Zach Madere is a California-based artist featured in our current show, ‘Pixel Palette: The Art of Digital Painting.’ Here he talks about his studio habits, tricks, and inspirations both at the office and at home.

1. Did you aspire to be an artist, or did you fall in love with making art?

I aspired to be an artist, I remember seeing some reference sheets for the animators of a show I really liked, and thinking, “Wait a second, someone had to draw this,” and I decided I wanted to be that person too.

Frigate Concept for Unannounced Project
Frigate Concept for Unannounced Project

2. Do you have a “day job” outside of your art?

I consider myself pretty lucky in that my art is my day job (working at Turtle Rock Studios in Orange County, CA). It’s also my job outside of my day job.

3. What does your perfect day look like?

I really enjoy going to work, but I don’t get a lot of free time. Having a day when I work but but get out with time to play some games with friends or hang out with a pretty lady sounds like a nice day.

Space Pilot
Space Pilot

4. What would you tell your younger self when you were first embarking on your artistic career?

If I caught myself before I graduated college, it would have been to make myself understand that if I was planning on getting a job after college and not working a crap job, I would need to be good enough before graduating.

5. Who are some of your current influences or inspirations?

I think everyone goes through a stage where they pull up an artists’ work every time they start a new painting, and my current fixation is John Wallin Liberto. My favorite standbys have always been Craig Mullins and Jaime Jones though.

6. What do you look for in the art of others? What would you hope people look for in your work?

In digital work I like work that looks “painterly,” which isn’t always mimicking paint but rather a brevity and deftness in mark making. Something else I’m drawn to which I think goes hand in hand with painterlyness is a simple composition, readable from across the room, and a strong and convincing sense of light. These are the things I strive for in my work, but at the end of the day I just hope that people will be engaged– that’s the end goal of all these tricks and illusions.

Cruiser Concept for Unannounced Project
Cruiser Concept for Unannounced Project

7. How long do you usually take to complete a piece? Do you work on multiple pieces simultaneously?

If it’s a concept for the studio, I might do something in a day and usually never longer than a week. My personal work will usually take a few weeks of night working. I don’t usually work on multiple pieces because I would be afraid it would be a way for me to ignore a problem if a painting got difficult. I also usually don’t have much time, but it’s something I should do.

8. What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

Honestly, even though I rely on my Wacom products so heavily, I think my phone is the most indispensable tool I have. If I’m ever struggling with a figure I bust out my self timer camera and pose out my reference myself. It has saved me many times.

9. Do you listen to music/audio while you work or do you prefer to work in silence? Any bands or albums you’ve been enthralled by lately?

I listen to all kinds of stuff but I also need silence on occasion– whatever keeps me working. I’ve been realy into Beach House lately but my old standbys are episodes of Opie and Anthony on Youtube, the music from Minecraft (c418) and the Redletter media review of Star Wars Episode I– it’s kind of a weird comfort blanket I like to have in the background.


10. What are you currently working on and what projects do you have coming up?

I’m not really working on anything at the moment; I wanted to spend some time studying and improving but after that I’m thinking about doing some paintings with giant robots.

Thank you to Zach for participating in our interview! You can view more of his work at, and in Pixel Palette at the gallery through April 2.

For more information on Helikon Gallery and Studios, visit

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