"I had to figure out a safe way to make a living in isolation and decided to start doing stained glass again."
Describe yourself as a maker/artist/creative
I've worked in a lot of mediums over the years, my parents are both artists that met at MICA in the late 60's, and made their livings as graphic designers until their retirements. I studied drawing, painting, and design at MICA and Towson State, and then apprenticed under and worked for world-renowned artist Saul Farber doing stained glass production for most of the 90's. After his sudden death in 1998, I did stagehand work for IATSE Local 19, and then was a custom picture framer for the next 10 years while continuing independent study of graphic design, photography, and video production, which I have been doing as a freelancer for the past 10 years.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on building my own stained glass business, doing mostly commissioned work which has been primarily pet portraiture, as well as creating original "pop art" pieces for my own enjoyment as well as in the hopes of selling them.
Has your work shifted in response to the pandemic? How?
At the time the pandemic hit I was co-owner of two photography studios under the name Atomic Canary, which we rented out to other photographers by the hour as well as used for our own projects, one of which was an annual tongue in cheek compilation of my "art smut" model photography called Playnerd Magazine. After it became obvious that we would need to close the studios indefinitely, I had to figure out a safe way to make a living in isolation (I am at higher risk because of my age and recent surgery), and decided to start doing stained glass again. I set up a small studio in the corner of my bedroom and was commissioned by a friend to do a hanging window panel for her wellness/massage business on Harford Road, using my newer digital skills (as opposed to graph paper and pencil) to design my first piece in almost 20 years. After completing and installing the piece, I then designed and completed a portrait of rapper Biggie Smalls titled "Saint Christopher" as a showpiece (and to see if I could pull it off), and then started receiving requests for more work. Last June, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, and now I'm booked through February 2021.
In your opinion, what role does the creative process play in helping us confront our “new” reality?
For me the creative process has always been therapeutic and empowering, and it makes me sad when someone says they just aren't creative. People are naturally creative, and "talent" isn't something any one person is born with more of than anyone else. Just like speaking, walking, eating ... it's all learned behavior applied to natural capability, so when I hear someone say they "wish they were artistic", I hear "creativity wasn't encouraged when I was a child," but it's never too late to learn how to do something you want to do. We all have the ability to transform ourselves and the world around us, you just have to put in the work.
Any advice or insight you'd like to share?
My best advice for people that want to be more creative but don't know where to start is to ask yourself "what do I want to see in the world that doesn't exist yet, or does exist and we need more of and I can contribute to the evolution of?" and then seek out those people that seem to be doing what you want to do and ask them how they started, and what steps they took to get where they are now. You'd be surprised how many people are happy to share their knowledge and insight once they see that you are just as passionate about what they do as they are.
See more of Zach's work here.