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James Zucco, a former art director in advertising, and now accomplished artist in Minneapolis shares his story about his experience with meditation, art & creativity.
James Zucco spent many years creating award-winning work as an art director in advertising. Three of his commercials are featured in the permanent collection at MoMA, and his work has earned an Emmy nomination and other industry honors. In 2015 James shifted his focus to his passion for fine art.
He now spends his days in the studio, drawing and painting across a variety of mediums. His art now resides in private collections across North America, Europe, and the Middle East and has been featured in The New York Times and The California Sunday Magazine.
The team at Muse is thrilled to be highlighting his piece “Meditate Levitate” which speaks so closely to the Muse birds that you are rewarded with for sustained focus on our new company SWAG!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your work, and what inspires your art?
James: The Universe is equal parts creation and destruction. Understanding and accepting this brings me peace, and I hope that my art conveys this sense of balance. Concepts are important to me, which is something I learned working for years as an advertising art director. I work primarily with sumi ink on paper.
I love the textures ink and water create, and I appreciate that you can only control them so much. The compositions are often stark because I believe that ideas are most powerful in their simplest forms.
Q: We love that a common theme in your artwork is meditation and self-reflection. How did you first get introduced to meditation?
James: About 15 years ago, when I was working full time at a Minneapolis ad agency, there was a freelance copywriter in from San Francisco helping with a pitch. He was going into an empty office every afternoon and meditating. I was very curious to learn more. Meditation was always attractive to me, especially during a stressful advertising pitch. It turns out that he had just returned from studying Vedic meditation in India.
Long story short, he taught me and many others to meditate in the months and years to follow. I think teaching meditation is a full-time job for him now. The formula was simply: Sit still in a comfortable position with your head unsupported for 20 minutes twice a day, thinking a mantra to yourself.
The specific mantras he gave to each of us privately were ancient Hindu mantras. As a history geek, I love that these “sounds” are the same sounds that humans have used for centuries.
Q: What is your personal meditation practice and how has it evolved over the years?
James: For the initial few years after learning to meditate, I sat twice a day, every day. Now, I must admit, it’s more sporadic, but I never let too many days go by without meditating.
It’s an especially useful tool when I’m feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. It’s also an incredibly helpful tool to help with creativity or just thinking more clearly in general.
Q: Do you have any tips for creatives looking to use meditation as a way to infuse and inspire their creativity?
James: Meditating is almost a superpower for creativity and life in general. Your work will almost surely improve and you will probably enjoy the process more and feel less stress under deadlines.
Q: Do you have any tips for beginners who are just starting out with a meditation practice?
James: Learn from a good teacher who can answer the many specific questions you’ll have. Most importantly, stick with it. Everyone quits because they think that they can’t do it well. Everyone feels like that. Especially at the beginning. It’s just sitting and observing after all. There are no bad meditation sessions. The fact that you are doing it is always good.