DZO Olivier is a self-taught painter and illustrator from France. The simple, three-letter alias of DZO represents a divergence from his career in graphic arts and into the noosphere, which is defined as a postulated sphere or stage of evolutionary development dominated by consciousness, the mind, and interpersonal relationships. His work is both haunting and awe-inspiring and feels as if it could come from either religious or occult texts. A few moments with one of DZO’s unique works will make you wonder where you’ve seen such chilling beauty before, and make you wonder if maybe it was within your own mind.
Today, DZO answers some of our questions about what drives him and how he maintains his creativity.
YMB: First, I have to ask, what is the meaning of the name “DZO?”
Nothing special … these 3 letters have accompanied me a long time. They work like an acronym. DZE is a Tibetan mystic pearl (I wear one on my neck) and DZO is a Tibetan bull, half-tamed, half-wild. O for Olivier, Z for my design studio (ZK sphere) etc … I like this idea that these three letters represents a convergence of meaning. This reminds me of my status in human society. DZO, the tibetan buffalo, makes me think about what I am. A little formatted by society, a little wild and in conflict with the world as it presents itself. I like the idea of being at the crossroads. This is a concept that touches me.
Can you explain the idea of the noosphere and what it means to you?
Such a concept! In fact, I'm not sure it's just a concept. I really believe in it. The noosphere implies the idea that part of our consciousness lies within us. Everyone agrees with that. But another consciousness would be external to the body. It is a non-localized consciousness shared by all living beings. Scientists are beginning to show interest in this idea. The noosphere is an informative mass like the atmosphere. An area in which our mind draws universal and eternal information. Our body might be a kind of antenna able to capture these informative waves. Some people name it “Noosphere” but we can also call it Akashic Field. Many humans have explored this informative structure through shamanic journeys, trance, astral travel, altered states of consciousness, hypnosis, dreams, meditation, etc. It's a bit esoteric but I find this idea extremely attractive. I like mysteries. For me, travel through the noosphere means to use imagination to enter into this informative mass. Imagination is a kind of bridge.
Take us back to your first (or one of your first) creative moments and tell us that story.
I can't say that i had a specific “first” creative moment. I think I was born with this ability. I can't speak about a specific moment. However, I remember the short moments that have probably influenced my artistic style. I remember when my mother, who was professor of drawing, showed me the works of her students. I remember the exercises that the students were doing were hatching, lines, as well as black and white points. She asked my opinion at the age of 6 years!! It’s a strange feeling to note that several years later, my real art is based on those techniques.
My uncle was industrial designer. A few years later, he introduced me to a great French designer called Druillet. I still remember him in the process of drawing a giant board with very detailed elements in black and white (sci-fi universe / metal hurlant ).
Both memories make me think I owe them a part of who I am today. But my first real moments of creativity were in street art. Moments of pure creative instinct mixed with the intensity of illegal situations. Those moments were magical.
What are some things that initially held you back from creating art (or still do)? What did you do (or still do) to combat that?
The only thing that prevents me from being really creative is money. Money has perverted the pure expression. We are ready to do anything for money, especially when we are in need.
I think that a good combination is 50 / 50. Fifty percent for work in order to feed, clothe, and shelter, as well as pay for a few pleasures and move forward. The remaining fifty percent goes to the pure joy of creation, without constraints. Without customers and their destructive comments. Just freedom. This is not incompatible with money. Sometimes, there are people who are willing to pay you while leaving you complete freedom. They are rare but it is the ideal location to start living your art… I'm grateful to have found a few of them.
Take us to your most triumphant creative moment.
This is really recent. The Antidenim brand launched a project called 666. 666 designers worldwide had each one to work on an image that is part of a video of 666 images. I loved the concept but hated contests. Nevertheless, I decided to do it for fun and pleasure. I let my imagination wander and I created a very detailed illustration. The image has become the most popular image of the contest, even though I only created it for pleasure.
This triumph is not about coming in first place, but more about the thing I understood that day: the less you desire to conquer, more you win. The less you demand the more you get. So, the more you find pleasure in your work, the easier it is for people to feel it.
What does art bring to your life?
Sensibility, an open mind, insatiable curiosity, the taste for perpetual renewal, and patience …. art offers me a way of life.
What is your formula for balancing your time?
Equilibrium is an illusion. Life is a disequilibrium game. My time is never in equilibrium. My professional, family and artistic life merge. But if I were to move towards a balance, I would devote one-third to my family, one-third to art and one-third to work.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Nature. Without hesitation. The natural world is infinitely inspiring. I know you asked WHO and not WHAT, but for me Nature is a living being.
Share with us your favorite book, YouTube clip, or whatever that you draw inspiration from, and that maybe we can too.
Too hard!!!!!! But why not. I enjoy music and I will give you several clips from YouTube that really hit me (the music is more important than video):
Fever Ray (Soooo mystic! This song gives me goosebumps)
Foals (great energy)
Warduna (no clip but surely the most inspiring music for me)
Kasabian (love this group)
Steven'n'seagulls (perfect anti-star video clip.. fun!)
Beastie Boys – Immortal
DIE ANTWOORD (crazy!!!)
Marilyn Manson – Personal Jesus
Kitty Daisy & Lewis – Revival
MANIACX (Best French rap group (ft. Puppet Mastaz)
You’ve inspired all of us today, but I know that there is someone out there that you’ve especially reached today. Someone out there is thinking maybe I could do this too. Give that person your best advice and push him or her into action.
- Work hard and chart your own path!
- Be in adequacy with what you are and don’t let you formated by society. In life, it is better to have a pleasure work than to be dominated by money.
- Have fun in everything you do.