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Chopping Block: Zeet

Half way around the world we were able to catch up with Australian based artist, Paul "Zeet" Zeaiter, whose art you will in no doubt fall in love with. We got to talk about about his beginnings as an artist, his ritual when it comes to creating his pieces, and why he might just end up on the face of the next Bombay Sapphire bottle you party with.

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Rough sketch of "Little China Girl"

POW: Zeet, can you give us some insight into your career as an artist? When did you begin to illustrate and what motivated you to do so?

Zeet: I began to illustrate on and off at about 5 years old, i loved Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry and Disney cartoons. I used to make up characters and draw them in my sketch book, which i still have. Then i discovered Mario Brothers and Street Fighter games, and used to copy the characters from those games. I started to read comics at around 10, and loved to draw Spiderman, Storm and Venom. Then i got into hip-hop around 13, and used to draw all the logos of my favourite old school hip-hop groups when i was listening to the records. From that point on i took a break from drawing, and did a short course in design when i was about 20 years old - i planned to go to art school but that never happened. Since then I’ve been in the commercial world of graphic design / art direction, and had a burning desire to explore more creative avenues like illustration and music. The last few months i’ve decided to stop working commercially for a while, and focus on building a body of illustration work. So it’s been a long break between 13 and now!

I wasn’t being creatively fulfilled in the design world anymore, i had a great career working in London, LA, and Sydney and involved in many awesome projects and clients. But things got a bit stale and i always had a bank of visual ideas in the back of my head which i never made time to work on. I decided to take the leap, and close business down for a year or so to explore my ideas.

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 11.24.26 AMLittle China Girl by Zeet

POW: How would you describe your art?

Zeet: I’m influenced by many different things, music being the biggest influence like many other artists. The pop-surrealism world is also a massive influence on me. I suppose my art at times can be symbolic and surreal, with a pop and street twist. I’ve only just started to explore, so i’m not sure where it will lead me, but i would say for the future pieces i’m planning will be symbolic, spiritual, surreal and pop/music/street influenced. There may be a few political pieces in there one day too. I want to remain versatile, i don’t want to attach myself to a particular style or theme. Each piece will take on it’s own style and evolve to serve the idea or message of that particular piece.

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Goldfish 1 by Zeet

POW: While visiting your Facebook page I noticed your art piece “Transcendence” is in the running to be featured in an art series by Bombay Sapphire. I voted for your piece by the way! How did your involvement with this project come about?

Zeet: Thanks for the vote! I follow an artist on Instagram, Hueman - massive fan of her work. She posted something on her page about it, and i took the opportunity to submit Transcendence. I’ve also always wanted to attend Art Basel in Miami, this will be my first year attending. It would be cool if my piece happened to make the final cut! The colors also seem to fit the Bombay Sapphire brand coincidentally…

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Transcendence by Zeet

POW: Speaking of “Transcendence”, can you tell us a little bit more about it? What themes were you exploring when you created this piece?

Zeet: This idea came to me in my sleep one night. It’s part of what i’m going through right now personally and creatively, and many people close to me. I was exploring spirituality in this piece and the appearance of sacred geometry throughout nature. I always loved the idea of symbolism and hidden meanings in art, and allowing viewers to interpret and discover for themselves. I am also innately curious about the design of our world and universe, and why things are a certain way, and the miracle of whoever created it and it’s purpose and the role we have to play in it all.

The peacock is a symbol of integrity and the beauty we can achieve when we show our true colors and authentic selves. The 3 heads represent the higher self, the subconscious and the ego. The light emanating from the heads represents the crown chakras, used to communicate with our spiritual nature. The peacock's eyes and eyes on the feathers are closed in a reflective, meditative state and mindfulness. The open eye represents the awakening, the 3rd eye and intuition. The third eye refers to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. It is related to the pineal gland in our brains and often referred to as the principal seat of the soul; represented by the pine cones in the foreground. Sacred geometry in the form of the fibonacci sequence and spirals appear throughout this piece, the spiral arrangement of pine cones, uncurling ferns, the spiral cactus, the shell of the snail, the cell structure in wings of the dragonfly and most obvious the spiral arrangement of the eyes on the peacock feathers. The skulls represent the death or shedding the layers of our ego as we continue to liberate ourselves through our spiritual journey. Shedding the ego refers to no longer being controlled by it, no longer being pushed or pulled by our attachments or our aversions and acceptance of constant change, yet unmoved by those changes.

POW: I usually find that every artist has his or her own ritual when it comes to his or her workspace and surroundings before starting on a piece. Do you have any rituals when it comes to painting and working?

Zeet: My ritual is that music has to always be playing. I work best when i listen to roots reggae or trip-hop / electronica. I like to be organised, so i usually have a clean workspace and desk before i begin a new piece. I also spend a few hours before starting on an idea to sketch a few studies on the subject from different angles to get an understanding and idea of that particular element, and to learn more about it and how it behaves. I spend another couple hours or so surfing the internet and collecting reference images to assist me in realising my ideas and making creative decisions, and getting ideas for colour schemes. I’m still very much a student as i have had no formal art training. I like to have my trusty light pad close so i can make a million revisions to my sketches!

And a triple shot coffee in the morning to get me kick-started, as i am still getting used to being an early riser!

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 11.29.38 AMGoldfish 2 by Zeet

POW: Can you give us some more details about any upcoming work or projects you may have in store?

Zeet: I plan to create a follow up to the Transcendence piece, but these take a lot of time. I have a few other projects in front of it, then i’ll get to it. I am planning on creating a few pieces to raise money for critically endangered animals that are close to my heart. Particularly the big cats - tigers especially - and rhino. After visiting South Africa this year, I didn’t see any rhino, and discovered they are in terrible shape right now. The rangers were saying at the current rate of poaching, they only have a few years left. One of the biggest syndicates that were caught trading rhino horns were the veterinarians that were trusted to protect them - it’s a scary thought. Some other pieces on the list are homages to favourite musicians and films… i’ll eventually get to that!

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For more information on Zeet, please visit https://www.behance.net/zeet-art and https://www.facebook.com/zeetart