickly discovered two very important things: 1) creativity thrives in environments that are temporary, anonymous and undignified, and 2) the sidewalk is not a blank canvas.
2 - The 3 dimensional feel of your pieces is such a visual draw....does this come natural or did you hone your 'perspective' skill set prior to bringing it to chalk?
Does anything come unnaturally?
I honed nothing until I saw the possibility of bringing my imaginary friends into the real world. Since then, it’s been non-stop trial and error for their benefit.
3 - You are visited by the grim reaper and he gives you some bad news. Tomorrow you will journey to the after life. But because you've done a bunch of nice 'Karmic' stuff in your life he's going to let you go to concert that final night and let you pick the band. Who do you pick.
I would gather together all of my favorite musicians off the streets of Ann Arbor to make a locavorious supergroup: Magdalen Fossum, Abigail Stauffer, Misty Lyn and the Big Beautiful, Laith Al-Saadi . . . if you put all those people on a stage under the stars in summertime, I'd get enough happy sad songs and sad happy songs to leave the world sated and content.
4 - Is there a particular inspiration for Sluggo? He seems to be the most popular of the characters you repeat.
Sluggo started life as an unsuccessful drawing of a kid who, thanks to some irregularities in the pavement, had an unusually eggplant-shaped head. All of the eyes I tried to draw on this kid were too low, too high, too far apart, or too close together; every attempt came out looking awkward and unhappy. When I finally drew his eyes on stalks above his head, it was actually intended as an act of revenge. I had no idea I was playing right into Sluggo's hands.
5 - You can pick one of the following: Live on the international space station for a month, Tour with the Rolling Stones for a year as a roadie, Live on a remote island and surf all day for one year. Which do you choose?
The first two are out of the question, because I'm allergic to both crowds and tight spaces. I hope someone's going to teach me how to surf, or else it will be a very short year.
6 - Outside of your street art, what medium do you enjoy most in art?
Doodling on coasters – the cardboard ones, not the amusement park ones. There is no greater gift than a bar that leaves the back of their coasters blank.
7 - You draw a portal to another dimension on a wall....and it FREAKING WORKS!! What era in time would you want to travel to? What event would you want to experience?
I would like to be dropped down next to a young Jesus Christ, and I would bring a video camera and a translator. I think it could help resolve a lot of contentious issues.
8 - Thanksgiving is coming up, what were you most thankful for? What is your favorite traditional thanksgiving food? Which is most overrated?
Favorite: that stuffing with both dried fruit and onions in it; sweet and savory in a fight to the delicious.
Most overrated: turkey, because every other day it's the meat you buy at the deli when you're trying to be healthy.
I am thankful for all the people with a knack for improving the world in practical ways, because I seem to be best suited for foolishness.
9 - What's the weirdest question or comment you've received while creating street art?
"Will you look after my kids while I do some shopping?”
9.5 - Any killer mix tape should have the song ________ by _________ on it.
"Shake A Tail Feather" by Ray Charles and the Blues Brothers. Best opening chords for a mix tape I've ever heard.
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