EMOTION ON CANVAS :: Exclusive Interview With Artist Zac Franzoni

Artist Zac Franzoni Barrel-dEM
Artist Zac Franzoni
Chicago is a top notch city full of talented artists. One of those artists, Zac Franzoni uses his own technique and different mediums to create colorful explosions of passion. Zac took some time to talk to us today about his craft, technique and influences.

So, how did you get started making this incredible art?

Well, there are a few layers to this answer, actually. I've been making art since I was a kid. My uncle was an artist and I grew up living next to him, so I'd always go over and instantly be emerged in this surrealist world that was his basement studio. It started from there, it's in my genes.

And your family, they all support what you do?

Oh of course, my parents have always been amazingly supportive of my choices. Their house is full of my paintings.

The art I currently make is influenced by necessity, a few years ago I had to put down the paintbrush due to arthritis and tendonitis in my hands, I had to change my style. So the current incarnation of my art came about because i had to come up with a way to paint without manual manipulation.

So your current style - can you tell me a little bit about that - let's say if the canvas was blank, where do you start or is it different each time?

It's different each time. Sometimes I start with a dry, white canvas, sometimes I will paint a base coat to work with, and other times I'll cover it with water and go from there. It depends on my mood, or what effect I'm going for.

Would you call your style free-form or do you have a plan for each piece, or is it somewhere in between?

I'd say 3/4 free-form, I have actually coined the term "Abstract-Feelism". I do whatever I feel like doing at the time. It's all about the flow.

and speaking of the flow ... I once read somewhere that you often listen to The Rolling Stones, get into a trance and let the art practically make itself ... is that accurate?

Ha, yes! I'm all about the tunes, man. Music is a big part of my life, I'll throw on some Kid Cudi, some Stones and go to town. It is like a trance, an hour will go by and feel like 2 minutes. I'll come to, covered in paint with an empty beer and wonder where my mind just went. Sometimes I believe the paintings want to make themselves. That's another reason I love this organic style I have recently adopted so much, the paintings have a life of their own, I just provide the environment. The Renaissance sculptors believed the subject of their sculptures lived within the marble and their job was just to set them free, I believe that is true with a lot of art.

That's a great philosophy - it sounds like an awesome way to live. Have you ever gotten attached to a piece and had a hard time selling it?

Now Children, Let's Share
There are only 2 pieces I have ever been attached to and kept. One is from high school, the first time I really felt something click in my mind while making a piece of art. That piece won me 'Artist of the Month', and the prize was having it professionally framed for free. The second is a piece called "Now Children, Let's Share", it was made while I was in a community college art class. It's hanging in my hallway in my house right now. It embodied all the turmoil of first love, a shitty time in high school, and attempting to find myself artistically. It made me cry when I finished it, no shame in that, the only thing better than crying after making a great piece of art is burning it.

OK, so how do you go about selling your pieces in or around Chicago?

I go about selling my art by hustling, by not only selling my art but selling myself as a product. I'm not just selling a pretty painting to you that matches a couch ... I'm selling you a pretty painting that matches your couch painted by THIS guy right here, by a sometimes overly honest and open struggling artist, by a real person with fears and rent to pay, and mostly likely I've had a beer before talking to you because this type of shit makes me nervous.
But, to be more practical about that answer, I sell wherever I can! I display in coffee shops and galleries, I have been doing street and art festivals for 3 years now, and I have a manager who helps hook me up with shows and leasing out my art. It's a combined effort, it's not easy.

I've also seen you create art live, it's amazing to watch ... how often do you do live art?

I don't do live art as much as I used to. It began about 8 years ago when I started painting live at a weekly event at a gallery called Dulcenea in Wicker Park. Then on to painting monthly at local Burning Man parties. I had to slow down because of my previously mentioned struggled with my hands. I do however had a huge, huge project in the works at the moment. I am painting an 8 foot wide painting on stage, live, at the Joffrey Ballet with 8 dancers for a 12 minute piece. November 8th. It's for a charity called EMBARC, they help underprivileged youth on the southside of Chicago. It's definitely the biggest moment of my artistic career. I am also showing a new series of 9 pieces in their event space for the cocktail party after the performance.

Now you have many fans out there and they had some questions to ask as well, do you mind?

Woah ... fans? That's an odd sensation. Yes, bring it on!

What is hard that people don't understand about making art for a living?

People have this misconception that painting and making art isn't actual work. Well, I go to the lumber store, I buy wood and build canvases. I work late nights, I spend hours upon hours online filling out applications and updating the dozen websites I use to try to build my online presence. I wake up at 3 am with designs and ideas in my head and can't sleep. I spend way more than an average work week actually working, it's more than just physically draining, it's an emotional process as well. Also, you gotta learn to life like a poor college student again.

Do you sell a lot of reproductions? Where do you get those printed?

I only recently had prints done, and I've only sold a handful. I'm definitely more into selling originals. Texture is a big part of a painting. But my buddy Franklin has a print shop and does a bang-up job.

Dead In The Water

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

Wile E Coyote. I'm a hopeless romantic and love dynamite.

Hahaha ... well I hope you catch that pesky roadrunner!

If i did catch him, I'd just want to have a cocktail and play a game of chess.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I aim high, so I'd say either hiking on top of a mountain or a rich, wildly successful artist with a warehouse sized studio and a Warhol-like following.

Well, Id say that you are definitely on your way. Is there anything else you want to add?

I'd just like to say to all the youngins out there, if you're in art school or otherwise - never, ever titled your art "Untitled". It drives me insane, I will find you, I will hunt you down. I will make you take a shot of whiskey with me and title your art. That drives me nuts.

Also, thank you Noble, this has been fun.

Thank you so much Zac for your time!

Check out more of Zac's work at www.zacfranzoni.com/

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