A Chat with Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Doug Zider

September 23, 2016 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Doug Zider
September 23, 2016 Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Doug Zider

Artist Doug Zider is no stranger to Dan’s Papers. His distinctive work has appeared on more than a dozen covers, and won him 2008 Cover Artist of the Year. Zider’s breathtaking landscapes and idyllic country scenes, including “Tending the Garden Path,” featured this week, is a testament to both the awesome power of nature and proof positive that the East End is an endless source of beauty and inspiration.

The Long Island native currently lives only a stone’s throw from Great South Bay. He was kind enough to answer some questions about his art and inspiration, and to proffer some advice and wisdom to aspiring artists as well.

Dan's Papers cover artist Doug Zider
Doug Zider

While there isn’t any water in this painting, water is certainly a motif in your paintings. Is there something specific that attracts you to water?
Yes. Water, the sea, holds hard with me. With everything that goes on around us, being on the water takes it down a notch or two. How we travel on it, use it, admire it, and, hopefully, protect it, will forever be a part of our lives.

What do you try to communicate through your art?
I always try to show the natural presence and purpose of the elements. With the historical aspects of some of my work I try to show drama and energy and life as it was then.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
Watching my father, in his day as an artist for Grumman Aircraft in Bethpage, making something out of nothing, sometimes just to see if he could do it. He combined the commercial art for industry with the fine arts so well. He was a real Renaissance man.

Do you have a daily routine or a creative pattern you follow?
I have parameters and guidelines which I attempt to adhere to, but sometimes life gets in the way. The ideas for work, well, [I’m] on overload there, but the key is to enjoy the process.

Is there one piece of advice you’ve received from another artist that you’ve always remembered?
Yes. Art is a good thing, soul-driven. Don’t screw it up by making it “a job.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists—painters or otherwise?
Yes. The majority of art is never wrong; mistakes are not really mistakes but are the process of learning. The best advice I can give an aspiring artist is to observe—put down the cell phones and watch life, both human and the natural elements, do its thing. Explore how things are done, how it was once done and listen to someone who has lived it. Read. Work out the problem, don’t get discouraged, be critiqued and take it, don’t stop, the loss of time is a killer.

You worked as a graphic designer for Saturday Night Live and many sporting events, venues, and sport leagues. Would the sports fans among us recognize any of your work?
Real, REAL sports fans? All they really want to do is read the score and time left in the game, nice and big from across the room in the bar! On SNL we do graphics for the laugh, and it doesn’t get any better than that. But television is what it is—just zeros and ones, all digital. Fine art, however, is tangible evidence of the mind and hand. That’s what people strive for: originality, the real deal.

Where can people view your work?
I have a solo exhibition coming up at Kaiser Art Gallery at Molloy College in Rockville Center starting October 21 that runs until December 16. My website, which shows a lot of my work, is dougzider.com. Or you can follow me on Instagram @ziderfineart.

September 23, 2016 Dan's Papers cover art by Doug Zider

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