We had the good fortune of connecting with Zane York and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Zane, what is the most important factor behind your success?
As a painter, there are numerous external, quantifiable measures of success (gallery and museum exhibitions, sales, critical acclaim, etc.), but these external factors do not necessarily align with the ultimate success of the artist; in fact, they often run counter. I see success as growth by way of a deepened understanding of existence, and distilling and communicating that insight through paint. These insights tend to be hard-won through diligence, exploration, and application, as well as accepting the role of failure. I am at my best when intuition guides my vision and a delicate combination of arrogance and humility forms the base of my craft (on their face, these ideas align with the romantic notion of the starving artist, but I am not romantic and I don’t have much patience for starving). A certain purity is required for the chance to make anything meaningful and the sacrifices made to those ends vary from person to person. I feel incredibly lucky to have a lot of support in my life which enables me to focus on my goals.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I mostly work as a painter and draftsman. My early interests and training had me working representationally and that interest has never waned – in fact, the specificity of tangible things is a big part of my inspiration. Many themes course through my work; impermanence, transmography, the reimagining of the mundane and overlooked, life, death, disquiet, and absurdity. Absurdity is in many ways the keystone and it is intrinsically tied to beauty in my mind. Irony, tragedy, discovery, accident, epiphany, and chaos engulf our very existence and elicit every manner of emotion from glee to horror. For me, it is the beauty of being. My work largely focuses on nature and curiosities; you will see animals, remnants, cats, insects morphing into flowers, and even the occasional human makes an appearance. Traditional narrative is not my primary interest, Instead, I tend to offer up scenes that are frozen in time at a moment of potentiality. That is where I look for poetry.

Finding my way with my work has been circuitous. My interests are slightly unconventional, and my subjects don’t fit neatly in any genre per se. I don’t consider what I do surreal, nor dark, it is very much tied to tradition, but isn’t stuck in the past, I am very aware of the contemporary dialog, but I find most of it to be of little interest. I follow what compels me and in that way, I am sure it has worked as a hindrance in some areas of my career. However, I find it’s the only way for me to work, it is what I find pure and genuine.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a day off to see some things I keep it low-key. I live in Brooklyn and there are a million exciting things to do (and you could easily have thousands of unique and amazing itineraries which are equally or more exciting than mine). I’d start in my neighborhood of Greenpoint and get breakfast at Peter Pan Bakery. It’s a great throwback coffee counter with some of the best donuts around (Greenpointers will fight you if you say differently). After that I would likely go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick, see a few shows at galleries, or if I am up for it, I might make the trip to the Cloisters. The art culture in New York is still second to none and I can spend hours lost inside museum and gallery walls. Next, a trip to The Strand Bookstore to see what’s new. The Strand is a New York institution that lives up to its reputation. After that, perhaps a stop-off at Evolution to check out their natural history items and do a bit of shopping. I would head back to Greenpoint at that point to grab dinner at Paulie Gee’s, it is one of the finest pizzerias in the city, and another great neighborhood spot. If I were to finish the night with a drink, I would stop off on my way home to any one of the terrific local spots; Goldie’s, The Palace, or if i’m looking for a cocktail, Diamond Lil. This could honestly be the start of most people’s day, but I try to keep it reasonable.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am very lucky to have many people to thank for my success. My artistic mentors, T.C. Farley and Wade Schuman. My alma mater; the New York Academy of Art. My various friends, peers, and studio mates who have pushed me along the way. My mother, father, and siblings who have always been supportive and paved the way for me. And my wife and son, who provide motivation, honesty, and inspiration to me on a daily basis.

Website: www.zaneyork.com

Instagram: @zane.york

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zane.york.3

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