Inspired, motivated, encouraged and influenced by today's Monday Muse, Mr. Zack McDowell. Zack speaks on his life and artistic career with intelligence, passion and heart--you'll quickly realize why he was a clear choice for our blog today.
Hey Zack! What kind of artist do you consider yourself to be?
I’m a director, a photographer and I run a small production company, the DUGUD Lab. I have found running a business takes a certain caliber of creativity. I work mainly on fashion and commercial projects that center simplicity and color. (Some of the brands they've worked with include Dell, DSW, Gore Apparel, Helzburg Diamonds, Home Depot, JCPenny, Mary Kay, Neiman Marcus, Raising Canes, TJ Maxx, Vera Bradley, and ESPEROS!)
Honestly, I never made a conscious decision to be an artist. Growing up in a creative household, I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings to draw birds in our backyard or going for long hikes to shoot and develop prints. Creating art has always been a part of my life in very big ways. Even when I started to make a living as an artist, it took me a couple of years to realize there is artistry to the ads that I create. To me, it just felt like an extension of who I am.
While I wasn’t born with a camera in my hand; I did grow up on set. My mom is a talented hair and makeup artist and I was a child model. Over the years I had opportunities to transition from in front of the camera to behind. I’m really thankful to the many great photographers who took the time to show me how to properly expose an image or how to do some cool trick on Photoshop. At a very young age I was able to gain the tools for what would later build my career.
Where are you from? Where do you live now?
A year ago, I made the big move to New York from Dallas. It's been one of the most fulfilling adventures I've ever been on.
What inspires you?
One of my favorite things to do in New York is walk around, taking in the sights of the city and the people that fill it. I've always been interested in people--learning their stories and what makes them tick. Whether it's the 80-year-old woman with pink hair at the bodega or the man singing on the subway, it inspires me and makes me want to tell stories that compliment the lives of those around me.
What do you like most about your ESPEROS backpack?
Living in a transient city, this backpack is essential. I like the textured canvas and the pop of color it adds to my mostly black, white, and gray wardrobe. I also like the well thought out pockets and dividers. I can throw my camera in, pull the drawstring, and know that my stuff is secure.
What does our slogan "carry hope" mean to you?
I've been fortunate enough to travel around the world and no matter where I go there always seems to be an underlying message of hope. During my trips I have seen how different people deal with the concept of faith. Some carry it, while others struggle with it due to circumstances. In developing countries where access to education may be limited or hard to obtain I've found that when we do the diligent work of listening to a community's needs and support them – we all flourish. Each time I see the message on my backpack I'm reminded to carry a better future for myself and the communities that ESPEROS supports.
Why do you think education is important? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal training?
Education is extremely important. I've always been of the mindset that if you don't learn things formally, you'll figure them out in the real world -- which isn't always easy. I was never really good at school. I didn't understand why teachers gave you standardized tests to gauge things the world is never going to offer in the form of multiple choice. I took a lot of online courses, studied under people who were better than me, and took in any opportunity to practice the skills and knowledge I have today. I'm proud of my non-traditional education.
Do you have any hobbies, talents, near death experiences?
In my free time I enjoy painting portraits of important people in my life. I’ll find a picture of a moment that I really enjoyed and I’ll interrupt it on a canvas. It's time consuming so I don't find myself doing it too often but when I do I find that it’s a good way to reflect on a moment and the time that I spent with that person.
Favorite song you are listening to?
Ah! That is such a hard question. Music is part of my daily ritual. Whether it’s for a photo shoot or just walking down the street, every moment has it’s own song and artist. There are a few songs that years later I still can’t seem to take off my playlist:“Tulips” (Club Version) by Bloc Party
“Humming Bird” by Alex Clare
“Blueberry Pancakes” by Fink
“One Day They’ll Know“ (Odesza Remix) by Pretty Lights
Now, a free-bee! Tell us whatever you would like our audience to know...
I have found that creativity is something that has to be practiced. It’s a culture that you surround yourself with and a ritual of exposing yourself to things that expand your horizons. I’m in the process of launching a new production company in New York City and I couldn’t be more excited for the platform that we are creating. We are constantly working with thrilling clients and looking for new creative endeavors. You can always follow our journey on Instagram (@dugudlab) or at our website (DugudLab.com)
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Zack - you're a rad one. In an industry where it is easy to let your work speak for itself, thank you for sharing with us the things you believe in. Your words on education, people and seeking adventure are pure gold!
Written by Grace Mueller
Spring 2015 Intern