November 4, 2010

Do You See the Same Thing as Me? And Now?

An Interview with Illustrator and Artist Zac Lowing
Click on any picture to zoomiginate

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)

Zac, where do you get your ideas? You have so many different styles, certainly more than I can do justice to (for?) in terms of the selection in this article. Is there a sort of random (e-)doodling that you’re doing or is there always (sometimes?) a very distinct rhyme and reason to – especially, but not exclusively – one of your more abstract pieces?
I admire tattoo artwork. But to be honest, I think it looses something when it's put on skin (lol, a lot of people aren't going to like that thought!). I watch 'LA Ink' on television and see them do some incredible drawings that are masterpieces in themselves – only to have them be put away in some folder while a 'copy' is put on a rough, variously shaped canvass (e.g. someone’s body) that is normally moving around and hard to really take in. I mean, how many times is a person going to stand still so people can really appreciate the tattoo? Maybe someone could do a show with people arranged like paintings, perhaps a wall mounted brace to hold the tattoo still for viewing, ha ha ha.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I like to do tattoo inspired stuff that you can admire without feeling embarrassed in staring at a person’s arm (or other body part!). The Tribal stuff is so cool with the strong curves, points and branching to which I add colour and depth. Symmetry also fascinates me in how it creates shapes and lattices I would never have thought of otherwise.

Is there rhyme or reason to my designs? Well, once in a blue moon, my subconscious picks things out that symbolise the turmoil I feel I am going through at a particular time pretty well. For instance, when we found out my dad had cancer, I started doing a lot with red. I did one piece which had this curve of energy and movement in the upper left and a cragged mass on the lower right that I called 'Incoming Reality’.

Most of my stuff though is just me relaxing and letting go. I enjoy setting up a world that I can then explore and send post cards from where I've been to people out there.

How does the approach for one of these pieces compare to say, a picture featuring a futuristic or even utopian cityscape or other ‘recognisable’ object?
Again, early on I did a lot of Sci-Fi stuff, spaceships, a city called Zberg, etc. These could take me days to complete and would bog down the computer like you wouldn't believe. I'd spend a few hours trying to get the right view, rendering small sections and then letting the whole scene render for a few hours only to find a dull section blocking a cool part.

I might go back to doing some of that once I get a fast enough system. Still, the abstracts can be more fun and still be Sci-Fi if you consider how alien they look at times. I can well imagine them up on the walls of the inhabitants of some distant exo-planet.

How are you getting your art ‘out there’? Have you participated in gallery or other public shows?
I've had some stuff put up in a coffee shop and have exhibited at a few Sci-Fi conventions and at one stray show in Chicago. Still, my art doesn't seem to fit the formula for what people call ‘modern’ art. Sometimes I think, ‘hey, I could do variations on squares of flat colour!’ Actually, I did this once as a joke, which was a series of variations from squares, circles etc. until the last one, which I called doughnutism, ha ha. Or maybe I should go for the shock value, making a statement about religion or politics! But for me that would be too easy and contrived.

I just think some things can't be forced, they have to come to you. Take the song 'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd (ZN: perhaps one of the three best songs EVER written by anyone... just in case you’re curious). I have it on my iPod, but I never choose to play it. Still, it seems to come to me at the right time, be it on the radio or someone else picking to play it. It means so much to me, that song; but I just feel like if I play it ‘on purpose’ that it would be some kind of perverse violation, you know, to ‘make’ the song sing for me.

So, I do what I want, not what the establishment – aka the galleries – want I suppose. Or at least what I perceive they want.

How about the Internet? Where can the general public best find your latest offerings, e.g. via social platforms or blogs or how?
For now, I am only on the web, MySpace and Facebook. I tried out dozens of art pages and even a blog, but I just felt that I wasn’t getting enough traffic to justify the effort. And with all that is out there, I just felt it became a waste of time for me.

I mean, I've sold some stuff, both online and off. Still, to push it more, I think I might need a manager or something... I'm not the best salesman, lol.

On the other hand, on Facebook I have people from all over the world who ‘stop by’ to look at the pictures. I can really interact with them and I am happy with that. I guess in a lot of ways I feel that right now I’m just like a garage band with a few loyal followers. But who knows, some day... some day.

Tell us why you consider your art to be your ‘addiction’?
I have an addictive personality – which used to lead to things that where no good for me. Let's just say I remember the first 5 minutes of a lot of parties and leave it at that.

Over the years I've tried to focus my obsessions in better directions, which obviously includes my art. There is a certain opiate quality to knowing you've made a person thousands of miles away smile for a bit.

At least from your Facebook updates, you really do seem to put out an incredible ‘volume’ of high-quality works!! Why is that do you think – not that they’re such good quality but why or better said how are you able to produce such a large amount of work?
Thanks! Well, like anything, it comes down to time and resources. I have so much I want to do, so many ideas and inventions, even more than what you see; but right now I lack the time or resources to accomplish everything. Still, I've always been a mechanic and I don't put up with crap long. Some people see something not working right and use a band-aid approach. I take a little longer to find the root cause, to either strengthen the weak link, or lessen the stress on it.

And yes, there is also that drive that I get when I am shopping for food and realise I can't buy some stuff because my refrigerator hasn't worked in over a year! Starving artist, what else do you want me to say? Ha ha.

And time... well, I wish sometimes that I didn't have to sleep. There is just so much I want to do. So I do as much as I can in the time that I can afford! And again, it is really my way of escaping, of letting the stress of life just flow out of my body and into my work.

I also wanted to get a chance to feel out a bit more why you’ve said:
I don’t do art that makes you ’think’... no, I don’t drag you through my nightmares either; we all have enough of those. I’d rather take you away for a while... if I can get you to say ’cool’, I have succeeded in my mission.
Why is that? And are you really referring more to your audience or yourself?
I didn't set out with that in mind, it’s just what I have realised is all. So many artists want to express themselves, and if you think about that, it's all a bit selfish isn’t it? (Oh boy, they're gonna hate me now, LOL.) I mean, I'd rather be the movie that makes you feel good than the dry documentary that tells you how much the world sucks, sure! I'm not looking down on anyone when I say this, it's just to me like saying my favourite colour is blue, while others like brown.

A deeper reason I do so much art is the fantasy of digging myself out of the hole I'm feel like I’m in. Sometimes I don't want to think about ‘things’ and at times it's all I can do... my art that is. It's like each new piece is another log on a fire, where the fire is my signal fire on a deserted beach and I’m hoping a passing ship will see it. All those happy people on that cruise ship, dancing, eating, feeling great. Oh man, wouldn’t it be great if they just by happenstance noticed the fire?

Other times it's like watching a jet in the sky fly by, thousands of feet high with no chance of seeing my little fire. So I don't even bother to light it. This for me is like knowing that I have so many pieces I've never shown. Sometimes I feel like I am in denial of thought, thinking there is something bigger than me that I must do. I should be building a raft with all those logs, but a raft won't survive the wave... it's the ship I need. Have you ever felt like your building a bridge to somewhere, and it keeps arching out longer and longer? It's made of dreams and hopes, wishes and the way it should have gone. And now it's swaying, giving me vertigo. So I keep looking away from the abyss, reaching for another log for the fire.

Wow I hate to get back to ‘basics’ after that but I have to ask: What software and/or hardware are you currently using? Did I see correctly as well that you’ve had to at least modify the latter to avoid, shall we say, ‘significant overheating’ of your computing unit?
Well, I use Photoshop for some basic stuff, but my main software is a relatively inexpensive 3D program I use.

It reminds me of a story my dad once told me: when he was a kid, they would throw rocks at the engineer of a train so he would get mad and throw chunks of coal back at them they could draw with. Years later when I was taking a class at a local college to learn the basics of Photoshop, I met a Chinese lady that did amazing artwork with just charcoal! So fluid and easy for her from the years in the old country where all she had was coal.

These stories taught me that while you might have to find the right medium, it's the persistence of the vision that matters. Sure, I've told people what program I use. And they rush out and buy it, only to give up on it almost immediately. I mean, just because you buy a plane, doesn't mean you can fly it.

And yes, definitely, in the years of learning how to use a computer, I have crashed it a bunch of times. I mean, if you must know, right now I have an HP laptop running Windows 7. While most artists use Macs, as far as I am concerned, once you are in a program, it runs just about the same on either platform.

One simple engineering fact that you can not overlook though is that computers run hot when they are left on at full bore for days on end; so I figured out how to keep mine running cooler. I've also done some ‘over-clocking’ on it, going from a dual core running at 2.2 MHz to 2.4 (cutting the time of one of my bench marks from 9 to 7.5 minutes), which really adds up on the longer renderings I do! For me, improving the cooling was like I was hot-rodding a car!

You should see it: there is a heat sink sticking out of the bottom of my laptop now and a rather large ducted fan blowing on it. I made a base for it all that fits onto the arms of my chair that encloses it all and tilts the keyboard towards me. I tried so many different fans (I even used a full sized window fan) and all kinds of manner of ducting the air to the dozens of different heat sinks I made. I'll post the pictures some day.

Zac, I read an input your provided on Facebook about ‘Extra Communication Perception’, which I thought was a really fascinating concept. Can you explain to us what is this ‘ECP’?
ECP is a realisation of all that the computer and the Internet has brought us. Remember in the movie 'The Matrix' where Neo asked why do his eyes hurt and Morpheus says, "Because you've never used them before"? Right now, there are millions of conversations going on around the world through the net, people relating how their day went, things they've seen and done. Before the Wouter (I just coined that, computer/web combined, lol), this was impossible. ECP is simply the hearing aid we never had before.

Zac, perhaps this is TOO personal, but does your art manage to support you financially at this time? Is that even your target?
I wish it supported me!! Show me the artist that who wouldn't love to have that freedom!

How does Zac Lowing view his future in the arts? Put differently: where do you want to or intend to go with this?
I mentioned earlier being the garage band. Well, someday I hope to be Aerosmith! So I'll keep on rocking, 'cause it's a long, way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll!

Finally, what is something about Zac Lowing that you could tell us that no one else knows and that will hopefully not get you arrested, deported, or be made to vote for Sarah Palin in 2012?
My life isn't as cool as I have let on. Sure, there might be some interesting chapters, it's the other ones I don't necessarily want to re-address.

Heh, it's a hard question Zig... most of my secrets are the same as anyone else’s. I do have a thing for people that do things for a higher purpose. For example, I once read about a group of Japanese guys that climbing a mountain that had never been climbed before. About 50 feet from the top, they stopped. They all decided to honour the mountain by not violating the peak.

Most people don't get that. I do ... and it gives me chills.


Zac’s work can be found via various Internet links (see below) as well as by becoming a ‘friend’ on Facebook of his rather innocent sounding ‘alias’. You are cordially invited to come play the ‘do you see what I see’ game and in general have your mind blown away on a daily basis.

For more, please see these links. Enjoy! (be sure and check out all the various folders!)

The famous 'crashing spaceship' video : (it pains me to watch!!) (a plethora of different offerings [really, count them!!])

or join so many of Zac’s fans regularly at his active Facebook page under ‘Joe Smith’ at!/profile.php?id=100001427029265
(there are some other ‘remnants’ on Facebook but good luck getting them to pop up if you search under Zac Lowing... remember, fans ‘Facebook: you get what you pay for!!’)


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Zac Lowing or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations.

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