THIS IS ZACH ZONO
Zach Zono is a Cape Town-raised and London-based multidisciplinary artist who - much like us - is inspired by the dynamic and narrative power of bold, vivid color. He recently completed a series of paintings that were influenced - at least subconsciously - by his collection of Rowing Blazers rugbies, and took time to chat with us about his influences, personal style, and what makes fashion and art such natural bedfellows. (Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Rowing Blazers: What inspired you to create this project?
Zach Zono: I’ve always been a fan of Rowing Blazers - especially the rugby-style shirts. I was wearing one of the colourful striped rugbies while I was painting in the studio one day, and noticed I’d used the colours from the shirt on the painting. It wasn’t intentional, but I must’ve been subconsciously inspired by the colours, which was a fun connection to make.
RB: What first inspired you to take up painting?
ZZ: I’ve always been making and creating stuff for as long as I can remember. I’m so fortunate to have grown up in Cape Town, where I was constantly surrounded and emerged in so much nature and culture.
RB: How would you describe your art? Your personal style?
ZZ: My personal style is, in some ways, the antithesis to my art. I lean towards more functional and durable clothing items in classic colours. I’ve always enjoyed dressing a bit more smart - loafers and tucked-in t-shirts. It’s kind of unusual to see me in something as bold as the rugby shirts. I think I’m drawn to them because they reflect a combination of my art and personal style: colourful, but made in more classic silhouettes.
RB: Who are some of your favorite artists?
ZZ: I would have to say Tomo Campbell, Willem De Kooning and Tom Sachs.
RB: Who are some of your personal style icons?
ZZ: My older brother Alex paved the way for me to experiment with style and clothing; he’s always been someone whose opinion and outlook I trust. Other than that, I’ve always admired the characters in Wes Anderson's movies, and how what they wear plays such an important role in their personalities. I always find myself going back to the Royal Tenenbaums.
RB: In what ways do fine art and fashion overlap?
ZZ: I think the primary connection that I always see is the use of colour, texture and shapes to tell a story. It’s always interesting to see when designers are inspired by art, and when artists are inspired by designers.
RB: Why is art important to you? Why is fashion?
ZZ: Being able to make stuff - whether it be through painting, photography or music - is what truly makes me feel content. Even if it's not always good, there’s something so rewarding to me when I’m able to take a project from start to finish. I think I use fashion to support the process; when I feel put-together, I’m more likely to get things done.
RB: What do you like to wear while painting? Is it any different than how you’d normally dress?
ZZ: I try to always separate my paint clothes and everyday clothes, but everything inevitably ends up with some paint on it. I try to tell myself to change into the messy tops or bottoms, but once I’m at my studio I’m just eager to get going. I’ve recently been wearing long sleeves to avoid getting oil paint on my arms - it’s such a pain to try and get off.
RB: What specifically inspired you to create these paintings?
ZZ: These paintings were part of a collection of work I created called What Do You Think. They were inspired by human emotion and the way I was seeing the world at the time. I always try use colours that are offbeat and that wouldn’t normally be seen together.
RB: What is your favorite color or color combination?
ZZ: It always changes for me. I definitely notice when I hyper-fixate on a colour combination, but I always quickly move on to the next. Since my paintings revolve around colour so much, it’s such a fun challenge for myself to keep creating something new. If I did have to pick a favourite colour, though, it would have to be red - there’s just something so striking and emotional about red.
Keep up with Zach at his site and on Instagram. And if you find yourself similarly inspired by the things we make, please reach out - we’d love to hear from you.