In the art world, materials do not come cheap. Often times, many creators in the space are faced with the challenge of using what is around them. In such cases, creativity soars and new crafts are perfected. A trend that has always stood the test of time in the art field is the repurposing of leftover items for new usable creations. A quintessential example of this skill can be seen in the wonder of ZoN Creations. The craftsmen behind this ambitious endeavor, Zach Williams and Jon Vasey, took some time to elaborate more on their work.
To start, they both gave the origin story of ZoN Creations. “Both of us wanted to start our own company, and build something from the ground up. We were really interested in reclaiming or recycling materials because, well, we couldn’t afford to buy much of anything at the time. We wanted to give something with a history a new [beginning]. We had seen old wood from the surrounding area and thought about some ways to repurpose it, or give it a ‘new lease on life.’ So, we took some of the most weathered wood we could find from an old tobacco barn on one of the properties Zach’s family owns, and using the tools we could scrounge up from Jon’s father’s shop we made a canvas to paint on. [From that effort] ZoN Creations was born.”
Both men have built an extensive array of products that really show their passion within the medium. They shared a few of their most memorable items to date. “We’ve done some really unique pieces. Some of our favorites include a painting of a hatching sea turtle on barn rafters that Zach did for a charity event for the Children’s Museum of South Carolina. Also, Jon has repurposed a very old pallet into a wicked wine rack with glass hangers. Jon’s also been doing some cool work with bottle caps, most notably his octopus.”
ZoN Creations is always on the move and their rhythm is fluid. “In all honesty, we start out each piece with an idea in mind that hasn’t been fleshed out. Our process is really organic in how each piece evolves as it progresses. The outline starts out as one thing, and by the time we’re finished, the end product becomes something better than we had in our head. Our work started out very simplistic and is continuing to lead us down new paths. We’re not sure what lies ahead for the type of pieces we’ll be making, but we are always coming up with new ways to use these recycled materials. Every piece is special though, not only because of the art or function, but because of the backstory for every piece of wood we use.”
Since their work is varied, the difficulties that arise can be quite impactful. “For us, each piece is different and comes with its own set of challenges. Sometimes it’s coming up with the concept for a piece that is the hardest part. Other times, it’s really how to execute it. Often the materials themselves cause a bit of frustration due to their fragile nature, and scarcity. Most of the time, we are just inspired by something we’ve seen or want to try and then attempt to figure out how to bring that piece to life. We’re constantly learning and evolving our process adding tweaks here and there to make our pieces live up to the canvas that they’re on.”
Both men have started something with a specific niche in the art space. They elaborated a bit on their opinions of it all. “The art world today has become so personal as though everybody is out to prove something. Actually, maybe it was always that way. Sometimes we feel that art has to be edgy or thought provoking to reach a wide audience or stand out amongst the crowd. In all actuality, we’ve come to realize that when you take something close to you, in our case the wood we use, and give it a new story, the art becomes the face of a broader story. We’re not creating Mona Lisa’s here. We’re just trying to tell a story that has been ingrained in the wood that has built our past. The art world today allows us to use that individual voice to tell that story.”
Zach and Jon also gave a glimpse of their next move with Zon Creations. “We’re anticipating diving more into the craftsman side of woodworking: making cool pieces of furniture as well as artwork. I think as we continue to learn more about the tools we’re using and become well versed you’ll be seeing us add more detail and flair to our wood pieces. The two of us collaborate on new ideas all the time, and it’s hard to say what our next move may be. We’re always looking for a way to expand our work. With the help of a taste for craft beer, what started out as vertical boards with paintings has turned into artwork with bottle caps, experimenting with aging solutions, and who knows what next. We always want the pieces that we make to be unique, special, and to connect with people.”
Influences range wide among the two artists. Zach: “I really love Ansel Adams’ photography and am mostly drawn to the styles and artwork from the Renaissance. In all honesty though, I’m more of a browser. I can’t pinpoint what or who really speaks to me as a whole. I pick things from here and there.” Jon: “Having been a musician for most of my life, I find that a lot of my inspiration comes from listening to music while working. I’ll have my music on shuffle, and for instance, The Beatles’ Octopus’s Garden will come on and I’ll be inclined to make an octopus out of bottle caps. It can really come from anywhere at any given moment.”
Day to day, the men remain active. “Depending on the day, we’re always on the go. We try to keep ourselves busy with a wide range of activities like supporting our local minor league baseball team, keeping the N64 alive playing Mario Kart, or tossing the Frisbee around at the beach. When we have the time, it’s not uncommon to see us both playing lead roles in musicals at the local community theatre as well.” Not a bad life right there.
This summer holds a special exploration in their craft. “The next big project is somewhat in the planning process still. We’re going on a month-long cross-country road trip in July, hopefully gathering plenty of Americana inspiration along the way. We’ve tossed around ideas on some way to use our art to commemorate this journey. We will definitely be looking for wood from every state that we pass through to make some large-scale project for ourselves. What the end product will be has yet to be determined, but for two best friends on the open road with time to kill, I’m sure we’ll come up with something good.”
Not only are these two gentlemen good guys, they remain focussed on the total experience in their work. With their unique flair and attempts to constantly create, there is no doubt the art world will flock to their products. For some special art and furniture, look no further than ZoN Creations! Get out there.