You have had several artistic projects ranging from musician, to blogger, to graphic designer. Do you find that you always need some type of creative outlet?
Zachary Carlisle: Haha, as you can see I have a bit of creative A.D.D. I tend to dabble into a little bit of everything because I am (and probably always will be) trying to find any outlet I can to express myself. Art has always played a major role in my life since I was a little kid. Anything from free hand drawing my favorite superheroes, writing short stories and film/comic book scripts, playing and writing music, painting, journalism and now digital art. I have always felt the call (and need) to make things and express my opinions on various different subjects.
How long have you been making your digital art? How did you get into it?
Zachary: I began in early 2018, but didn’t take it seriously until 2020. It all started because I wanted to write a comic book, but didn’t have the money to pay an artist. So I started digitally drawing things myself in hopes to accomplish that goal. When I started doing single digital pieces, the art essentially morphed into something I didn’t expect, as most artistic projects tend to do, but I’ve been having blast. As I continue to discover my “style”, I will probably revisit doing comics or write and illustrate short stories.
What are your influences? Who or what inspires you?
Zachary: My inspiration is deeply rooted in music, and what I call “comic book realism”. I grew up in the Memphis underground screamo, punk/hardcore, and metalcore music scene. That time of my life has continued to shape my artistic approach to a lot of my work, how I promote my work, and how I interact with other artists. I love the “D.I.Y.” approach that growing up in the “scene” taught me. I love building connections with other people, artists, and musicians. It’s the community of it all and the support gained within the community. There’s nothing in the world like a group of artists banding together to build something everlasting. Something whole.
I’m also a super nerd to my core, haha. Comic books are a form of art that is somewhat taken more seriously nowadays, due to film industry, but I feel it’s still a form of art that is underrated for what they have done globally. Comics allow both artists and writers to come together to express themselves politically and religiously, and create some of the most thought provoking stories and art ever created.
Do you create art with a specific message, or do you prefer art for arts sake?
Zachary: I won’t say I make “art for “arts sake”, because I feel artists are inspired by something. Something has to give the individual the drive to attempt a painting, drawing (or in my case digital illustration), or whatever form of art they are driven to create.
Each piece I do is driven by something. Whether I am feeling nostalgic and wanting to work a superhero piece, or I’m feeling a little emo and want to find a way to work up that emotion. Sometimes I like working up what I think would be something funny or goofy that could be a sticker. There is always something driving my creativity. Something that I feel I should work up.
What is your creative process like? What tools and methods do you use to make your art?
Zachary: My earliest work felt very basic. Simple line drawings without much detail. It wasn’t until recently I discovered a way to add more detail in my work, giving that “realistic” touch I felt it needed to convey the message I was trying to make. I work with a Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet, and a few free apps to make the images. I start with a basic image in my head, or a model of some sort. I will draw out the basic outlines of what I am trying to draw, and then fill in the gaps. Once I feel the image is where I want it to be, I will begin cropping the image to the right spots for the final product.
How long have you considered yourself a libertarian?
Zachary: I grew up conservative, but I always felt like the Republican party was full of crap and the democratic party was a little too extreme. For the longest time I didn’t know exactly where I stood, so I felt like I was more of an independent than anything. It wasn’t until about 2013 or 2014, when I was paying attention to local politics, that I started to discover that my politics aligned with the libertarian party.
I started asking myself what the meaning of freedom truly meant on a grand scale. This question was raised both politically and religiously. After I started noticing some things done within my local sphere, I started to look at the country as a whole. The 2016 election really opened my eyes to quite a bit of things that really made me dig my heels into the Libertarian Party. I think we all saw how well that went. Ever since then I have really stayed true to my libertarian beliefs.
What do you think the role of art should be within the libertarian movement?
Zachary: I know this may sound a bit “over-the-top”, but I think libertarians artists should consider themselves almost as if they are freedom fighters in the war against art censorship. Art has, and should always be, a tool to express oneself emotionally, religiously, and politically. Libertarian’s (especially during the war of red verses blue on all media platforms) should step up and be the shining example of how society looks at art. Often times, society looks at someone who doesn’t align themselves with the democratic or republican party as outsiders and fools. They are often times viewed as being someone who is either “woke” or a “terrorist” because of where they stand, but I feel like libertarians should use their artistic abilities to call out the red and the blue for their nonsense.
On the bright side, I think we are doing that. The more I talk to people about my art and my political beliefs with people, the more people appear to be open to the idea of how important freedom of expression really is, and needs to be, in a time when the political hierarchy is clearly dominated by only two parties.
Now, I’m not one to “correct” someone for where they stand religiously or politically, but I feel the more we have healthy conversations, and the more we, as artists, express our political views with the art we make, the more people will start to look at libertarians with an open mind.
Where can people go to view and purchase your art?
Zachary: Instagram is the platform I am most active on. I don’t have a website where people can purchase my work, but if they are interested in purchasing pieces from me they can message me directly on Instagram. I’ll happily sell some of my work to anyone who wants to reach out, haha. They can find me on Instagram @carlisle_artist