Local artist finding success through social media

Charlie Denison

David Zackus of Lewistown sits by several original pieces of his art in his home Saturday.

Photo by Charlie Denison

David Zackus’ piece “Rocket Rendezvous” is one of his wife’s favorites.

Photo courtesy of David Zackus

Last May, Zackus painted his own interpretation of Lewistown’s Sunset Motel.

Photo courtesy of David Zackus


Spacemen, offices in the sky, a mad scientist, futuristic buildings, alternate realities, trippy profiles of vintage buildings – a David Zackus painting is an experience in and of itself. He takes you there.

Zackus, a Lewistown native, goes to another place when he paints, and he wants to take the viewer on the voyage with him.

If he can take the viewer there, he accomplishes his mission, a particularly daunting task considering how much he pushes the limits, taking giant leaps outside of the box.

“I like creating a space feel,” Zackus said. “In the nighttime, our sky is so big with all the stars it can feel like we are in space, so I play with it.”

But that’s only one element of Zackus’ creativity, as inspiration can hit him at any time and take him to undeterminable places.

“Some of it even comes from my dreams,” Zackus said. “If I dream an image, one of the first things I want to do is paint it. Sometimes it just comes out and I have no idea what inspired it.”

Much of Zackus’ work also has an intentionally playful feel, hoping to bring the viewer joy. Zackus said he wants to lift spirits with his art, and he also wants it to somehow feel familiar.

“I want my art to look almost like a memory,” he said.


Making art for a living

With the exception of snow shoveling and lawn mowing jobs, Zackus pursues art full-time, and he couldn’t be happier to do so, feeling energized and inspired to continually create.

Having time to work on the art is huge, as is having support from his wife, Rachelle. She encourages the art and even collaborates by throwing some ideas his way.

Like David, she is a firm believer in the importance of listening to creative energy.

“There’s got to be something creative in every day,” Rachelle said.

Zackus has always wanted to create each day. As long as he can remember, he’s been making art, whether at home, at school or at work.

“Down at the mill I had a pocket full of sharpies that I could whip out and do some artwork on pallet slips,” he said. “I probably did 300-400 of those.”

Although his boss might not have been crazy about the sketches, his co-workers enjoyed it, Zackus said, adding that it might even have improved morale.

Nevertheless, working at the mill was not particularly a passion for Zackus, and having the opportunity now to just focus on art is a blessing.


Facebook fame

Zackus said he’s particularly thankful for social media, as he sells most of his paintings via Facebook.

Sometimes, Rachelle said, his paintings are sold just minutes after being posted.

His art is becoming a hot commodity in Lewistown and elsewhere, Rachelle said. In fact, his art has reached a level of popularity that has inspired some people to treat him like a celebrity.

“People have come through town just to meet him because they are fans of his art,” Rachelle said. “It’s crazy.”

The Internet, Rachelle said, is what allows Zackus to stay in a small town and work on art.

“There was one time we sold one within 36 hours of it posting,” Rachelle said.

“They’ve been moving,” Zackus added. “And fast.”


Following his dream

It hasn’t always been easy, Zackus said, but Zackus said it’s been worth it to keep pursuing art.

For a while there, it was tricky. Zackus had no time to create, and it was making life hard for him.

“He’s happiest when he can do art,” Rachelle said. “And now, it’s really exciting to see him painting and selling his art.”

“I enjoy doing art so much, and, when I’m flowing, it feels especially good,” Zackus said.

Zackus encourages other artists out there to listen to their creative side as well.

“Do what you love,” Zackus said. “That’s what it’s about for me. It’s not about getting rich; it’s about the experience of it all.”


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