Achieve your goals with creative visualization techniques, Interview with Chet Zar Fine Artist/SFX
Artist, animator and master of the weird and wonderful. Chet has designed and created prosthetic effects for top movies like, The Grinch, X Men 3, Fantastic 4, The Ring, Hellboy, Men In Black II, Planet Of The Apes and Batman An Robin. Often working intense schedules, he knows what it takes to come up with world class work on demand.
Chet has also collaborated with good friends rock band “Tool” on their critically acclaimed video ‘Stinkfist’ and every consecutive video since. Mr Zar’s is also a highly esteemed painter whose disturbingly dark and arresting paintings have been exhibited in every hip gallery across California and attracted an extensive online international fan base.
“Addicted To The Good News”
Angel: Your paintings are very dark and sinister and pretty scary, but what are your thoughts on fear. Does it help or hinder you?
I feel that fear is an obsolete emotion left over from our primitive past. I can’t think of one time where I thought, “I sure am glad I didn’t do that thing I was afraid of doing”. At this point in human development, it seems like we should be using our own judgment and intuition to guide us through life rather than fear.
Angel: How often do you find yourself doing things that you’re afraid of?
I mostly do things that I am afraid of out of necessity. Everybody has the natural tendency to avoid the things that they are afraid of. I did a live painting show with Alex Grey and some other artists and that was pretty scary. But I have always had that kind of ‘what the hell’ attitude when it comes to things like that. I just agree to them and dive in when the time comes.
“I Want You” – Artwork by Chet Zar
Angel: Did you always feel like this career choice was the natural path for you and was the transition easy?
I always felt like it was my destiny, really. When I was in the first grade I remember having visions of what my art studio would look like, so I knew all the way back then, that I was an artist. But that still did not make it easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.
Angel: So you knew what you wanted to do, did you make a plan of how you were going to achieve it?
I had a plan since I was about 12 years old that I was going to create monsters for the movies. So I spent my teenage years studying and learning that, on my own, with the intention of building a portfolio of my work and getting a job that way. I got work right out of High School in that field (make up effects). After many years in that field, I decided I wanted to be a painter and focus on my own fine art. So I taught myself how to paint and learned as much as I could about that industry and started showing my work around in any underground art shows that would have me in Los Angeles.
“Cancer Face” – Artwork by Chet Zar
Angel: You mention teaching yourself, but did you ever go out and actively look for help and advice from people in the industry?
Sure. It all started when I was getting into makeup effects as a kid. I used to write letters to Dick Smith who is the Godfather of makeup effects and is known in the industry for being very open and helpful to people starting out. He gave me all kinds of great advice and that stuck with me. I try to do the same for other younger artists who write me. But people should not be afraid to ask for advice. You will get ignored sometimes, but there are plenty of cool artists out there who are willing to share.
Debi Jacobson (owner of L’Imagerie gallery), Chet Zar, artist Robert Williams, Suzanne Williams, James Zar
Angel:When people first start out they often come to a standstill when faced with a lack of money, time, confidence and resources. Did you experience any of these problems?
I had all of those problems, with the exception of the confidence part. I had and still do have moments where I lack confidence, but overall I think I am confident in my ability and confident that if I am not good at something, I can learn how to do it.
I think the best way to overcome all of these pitfalls is to work around them. This is where naturally resourceful people should really have an edge. It’s all about coming up with creative solutions to problems, working hard and being tenacious. Somebody said “90% of success is just showing up” and it’s true. A lot of people complain about a lack of success but never even tried. You can’t expect anything to be given to you.
Artwork by Chets father, James Zar
Angel: You do have to be very proactive and get out there and do it, but as you said, there are people willing to help, did you have any particular people mentor you?
My father, artist James Zar, was a big influence on me. I grew up watching him paint and work hard at perfecting his craft. My mother as well. She taught me that I could do anything I set my mind on. I also worked with an amazing sculptor in the film industry named Mitch Devane who really encouraged me and taught me a lot when I was considering going in to fine art.
Chet Zar his Father James Zar, LC (L. Croskey – Artist plus founder and creator of Cannibal Flower and artist Delphia, Photo by Valentine Reitblat
Lots of people helped me out with advice and support while I was coming up such as L.C. from the Cannibal Flower group shows, Gary Pressman from CoproNason gallery. My friend Adam Jones from the rock band Tool also has given me a lot of support by collecting my work and giving me plenty of encouragement.
Chet Zar with fellow artist Derek Walborn, Photo by Rae Threat
Angel: Who are your hero’s and have you had the chance to learn from any of them?
My heroes tend to be musicians who have done things on their own terms in regards to their art. People like Mike Watt (of the band the Minutemen), Jello Biafra, Ani DiFranco and bands like Nomeansno. People who have just done their own thing, made great art with integrity and slowly built up their fan base without sucking the dick of some big record company. They took the slow and steady approach and they are all still going on their own terms after all these years. Those are the kinds of people I really look up to and try to learn from.
Chet Zar Sculpture
Angel: I find music very inspiring and the catalyst for a lot of my own work. Can you call on your creativity at will or do you have any techniques or ways to come up with great ideas and quality work more often?
Being a designer in the film industry and working 40 hours a week, being creative for 20 years, forces you to learn to call up your creativity at will. Of course there are good days and bad days. It’s a matter of getting your mind to always be thinking about things creatively.
Other techniques I have are listening to music I like. Looking at other artwork that I like also helps me get inspired. Smoking cannabis can sometimes help get the creativity flowing when the time is right. Although, I don’t really use that technique too much anymore since my days are usually a mix of art and business and I have to switch back and forth frequently. I don’t recommend it as standard practice, because it can make you lazy and dependent on it for creativity, which can hurt your creativity in the long run. Meditation and having a clear head seems to help as well.
“Bliss”- Artwork by Chet Zar
Angel: You mention meditation, do you have any special techniques?
My mother taught me how to meditate and do creative viualization techniques which can really help you realize goals. Here is my technique:
For 20 minutes a day, I sit in a comfortable position (I use the half lotus position, just sitting cross legged). I spend the first 10 minutes concentrating on my breathing and emptying out all the noise in my head (this is the hardest part and takes a lot of practice). For the last 10 minutes I imagine the goal I am going for, I imagine myself having the thing I desire, I play it out like I am watching a movie in my head. I also repeat affirmations of the goal and imagine them visually playing across my field of vision, like movie credits or a text scroll. This seems to work for me. Everybody responds differently to different techniques, so I would encourage people who are interested to research the topic more and discover what works best for them.
Meditation is a great way to get in the right mindset, but what about increasing your energy levels, do you exercise regularly?
Actually, I’ve recently discovered how important getting enough sleep and exercising regularly is. You have to make an effort not to burn out too fast. All the standard things are true, get some exercise, enough sleep and eat right. Those things actually help a lot. As I get older it is becoming more apparent.
I have never been much into athletics or physical activity that did not involve art somehow (building armatures for sculptures, etc). At this point I just walk in the morning for a few miles and that has really helped my energy levels and stamina throughout the day.
Angel: What would you say are the biggest benefits of living this type of life?
I think living a creative life teaches you how to creatively deal with everyday life problems.
Angel: One of problems people tend to experience is the fear of failure, what are your thoughts on failure?
I think of failure as an opportunity to learn. If you really tried your best then there is no failure really. True failure is giving up prematurely and for the wrong reasons.
“Fiend” – Artwork by Chet Zar
Angel: How do you feel about selling and promoting your work?
I don’t mind it because I believe in myself and my work. If I thought I sucked and my art had nothing to offer, then I would probably have a problem with selling myself. Everybody sells themselves everyday of their lives in one way or another. If you work a job, then you are selling your time.
It’s just a fact of life, so you might as well do something you love. I don’t mind selling my artwork because it’s the process of painting that really turns me on. So every painting I sell is another opportunity to paint a new piece.
Angel: That’s a great way of looking at it. How did you sell yourself and your talents in the early days when you were starting out?
In makeup effects, I just went to different shops around town and showed my portfolio. In fine art, I contacted some galleries like Cannibal Flower and did the same. I also went to a lot of shows and got to meet people. A lot of success is networking. You have to get out there and meet people in whatever industry you want to be in. you can get a ton of opportunities just by knowing the right people.
Chet Zar with fans Timmy Hwang and Emily
Angel: A lot of people are driven by the need for recognition. Who do you look to for recognition?
It’s nice to get recognition from other artists you admire, but the thing that I like the most is the appreciation from the fans. They are the people I think of first when considering my career. Art really means something to a lot of people and I think it’s important to honor that by always trying to do your best work.
Angel: What type of attitude do you think it takes to be successful?
I think I have grown a lot, I am a little more shrewd than I used to be, that comes from getting experience in the field. A lot of things must be learned the hard way, unfortunately. My basic attitude is to try and be optimistic about things. You can almost always find a bright side to any bad situation. Dwelling on negativity and allowing yourself to be in the role of the victim can really drag you down. The best advice I can give is to work hard and be tenacious. Don’t give up until you have realized your goals.
Check out more of Chets’s artwork and news about his creative projects https://www.chetzar.com/
Over to you
Chet said, “The theory is that the power to create your reality resides in your own mind, so whatever you think about will manifest in your life”. So carry a notebook and jot down the thoughts which occupy your mind the most right now. If they tend to be worrying thoughts about how you will cope if bad things happen, switch this around and start thinking about what would happen if good things started to occur in your life. Watch it like a movie in your mind and then take note as reality starts to mirror your positive thoughts.