Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

I ‘virtually’ met David Zobel via Facebook about a month ago, when a mutual friend posted an original drawing David had created. I’m always fascinated by creative individuals — especially those with kids! So I not-so-secretly started cyber-stalking — er researching — David and discovered that this Baltimore dad sells original artwork on Etsy where he creates unique pen/marker drawings and has his own graphic design firm. As I learned more about David, his wife and their two children through our email conversations, I learned the Zobel family is full of creativity. And David has just as much passion for his family as he does his art.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the article for a custom illustration giveaway!

Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

I should start with an easy “tell me about your life” question but the monsters thing FASCINATES me! Talk to me about monsters. You write on your website that they inspire you.. (Although, as evident from your work, not in a creepy, scary kind of way). You and monsters. How did that relationship come into existence?

Well before I can talk about monsters I need to give you a little backstory that leads its way to monsters. In High School I was told by an art teacher that I should not pursue art any more. The teacher said that I should find something else to do. So, I listened to him and went to Towson University for Communications Studies and liked it. While I was there I took a graphic design course for non-art majors and fell in love with it because I could create art on the computer. I then went to Pratt Institute in NYC for a Masters Degree in Graphic Design.

After Pratt, my wife and I moved back to Baltimore. I worked in graphic design for about 10 years for a couple different design firms and loved it! However, I never did any drawing or painting during this time. While I was working as a designer my wife found an ad for a career fair at CCBC looking for adjunct faculty, and she urged me to go. It was the best thing, I fell in love with teaching and started teaching as an adjunct in the evenings while working full time as a designer. After a few semesters, CCBC hired me as a full time professor in the Art Design and Interactive Media department. I have been teaching there full time since August 2006.

Ok, so why do monsters inspire me? They are the epitome of freedom. They can be whatever you want them to be. Nobody can tell you that you drew the monster wrong. Nobody can tell you that the arms are too short, or that they can’t have three arms. Nobody knows what a monster looks like, so there can be no judgment. I also love monsters because you can be totally free and be like a kid again. I think so many adults forget the idea of being free and just doing something without hesitation. And to me drawing monsters gives me that feeling of being a kid.

When I draw monsters there can be nobody telling me that I should not be doing this.

Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

Obviously you’re a creative person! Take us through the process. How does a work evolve from an idea to a final product? And how does all of that happen with two small kids in tow?

Ha. Yes well it is difficult with two kids. You have to pick your moments. Usually it is my stress relief. Being a creative person I get inspired by the littlest and most random things. I also have my phone or a notebook with me at all times to record inspiration, so that I can use it later.

It is tough to say how a process goes. It is like asking a comedian to be funny on the spot. But here is my best attempt at it: a lot of time my art evolves by chance, mistakes, and having fun. I go outside and just have fun. I relate back to the idea of the monsters and the feeling of playing and letting your inner child out. A huge part of my process is to have fun. If I am not having fun then I am doing something wrong. When I first created my monster letters, I was sitting with my son and I was drawing letters- I am a big typography nut- and I was drawing ones that were mushy and blobby and then he said, “Put eyes on it!!!” From that simple comment came a whole alphabet and many more products. So again, starting with a doodle, playing around and then having fun, is a common creative process for my art.


Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

You’ve actually got two businesses up and running — a graphic design business and a fine art business. Do you sleep? {No, really, do you sleep?} 

Ok, so I teach full time, have my own graphic design business, my own art/illustration business, I run 4 times a week and have two kids. My students always ask me If I ever sleep, so I had to chuckle when I read this. They are convinced I am a robot. And to answer your question I sleep, but from the hours of 11:30-5:30, I’m a morning person!

You work in a variety of mediums. Pen and Ink, Markers, Water Color, Spray Paint, and Digital… have a favorite? How about your kids? What are their favorite media to work with?

Oh man that is a tough question because each medium has a unique quality. But I would say my favorite would have to be markers. I have done digital for years and I think I have mastered it and it is not as exciting. I love spray paint and would not want to part with it, but I cannot do it all the time. Spray painting inside is not ideal. So makers are fun and have the most versatility. And I draw with a particular type of marker, Copic markers, that almost look like watercolors.

My son loves markers, he might be the only 7 year old that has his own set of Copic markers, Micron pens, and spray paint. My daughter loves markers as well. They both do not like colored pencils or crayons.

So what project are you working on now?
So this is exciting… I am working on a monster card game called MonsterTopia. This is a card game I worked on with my son. He and I drew the monsters. the game can be purchased on etsy for $12.00


Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

I am also setting up “A Day of Art with David Zobel,” hosted by a local business, Prigel Creamery. It will be on September 7th from 4-8. It will be an afternoon exhibiting my art with some fun interactive demos, tattoos, etc. Fun for the whole family. Food and music, too!

I’m also illustrating a children’s book that a friend of mine wrote, will be at the Perry Hall Apple Festival on September 21st and 22nd, have a solo gallery show (aptly titled ‘They Told Me I Could Not Draw‘) in October at the CCBC Dundalk Gallery, and my newest book, Typify is now available on Amazon.

{Editor’s Note: Sounds like a busy fall!}

I’m always curious to know what art is hanging on an artist’s wall. What would we see if we walked into your house right now? Besides the occasional pint-sizer crayon drawing, of course.

Definitely you would see a lot of my son’s drawings on the wall and in the kids’ playroom. On the walls right now are some drawing by my wife’s grandfather. They are these amazing drawings that look like photographs! You would also see some work by my wife’s grandmother as well. She was a very talented painter, and we have some of her portrait drawings as well. Some personal photos I took on a trip to Italy are framed and hanging in our kitchen. In my son’s room he has some skateboard art that I did as well as his own and an old drawing my Aunt gave me when I was a kid – a great pen and ink work colored with watercolor.


Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

If you had to name them right now, what three things inspire you?
My Kids, laughter/fun, and seeing other people draw

Favorite way to kick back with the fam?
Jumping on the trampoline. I am really just a kid at heart. Hanging out at home running around, playing games, inventing something, playing wii, really anything as long as I am together with them. I always wanted to be the Dad that made it to every sports game and never put their job ahead of their life. And that is what I always strive for.

My absolute favorite thing is when my kids are outside with me while I’m spray painting in the front yard. To me that is just the ultimate joy.


Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

Want to learn more about David? Check out his website, follow him on Facebook, tweet him on twitter, or browse his Etsy store!

(cool) progeny giveaway

David kindly created this original custom illustration of our family. It’s going to look amazing on our family room wall!


Creative Family: An Interview with David Zobel - (cool) progeny

Want your own custom illustration (could be a family portrait or a name created out of his fabulous monsters)? He’s giving away a custom illustration to one of our readers, too! All you have to do to to win is FILL OUT THIS FORM by midnight on September 9, 2013. Only one entrant per person. Winner must be 18 years of age or older. We’ll announce the winner on our Facebook Page on September 10th!

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Images courtesy of David Zobel.