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Brooklyn-based visual storyteller Linda Zacks draws inspiration from a wide array of sources, but the city she calls home is her major muse. From duct tape to a scribbled-over Polaroid, she says anything can create a creative spark. Linda's art reflects her passion for words and letters; she uses a combination of imagery, materials and text to capture the visceral energy of the urban, modern experience and to "turn a jackhammer into a musical instrument."

Linda is a graduate of Brown and worked as design director for VH1.com before going solo with scream-as-loud-as-you-can-graphics for (among others) Sony Style, Adobe and INQ Mobile. She has created campaigns, posters, videos, illustrations, paintings and a growing arsenal of little handmade books of her own work, including the aptly named I Swallowed A Rainbow, Got Drunk on Air & Puked It up All Over The World.

08.21.12

Creativity Lives Everywhere

If you have a degree in what field is it? BA in art/semiotics from Brown University.

Have you always been able to draw or was it a skill you learned in college? I always say that I learned how to think not draw. But I’ve always been a fearless creator of stuff and my creativity always reared its head in unconventional ways growing up. I found that creativity lived everywhere and “art class” ended up being the least creative place for me. English class—where I often turned in elaborate books instead of just papers—was my art class.

What was your first paid assignment? A kickass internship at The Miami Herald doing editorial illustrations in the art department. I fought hard to get it and it was an AMAZING experience; I was thrown in head first, fast-paced-pulsating-deadlines-sweat. There’s nothing like the rush of a newsroom—real life happening and being captured on crisp pages with fresh ink. I always thought I would work for a newspaper, but I graduated when the web boom hit and that pixel tsunami swallowed everything in its wake.

Which illustrator (or fine artist) do you most admire? I don’t really have a favorite, I admire people in all kinds of fields, slogging away and doing their thing, guns blazing.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator? Professional athlete (I wish!) OR a sportscaster for the Yankees (yes!).

From where do your best ideas originate? Visual treasure hunts hoofing it around city streets or taking a piping hot bath—but being physical knocks loose my most creative neurons for sure.

How do you overcome a creative block? Exercise. Or clean the entire house as fast as I can. Or get outside and knock heads with the real world and suck in some air. I usually suffer from way-too-many-ideas syndrome, which is equally sticky and clogs your brain in a different, but equally annoying, way.

In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new assignment. Pressuretocreatesomethingbrilliant.

Do you have a personal philosophy? Believe in yourself. Never give up.

Do you have creative pursuits other than art? If you are creative, it somehow seeps into just about everything you do.

What music are you listening to right now? I’m listening to The Wind and The Traffic and The Sound of Life by New York City in Cold as Shit Weather on Sidewalkify.

What’s your favorite quote? “You can’t coach guts and commitment.” —Heyneke Meyer (South Africa rugby coach)

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Never give up. Keep pushing. There are no rules.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? Hard hats, safety goggles and bullet-proof egos required.