By Jeanne Fury
Our latest cover artist is Linda Zacks, a Williamsburg resident for many years. An illustrious career to her credit, she rode the web boom, first at a Soho start-up and then as the Design Director for VH1’s website. Since going solo in 2004, she’s been hunkered down in her laboratory in Brooklyn, called “Extra Oomph,” concocting pieces that throb with creative energy.
Zacks was chosen as a “fresh” artist in the 2007 Communication Arts Advertising Annual. Her work has been featured internationally in art and design magazines such as HOW, Step Inside Design, Hong Kong’s IdN, and CMYK. Her recent exhibited works include a mural project in the Paris subway; a “crazy A” for an Adobe campaign; and colorful characters for Nickelodeon’s teen network The N.
Since venturing out on her own in 2004, she’s been involved in a variety of projects including websites, ad campaigns, editorial illustrations, t-shirt designs, character designs, and CD packaging, all the while keeping a steady stream of personal projects churning including paintings and one-of-a-kind books.
Her signature is a mix of grit and grace, loaded with “Noo Yawk” attitude.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS PART OF BROOKLYN?
I wanted new scenery. If you saw my old apartment on 67th Street in Manhattan, you’d know why I moved. It was a six-floor walk up, low ceilings, and as big as a hamster cage. Here I get to enjoy life in a converted industrial space with high ceilings and a giant roof deck where I have a full view of the skyline. Also, after the Upper East Side, Brooklyn seemed a place filled with more creative souls…a place where lots of artistic types were migrating from the city.
WHAT DO YOU SEEK OUT IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
Williamsburg is such a meld of nationality, religion, and pride. It’s a hipster-Italian-Polish-Hasidic-Puerto Rican milkshake. Walking with my dog, Zebedee, a Boston terrier (who calls himself a Brooklyn terrier), we stop outside the old-folks home and chat with the old men who are filled with crazy stories… people who have lived here their entire life and have seen the profound changes over the last decades. It sometimes feels like I’m on multiple planets at once—an unmatched experience in most places…and the fact that homies and Hasids run on the treadmill at the local gym, side-by-side, Timberlands and yarmulkes. It’s definitely unique.
HOW HAS LIVING HERE INFLUENCED YOUR ART?
Brooklyn has given me a profound new perspective on Manhattan; an oasis among the madness. On my building’s rooftop (which I call my living room), the city becomes more abstract. Instead of being IN IT looking up, I look AT IT snaking around in front of me, a stack of living shapes/moody boxes of light and dark. It’s so big and so small all at once, both intimidating and small-town-like. I’ve made several cityscape-inspired images and also snapped many photos of the manic-depressive moods of the skyline: daytime/sunsets/gray rain/ snow days/summer stew. My window has also been a biggie for inspiration—teenage riots outside McDonalds, maniacal screaming at 4am, jack-hammering at dawn, raging fires and screaming fire trucks. The psycho circus never ceases to amaze me.
WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN TO YOUR WORK?
One of my biggest rewards is being contacted by people who have been touched by my work. For example, there is a teacher who works with special-needs high school kids. She says that my work is inspiring and encourages them to see things differently. I’ve sent posters and self-published books to her to use in the classroom. I even got a letter in the mail from one of the students. I enjoy the conversations with the hordes of students from around the world who are inspired by my voice and what I do and how I do it.
You can get some EXTRA-OOMPH by emailing at lindA@extra-oomph.com or visiting extra-oomph.com.