Chet Zar: Creature Lives


Chet Zar is an artist that needs no introduction on this site. If you do not know his work…honestly…Where have you been? He has a distinct dark painterly style which is easily recognizable. I want to hang out in the world he creates and perhaps curl up next to one of the gnarly creatures, as he reads me a book with his third eye. If the end is near…I am glad that we got Chet on the site before I see you down in Arizona Bay.

How did you get your first paying art job?
My very first paid work was through a friend of my older brother’s friend, a guy by the name of Jim Beinke. He was at college and working on music videos and low budget films. I was still in High School. I had a makeup effects portfolio of my work and hired me after I showed it to him. My mom used to let me ditch school and drive me up to his place in Hollywood.

Do you have any advice for an artist looking to do artwork for bands?
I don’t really know. I ended up working for Tool because I knew Adam Jones from the Make Up Effects industry. I guess I would say the best course of action is to create some great art and let that be your calling card. Great art won’t go unnoticed.

Who are your artistic influences?
Frank Frazetta, Beksinski, Giger, my stepdad, James Zar, Escher, and lots more. Too many to mention.

What is your studio space like?
It’s a small bedroom in my home. It used to be my youngest son’s bedroom until he moved out. It’s small but has good light. Lots of windows.

Take us through a day in the life of Chet Zar.
I basically get up, have some coffee and get to work. The morning is usually the time I take to answer emails and fill orders from my website. Most of the time I don’t get into creating art until the afternoon. I usually paint until around 11 pm and then I go to bed.

What are the steps in your creative process for a painting?
It changes from time to time, but lately it has been this: I paint a rough composition (from a basic concept) in Photoshop, then I paint a small rough study from the printout. Then I start the painting.


Who are your favorite bands of all time and what are you listening to right now?

Minutemen, NoMeansNo, Devo, Rush, Dead Kennedys, The Who, The Beatles, I could go on and on but those come to mind. Lately I have been listening to Mastodon.

How important is music for you during the creative process?
I enjoy listening to music or watching movies while I paint, but neither one is necessary. The overall inspiration I get from music is very important, though.

How did you start working for TOOL? Are you working on anything for them right now?
I think I started working for them in the mid to late 90′s. I first did some set work and a minor effects gag for the Stinkfist video. I ended up heading the makeup effects crew for all the videos after that. I also created a lot of digital animation for them to play on the back drop at their live shows as well as some t shirts designs and other miscellaneous stuff. I am not currently working on anything for them.

What projects are you currently working on?
Lately I have been doing a lot of commission work. I’m trying to slow down with the gallery shows. I have been working way too hard this year, so I am trying to slow things down a little bit. I always say that but it never happens!

You are very active on Twitter. What role do you think social media plays in the life or career of an artist?
It has really changed everything for me. When I first started selling my stuff online, I didn’t do any of the social media. It wasn’t as popular as it is nowadays. One day, my buddy Norman Cabrerra from the band The Ghastly Ones told me to get on Myspace, and it all grew from there. It makes it so much easier to find your audience and to stay in contact with them. For me, it’s a must.

What artist would you like to see featured on MBA?
Jonathon Begreron.


About Vertebrae33

Through hard work and dedication, Vertebrae33 has established himself as one of the most prolific and exciting illustrators on the scene today.  He has received much acclaim as of late for his innovative designs, attention to detail, and wholly unique, raw style.