G A R D E N E A T S is getting ready to publish an article on non-GMO corn growing. I was on Instagram and landed on an image that encompassed the entire article- one by artist, Izaac Zevalking of Recycled Propaganda. Instantly I started flipping through Izaac’s other photos and was drawn to how he brings socially relevant topics to your mind through mixed media art. Initially I thought of simply asking to feature his photo for our article, but then decided I’d really like to know a little bit about the thought behind his art. He’s a really down-to-earth, think before you act kind of guy. And, was awesome enough to share a conversation with me so I could introduce him to you today.
Let us know what you think! And, if you want to see Izaac’s art in person, read til the end…
Christine: Did you go to college? Why or why not. What did you study? Do you think college is important these days?
Izaac: Y E S ! I did my Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Technology and my Master’s Degree in 2D & 3D Visualisation.
I view higher education in incredibly high regard, an essential part of becoming a well-balanced contributing member of society. From my experience, university instilled and refined a valuable sense of skepticism and curiosity. It also developed my sense of perspective, weighing up and adjusting opinions based on several sources of information, instead of ill-informed one-dimensional gullibility that is so common today. This constant critique and questioning definitely transferred from my academics to myself and my surroundings and is definitely the foundation of Recycled Propaganda.
To me a great tragedy and paradox of USA and increasingly the UK, is that these seemingly developed countries are making further education more inaccessible by making it more expensive and elitist, moving away from the meritocracy that I think it should be.
Christine: Ah, yes, agreed. I was really drawn in with some of your more provocative designs; especially the one you featured on vaccinations and GMO crops. I was even more impressed with the well-researched commentary and quotes that accompany them. Do these reflect your personal philosophies/ethics?
Most of my designs do have an element of personal belief, but more so a personal sense of what issues need highlighting in society. I really try hard to make my designs ambiguous, the reason I love design and art is that it is open to interpretation. There is no right or wrong answer. To me this reflects life; there is no right or wrong just perspective. When people ask me what does this piece of art mean, I always reply, “to me it means…”.
I really enjoy designing for real-time and relevant issues, especially being a face for a group or movement, to me this transforms the designs from idealistic visual porn to pertinent and relevant social commentary. I love using quotes as they give validity as well as dimensionality and perspective to the designs, however, sometimes I feel like they ground the design too much and reduce the ambiguity and hence the critical thought of the work.
“Official data shows that large scale vaccination has failed to obtain any significant improvement of the diseases against which they were supposed to provide protection.”
– Dr. Sabin, developer of Polio vaccine
The genetic modification of food is intrinsically dangerous. It involves making irreversible changes in a random manner to a complex level of life about which is little known. It is inevitable that this hit-and-miss approach will lead to disasters. It must disrupt the natural intelligence of the plant or animal to which it is applied, and lead to health damaging side effects.
– Dr. Geoffry Clements, leader of the Natural Law Party, UK
“One reason for the alarming increase in antibiotic-resistant infections is that antibiotics are routinely given on a massive scale to farmed animals who do not need them. Figures for the EU are hard to obtain, but an incredible 80 % of antibiotics sold in the US are used in animals. They are given because they act as growth-promoters and they are given to prevent the spread of infection on overcrowded factory farms. Both these uses are unnecessary: animals should not be forced to grow unnaturally quickly and they should not be kept in such close confinement.”
– Richard Mountford, Animal Aid
Christine: I often get dirty looks when I comment that although we have the potential to thrive collectively, we’re still allowing our communities to devolve by not working more cooperatively. How do you see this/can we all get along?
Izaac: I often say that the solution to most of the world’s problems is empathy. If we all were more understanding of how people came to be the way they are and appreciate why they do the things they do I really believe we could all live more cooperatively.
Christine: Obamacare. Bullshit or cool. Why?
Izaac: Undecided. I think good for sick people but bad for me?
However, the overwhelming feeling it leaves me with is disappointed. For me it typifies the common societal focus upon treating the symptom and not the cause. Why in such a ‘developed’ country are so many of us sick? Fast food? GMOs? Pollution? Chloride? Sedentarism? Technology? Over-worked? Lack of education?
Christine: “Anarchy Is Contagious”? How so?
Izzac: This design has several meanings to me, on a basic level it represents how popular anit-establishment perspectives would be if they were better known. However, to me anarchy is a word frequently used and yet if we explore what anarchy actually means (‘a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority’) to me, it is not an intelligent or desirable system. I think people use this word to represent a pro-thought perspective, hence, to me here I am using the work anarchy to represent an idea. Which definitely is contagious!
Christine: What are your thoughts on the abundant fear to think freely in America?
Izaac: I don’t think there is a fear to think freely in America. I think there is an inability. Free-thinking and free-speech is often said to be an inalienable right that sets America aside from the rest of the world. However, I don’t think American society nurtures or encourages ‘free-thought’. Worst still, you could argue it actively discourages it. If anyone’s afraid of free-thought and analysis, it’s those in the upper-echelons, the ones who control and ‘own’ this country, for if everyone was well informed and thought independently, those people may no longer be in a position of power.
I would also argue that there is a lack of motivation to think freely. Affluence and apathy go hand in hand. I think most people would prefer to live in their confortable and secure lives than disturb their blissful mind to critically analyze themselves and their surroundings, which would surely only breed discomfort and frustration. I think critical thought is like a fire, too little and it will disappear completely, too much and it could consume you.
“Could Buddha achieve enlightenment in today’s sensory society?”
– Izaac Zevalking
Christine: Do you maintain a practice of meditation?
Izaac: Meditation is something I really want to explore more. I recently started doing bikram yoga again which has a great meditative component. Also, in the bath I get pretty lost in myself ..
Christine: How do you stay healthy everyday?
Izaac: Veganism, juicing, weights, cardio, yoga, herbal tea, sex, laughing, posture, hydration, sauna, bee pollen…
I Z A A C comes from an extremely artistic background with his mother, Carol Jephcott, and sister, Miriam Zevalking, both having successful professional art careers lasting decades. Izaac grew up in a small rural Warwickshire town in the UK, where his creativity and free thinking were encouraged at a young age. Naturally he flourished in art within an academic setting, and at the age of 14 he was in already in a National Exhibition in Birmingham. In the following few years he became dissatisfied with the traditional nature of art at his school, where controversy and experimentation were not common place.
At this point in his career Izaac, decided to study Sports Technology at the world renowned Loughborough University, opposed to the more traditional subjects and art schools. Here he learned a wide variety of subjects from mechanical engineering to sports science. He excelled graduating top of his class of 100 and receiving a scholarship to study at a Master’s level. Izaac chose 2D and 3D visualization as his Master’s degree and thought it would help him get back in touch with his more liberal and expressive self. Within this course he experimented with countless techniques including metal fabrication, 3D printing, laser cutting and 3D CAD. Once again he shined and graduated top of his class.
After his University education he was offered a position doing Multimedia Design for a sports coaching company. Here he fine-tuned his graphic, web and animation skills but he soon grew tired of the unchallenging and uncreative nature of his work and surroundings and decided to leave the job after over a year of service. Seeking adventure, opportunity and excitement, Izaac got a job doing the graphic design for the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, so packed up his life and moved on to his next challenge. At this job he really mastered simplicity within graphics and developed his independent and critical thinking. However, what he didn’t expect was the huge cultural disparity, he was always obsessed with human and social behavior and issues, but moving to a new country really opened his eyes to how shielded and uniformed he felt many Americans were and felt passionate about trying to change that.
After months of planning and thought, Izaac decided he needed to push his career in a direction that would better the world and inform the public about pertinent issues. He decided to achieve this the only way he knew how, via the use of the visual. He immediately quit his full-time job and started ‘Recycled Propaganda’. His thought was to counteract mass- media propaganda by creating visuals that were either contradictory or ambiguous, with an aim to promote thought and conversation and ultimately inspire personal and societal change. This is achieved through multiple platforms, including digital design, digital prints, stickers, tshirts, canvas art, murals and installations.
Currently you will find Izaac hosting and a painting at the weekly art show at Artisan Nightclub, displaying his work at the Final Friday show at the Palms every month, selling artwork at a booth at First Friday and Vegas Streats every month, doing one off events (i.e. Treasures in motion in September and Foodie fest in October) and one off exhibitions (i.e. RAW art in October and charity benefit at BlackBird gallery in November). Most recently Izaac has rented a warehouse where he will be setting up a gallery space, be doing larger art works and hosting monthly events with other local artists.
Images and quotes provided by Izaac.