artLIVE! Artists: Interview with Zak Ostrowski

Note: This article was originally posted on the Las Vegas Fashion Council website and was copied and pasted for my own blog to use as my own content. To see the original post, click here._______________________________________________________________

Local artist, Zak Ostrowski, is making leaps and bounds in his career as he showcases his art installation, Gravitation, at the fabulous Delano hotel here in Las Vegas. Despite his busy schedule, I had the chance to catch up with Zak and ask him a few questions about his work, inspiration and his personal thoughts on the Las Vegas art community. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I just turned 35, and I got my undergrad at the University of New Mexico in English and Art. I got my graduate degree from UNLV in Architecture. I’ve been doing art, design, and architecture since I was about 18 years old. I’ve seen some of your work and I notice you’re not afraid to experiment with different types of mediums. What inspired you to start experimenting with different art forms?

I think for me, my architectural background heavily influences my designs for my architectural work. Architecture explores a lot of reality, form and environments. That changed the direction of my art a lot once I got more involved in that.

Who would you say is a big inspiration for you?

That’s a tough one. I don’t have a particular artist that inspires me, but I have a lot of artists I like and admire. But I think if I was to name anything that inspires me it would be nature and humanity. For me, the natural environment is so inspirational, but more in terms of how things that we make as people sit in context within that, how we interact with the natural environment. Tell us how artLIVE! connected you with working with Delano?

I was contacted to be part of artLIVE! and I was really excited to participate. With the mannequin, I did something a lot different than my typical style. At that point I was experimenting with spray paint and some different patterns. The mannequin I made was Vegas influenced, something really fun and funky. The event was fun, and my piece got auctioned off. A week later, I got an email from the Delano saying that they were interested in talking to me about doing something for them and then it just progressed from there. I got the opportunity from being at artLIVE! I’ve always believed that you never know what opportunities can lead to much bigger ones.

Your exhibit at Delano is called Gravitation. What was the idea behind the pieces you created?

The concept of Gravitation is about pulling opposite forces together, kind of like how gravity pulls you down, like a form of attraction. The Delano is a very beautiful space and I wanted to incorporate six different pieces that might not seem to relate at first, but when you look at them from a different perspective, you can see that they all relate and they pull together.

In the lobby there are three pieces. The focal piece is the solar piece, which pulls at the one that’s adjacent to it. And then there’s one off of the elevator lobby that’s got a similar color palette of charwood. The one over by check-in has the same concept. It’s like they’re all gravitating together. Reading through the great feedback on your exhibit, is it true that you were inspired by the Las Vegas desert?

100% percent! Exactly. One thing I thought about was Delano’s floor has a reflective quality to it. So when you step back and look at the pieces from about 30 feet away, it basically reflects on the floor so it almost looks like a mirage, like you’re in the desert. It’s very dramatic. As an artist here in Vegas, what is your opinion on the art community in this city?

There’s definitely a lot of talent here, there always has been. I think the hardest thing in Las Vegas is trying to get the talent to work together because it tends to be somewhat cliquey. I think what Vegas really needs is more gallery space and also more museums here. Most cities with successful art communities typically have some museum. Reno, for example, has a really nice museum, a strong art community and they’re a smaller city than we are. So it’s interesting and odd at the same time that Northern Nevada has a stronger art community than we do because we’re much more international in a lot of ways.

But it’s good here! I’ve been in Las Vegas for the past 5 years and I’m seeing it grow toward its potential. The city is doing a good job with incorporating a lot of public art programs, which is key. The city is on the right track and the next five years will tell where Vegas is at.

One thing that’s really cool with fashion is companies like Louis Vuitton work with a lot of artists that do special graphics for their purses or their clothing. It would be cool for local artists to do more stuff like that. I have a buddy that’s actually done that before. I’m on the board of DAC (Discovery Arts Center), the largest nonprofit art division in Nevada. What we’re doing is having a series of artists design different graphics on socks and the money goes to the non-profit. So things like that are really cool.

What would be your piece of advice for artists that are starting out?

I would just tell them to persevere. The life of an artist is very hard. It doesn’t matter how talented they are, they could be the most amazing artist there is but there will still be challenges. More than anything they need to network, get out there and be social. There are going to be some artists out there who know just the right people, who are somewhat reclusive but they can be successful. But I think with the way the world is progressing, it’s much harder to be the reclusive artist that gets well known and successful just because people want to see things a lot faster.

Also, don’t fear failure. I’ve had so many projects where I got 2nd best or third best. All that did was make me work harder. If you don’t give up, you will be successful.

See photos of Zak’s Gravitation exhibit in the pictures below. (Picture credit: Lucky’s Camera)