We had the good fortune of connecting with Zach gastley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Zach, why did you pursue a creative career?
The lines between following your passion and making a living are super hard to establish. For most creative individuals, the concept of monetizing the thing you value most is scary and, at times, outright ludicrous. For me – I hesitated for quite a while before taking the plunge. What really drove me to do it was the thought of having my art be a sustainable income source which in turn would drive me to create more art. Win-win.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is… a little odd. What started as a way for me to meditate and process my own emotions has turned it one of my favorite ways to connect with people. I like my art to be fluid, abstract, and subjective. I make my art very personal to me – often, it reflects some particular emotion or situation happening in my life. However, I try not to make that too apparent in an attempt to allow a viewer to make their own connections. A victory for me is when someone connects with my art and describes something I have not yet seen or thought about.

Easy is a subjective term, and I would not say anything comes easy when developing your voice as a creative. Most artists work years refining their style and perfecting their approach, and I’m no different. The hardest part about this is 100% the critical nature of the art world. I’m sure that’s more of a “me” thing, but my art is very different and, in some cases, breaks or does not follow many standard art theories and approaches. You have to separate yourself from the negativity and remember that art is not a set of rules in a book – it comes from people. It is the translation of the thought and soul into the physical realm, and if you are expressing yourself, you are making art.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Atlanta is so diverse in terms of places to hang out. For an out-of-towner, the sky’s the limit. Depending on who they are, I’d probably start with all the touristy stuff – hitting downtown, visiting Centennial and riding the Ferris Wheel, then grabbing a bite at the CNN center, and maybe getting a drink at the Glenn rooftop.

From Downtown, we’d need to hit Midtown. We’d have to go to the High and check out the modern art floor, visit Piedmont Park, and grab lunch at The Nook. From there, there’s so much to do in Midtown that we could spend a few days there.

After we get some of that out of the way, I’d take them to my other favorite spots in the city. Firstly, we’d have to visit South River Art Studios in East Atlanta, where I share space with fantastic artists. Then, we’d have to head over to East Atlanta Village for a drink and some incredible pizza from Argosy. Plus, they have to see the giant octopus in the backroom. That thing is so sick. We can head over to Cabbagetown to check out some of the coolest murals on the art walk leading to the beltline. They’re going to love the Krog Street tunnel, too :D.

Lastly, I’d finish the trip off with a trip to West Atlanta. Specifically, I’d take them to some of the best local vegan spots (shouts out to Tassili’s Raw Reality!!), then to the MET, where we can check out Mutiny Artwrx and some other excellent art spots over there.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh, wow. Way too many to name. First and foremost, I owe everything to my life partner, Lindsey. She’s always, and I mean ALWAYS, helping me in some way. Past that, all my collaborators and fellow local artist like JP McChesney, the folks over at South River Arts Studios, and all the great people running shop1culture out of California.

Website: www.artisntdead.com

Instagram: zjg_art

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.