DH: I first came across your art in Deep Ellum. A mural of Nolan Ryan clocking Ventura on the side of Wits End, which is now permanently closed. Over the years Deep Ellum has gone from a place you wouldn’t want to be at night to the creative hub of Dallas. How have you seen it change over the years and what does Deep Ellum mean to you as an artist?
IZK: Deep Ellum was where I started my mural career, so over the years I have contributed many murals and participated in a lot of art related events and made life long connections with other artists. Deep ellum has definitely changed, some for the better, some for the worst, but as artists we adapt and find ways to keep the spirit of the neighborhood alive. Deep ellum to me, means more than just a bunch of bars and venues. There’s always been creative energy there for over 100 years. There’s a spirit to it that draws in creative people.
DH: How did you get into the street art scene and what inspired you to paint murals?
IZK: I started doing graffiti with my brother Jerod (DTOX) at a young age. Abandoned buildings, tunnels, trains, bridges, etc. When I was introduced to better quality spray paint was when things changed. The 1$ Walmart cans just didn’t compare. I met some other graffiti artists and saw that some of them were being hired to do mural work. It seemed natural for me to take my skills and get paid instead of risking jail.
DH: Your art is diverse ranging from portraits, anime, realism, even graffiti lettering. What helped you form and perfect these styles?
IZK: My childhood was a very creative environment. My two brothers are also artists. My parents, grandparents, uncles, etc…everyone had a creative motivation. So I was encouraged from a young age to draw and paint. Comics had a huge influence on me. Sam Keith, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, Alex Ross, Jean Giraud (Mobius), etc. I never attended college so after high school I studied on my own. Anatomy, realism, portraiture, anime, etc. Before the internet me and my brothers would just collect all types of magazines and toys and comics, so my diversity comes from my childhood being a collage of all of our favorite styles.
DH: To many your murals are as close to viewing a work of art in a museum some people will get. Does this affect you when deciding what to paint?
IZK: I prefer public art because it doesn’t require anyone having to go indoors or feel like they have to pay to experience it. I consider the public when I choose mural ideas. I consider what will be most pleasing, or sometimes disturbing. If I can make even just one person pause to look at my creation then I’ve done my job. It’s also a good way to promote. People see a mural they like, follow me online and share. Murals are like giant business cards.
DH: Anytime you put your art out into the public space you do so knowing that it might not last forever. It takes a lot of time and energy to paint one of your murals and a part of you has to be in every piece. How do you deal with the uncertainty that a work might be painted over or vandalized?
IZK: I’m lucky that the majority of my work doesn’t get vandalized, but when it does I’ll just go repair it. Most other artists recognize the effort that goes into a mural and they respect it. As far as longevity, I go into each mural knowing that some are more temporary than others. Ultimately nothing I create will last forever, so while it can feel bitter sweet when one is destroyed, I also know that its a necessary part of this medium. I appreciate the window of time each mural gets and don’t get hung up on it.
DH: Do you have any advice for the younger generation that might want to get into street art?
IZK: Younger artists should always learn their history and be willing to learn. I’m twenty plus years in and I still learn new techniques, so it’s important to not think you’re too special or above anyone else. Artists should always collaborate instead of competing. Too often, we judge others based on where they are at in their journey. Help each other out. Ask for help. And above all, don’t be afraid to dream big. The only thing inbetween an artist and their goals is a series of conversations and commitments.
DH: Have you ever thrown up any non commissioned street art?
IZK: I still do non commissioned street art. As I’ve gotten older I’m a lil more refined in my choices. The location, the medium and the message have to have intention. I’m not running around painting just anywhere anymore. I still do an ongoing “endangered animals” series every time I travel to different states and countries. There’s a few Timelapse videos of my process on my YouTube channel.
DH: You’ve been painting murals for almost two decades. Do you have any that stand out as your favorites?
IZK: The Nolan Ryan mural got me a lot of attention, so that was a personal favorite. Got me on the news and in publications. Another favorite was when I traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, in a mountain town called San Cristobal where I painted two murals. My most notable mural is in Harlem at the national black theater, with a portrait of Afrika Bambaataa, one of the originators of HIPHOP culture.
DH: Let’s take it back to Deep Ellum. You painted murals for Select Start. I grew up in the 80’s and the nostalgia of seeing the Super Mario Brothers characters took me back. What are three things from your childhood that bring back the memories?
IZK: Video games for sure, I painted an entire arcade in Haltom City called “Electric Starship Arcade”. That was probably the most fun I’ve had painting in a while. Also anything Animation. My favorite film is AKIRA and my favorite cartoon as a kid was X-MEN. And another thing that always brings me back to my childhood is 90’s hip hop music. Too many artists to name.
DH: Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
IZK: I’m grateful to the Deep Ellum community for always supporting me, and the greater DFW METROPLEX for keeping me busy with murals and paintings over the years. Without the cities support I wouldn’t be able to travel and create in all the places I’ve been and plan to go next.
For more on IZK check out his website HERE.
Follow IZK on Instagram HERE.