From the November 2018 issue

Ann Arbor Artist David Zinn’s 3D Chalk Art Creations

When he was too anxious to make 'serious art,' David Zinn took to the sidewalk to create eye-popping works of chalk art, which are now popular in Ann Arbor and beyond.

The permanency of paint on canvas and the self-doubt of trying to make “serious” art led David Zinn to an artistic niche all his own: sidewalk chalk.

The 49-year-old Ann Arborite is responsible for the eye-popping 3D chalk creations that have become famous around A2 and beyond.

“I started drawing on sidewalks as a shameless excuse to be outside on a perfect Michigan summer day. I told myself that at least I was creating some kind of art, if not the art I supposed to be making for a client indoors on a computer,” he says. “What I didn’t expect is that drawing on sidewalks is the perfect solution to the anxieties that had previously kept me from comfortably making ‘serious’ art.”

Chalk is cheap, childish and anonymous – and you can’t take it with you – so long gone are the hesitations he once had about who would buy it. Sure, his masterpieces tend to wash away in the rain, but he has a handful of permanent installations and the rest can be photographed and later put into books or made into prints.

“No one needs to be taught how chalk works, and the only way to waste a tool so simple and inexpensive is to not draw anything.”

Take it home

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Zinn sells books, calendars, tote bags and archival prints on his website at zinnart.com/store. The books run $29.95 each and are also sold at Ann Arbor bookstores including Literati and 16 Hands. Prints are available at local shops or on Amazon (but he can sign or personalize the piece if you buy it on his site). Find more info at zinnart.com.

Find his work

Zinn has three permanent installations in Ann Arbor: one on a utility box at Main and William Streets; a micro-mural on the rear wall of the Ann Arbor Art Center; and another on a utility box at the corner of 1st and Liberty Streets.

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