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Artist Interview: Ernest Zacharevic

May 19, 2016
7 min read
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Boy in a sailboat Lisbon Credit Ernest Zacharevic

Experimentation lies at the heart of ZACH’s style, with the only constant being the dedication to his ever-changing concepts. He removes the restriction of artistic boundaries, moving freely between the disciplines of oil painting, stencil and spray, installation and sculpture; producing dynamic compositions both inside and outside of the gallery space. Take a break and enjoy this conversation with one of our favorite artist on the scene.

Hello Zach, how are you doing these days? What are you into at the moment?

Painting, mostly.

I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of joy and predestination that shines from your subjects. There’s an odd power that surrounds your characters and it pushes them through their own destiny. Is it something you’re looking for or is it just my private view?

I try and use composition and character to explore universal concepts rather than focus a singular narrative. We all share an understanding of what these are, but we all experience them in unique ways

Style Wars, Singapore, 2013 Photo Credit Ernest Zacharevic

It seems you manage to weave together a playful spirit of childhood with important issues like the economic crisis and the intrusiveness of media in our lives; which comes first – the playfulness or the social commentary?

I see one as an attitude and another as a subject in my work. Most of the time those two come hand in hand with no particular order.

The concept of an “invisible world”, an hidden treasure that adult people cannot see, is a vibrant topic through your production. Could you describe the urgency of telling this story?

The invisible world is the product of the imagination. When a child doesn’t have all of the information, they create make-believe to complete the story. My paintings employ the same ideas, I create moments that exist in no particular space, engaging in something non specific…leaving enough space for the viewer to fill in the gaps.

Photo Credit Maciej-Krüger poland Warsaw 2015 Street Art Doping Project

What do you have in common with a teenager, I mean, when you were 13, what did you want to be?

Ive always wanted to be an artist, my major inner debate happened when I was 12,  trying to figure out whether I wanted to be a sculptor or a painter. I still haven’t answered that…

Your murals have always had a strong concept, I think the evidence is clear since it works both on a small and on a large scale. It’s not so obvious nowadays, since we see a lot of huge walls that would not be so impressive painted on a regular canvas. What’s your point of view about scales?

The idea always comes first for me and this determines the scale and the medium, which changes from piece to piece. Going Big can be a fun challenge however delivering the concept is always a priority to me.
Adam De Coster NYC 2015 Photo Credit Ernest Zacharevic

Let’s go back for a moment to your beginnings, what was your urgency in starting painting on the walls outside, and what did you find during this process?

Public art was always something I was passionate about. Exploring urban architecture, finding how artwork can coexist with the ambiance of a particular location can be really fascinating. That and a bunch of naughty friends put me on a track of graffiti which got me through my teenage years, however I never managed to adopt the styles dominating within the movement and focused more on the directions I learned at the art school. After graduating I spent most of the time travelling. Not having a studio made the streets a convenient alternative to a canvas letting me carry on my art practice without settling down for too long.

Christmas Island May 2016 Photo Credit Ernest Zacharevic

If you look at those pieces, do you see something completely different from now? How has your work evolved over the years from when you were beginning?

I like to believe that I have evolved… But when I look back over my works from 10 years ago or more I see that I have remained pretty close to the concepts that first interested me. Yes the technical processes, the scale and style is far from what it used to be but the subjects and the inspirations that I explore and communicate, remain the same.

And what about now, what pushes you through your art, what’s the engine power of your motivation?

Being able to practice what you are passionate about is quite a luxury now a days. Just knowing I have that option at the moment is enough of the reward. Unlike other jobs, you are wholly accountable and responsible for succeeding or failing in maintaining that freedom.

Colab with STROK inspired by homless community in Hawaii 2015 Photo Credit STOK Ernest Zacharevic

If you could change one thing about being an artist, what would it be?

Being an artist is a relative term, everyone has different experiences of what it means to be one. Personally there is nothing i’d change in my experience. It’s important to make the most and learn from whatever the circumstances you are in.

Short answer. Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.


Something you want the World to know about you.

With social media now days its so easy to communicate, everything I would want to be known is already out there.

Something that annoys or frustrates you about people.

Labelling, I find it can be very limiting in terms of potential.

What’s overrated/underrated today?

Overrated: craft beer. Underrated: music

Enjoy Graffiti 2015 NYC Photo Credit Ernest Zacharevic 4

What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?

Now as always I spend my days on the road floating across various projects and festivals I get seduced with which normally fill up my schedule. However once in a while I love to break the routine and take couple of months off to curate something of my own. Have one of those breaks coming up towards the end of the year, its a little off the beaten track and certainly the most ambitious project I’ve undertaken to date but it’s still a little early to share the details!

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