Arts on the Avenue Spotlight Artist – Emmanuel “Zags” Aréizaga

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Emmanuel “Zags” Aréizaga is a young artist and animator based in Kelowna. Currently pursuing a career in Animation, Zags’ work is heavily influenced by the work of artists the likes of M.C. Escher and J.R.R. Tolkien. Mixing realism with fantastical settings and subjects, Zags’ passion for surrealism allows him to breathe life into his imaginative works.

Zags often works with pencils, pens, charcoal, pastels, and chalk, but he also frequently works with acrylic, oil, and digital paintings. His current work mixes traditional art with 3D animation.


ARTSCO spoke with Zags about his art in preparation for Festivals Kelowna’s Arts on the Avenue on July 28, 2016.

How did you start in drawing and why did you choose it?

At first, it really wasn’t up to me. When I was in Grade 1 or 2, my mom said “Hey, you should try something,” and I decided to try art and I’ve loved it ever since.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mexico City and I moved here at the end of Grade 6.

How would you describe your style?

I’m a big fan of surrealism – stuff that’s realistic looking but with a very unrealistic subject.

When you were starting up, did you have any role models you looked up to?

When I was first starting to draw, I learned a lot from comic books and artists like Todd McFarlane. Now that I’ve gotten older and I’ve started developing my own art, some of my role models have been MC Escher, Julian Beever, and Edgar Mueller.

What’s your favourite part about drawing?

When I see people’s faces as the drawing comes to life in front of them, especially for 3D drawings. When they look it from the right angle, their faces just blow up and they get so excited.

What’s the hardest part?

When it’s distorted, it becomes hard to see and it becomes more draw what you see than what you think because your mind thinks it doesn’t look right. So the hardest part is staying true to the angles and the distortions to make sure the final product looks perfect.

What do you think people don’t notice when they look at your work?

How challenging it is to get the right angle. If things don’t align or the piece doesn’t work well with the environment, it might still look 3D but it won’t be perfect with other tangible things around it. So all the stuff I’ve done, I always do a couple trials at home beforehand.

When did you realize this is what you loved?

When I realized it wasn’t just an activity anymore and it became something I wanted to do and something I loved doing.

Do you have any advice for people coming up in your field?

Practice. Practice makes permanent. Keep trying new things and push things. I used to hate drawing people, so I would stick to animals because when you make a mistake on an animal, it’s not that noticeable because most people don’t recognize that specific animal. Then my art teacher, Jolene, worked on me with portraits and now it’s become something I really love to do.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to school at the Centre of Arts and Technology in October and I eventually want to be a 3D Animator working with companies like Pixar and Disney.

What do you think leads to success in the arts?

I guess that depends on what you consider success to be.

What do you consider success to be?

I think success is when you create something you’re happy with and you create something that other people can enjoy – art that can be shared and experienced by other people. That to me would be success.

Do you think your art has taught you things that you’ve carried into other aspects of your life?

Working on the little things and the small details. Take care of the little things and the big things will line up.


Zags will be creating some beautiful chalk art on Bernard Avenue for July 28th’s Arts on the Avenue. Make sure you come check out one of Kelowna’s brightest young artists!

Did you enjoy the photos in this article? You can check out more of Zags’ work here!