I first met Zio Ziegler on a bike ride with the Bear Development Team in 2011. The only thing I can remember from that ride that he rode flat out all day. I had no idea how he was able to sustain it. As long as I’ve known him, I’ve never stopped asking that question. His brain, his body, his paintbrush, his bicycle, his focus are always moving. Fast. And he goes to some really amazing places.
At the time I met Zio, I was travelling full-time and living in my Airstream trailer. One day, when I was parked in Marin County, he dropped by and asked if I was game to let him paint a mural inside the trailer. I thought we might plan something out, pick the colors, pick the best spot on the wall and maybe talk about what it might look like. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Zio isn't really someone that you might manage or even direct. He is truly a free spirit and an artist in the purest sense of the word. It's a beautiful thing to witness him using his gifts. He pulled his rattle cans out, painted at a break neck speed and was done less than a half hour after he started.
The finished product was one of the most beautiful, colorful, amazing murals I’ve ever seen. He spray-painted it right onto the aluminum fuselage inside my Airstream. I loved that mural every day that I lived in the trailer from then on. Sometimes I’d just sit and stare at it while I ate dinner or had a stretch.
There were many reasons why I had a hard time selling that trailer after living in it for 3 years. Zio’s mural was definitely one of them. It was painted right onto the aluminum and I couldn’t take it with me.
The woman who bought the trailer from me was an older woman who had just gotten divorced and was excited to take the trailer to Burning Man. She loved Zio’s mural too. It was nice to know the trailer and Zio's mural found a good home.
Anyway, I digress.
Zio Ziegler is a big deal in the art world. His work is absolutely remarkable. Check out his Instagram feed: @zioziegler to see some of that work. His collaborations with consumer brands like Budweiser, Vans Shoes and Pottery Barn have made his work more accessible to younger generations. His murals are all over the world: San Francisco, Tokyo, LA, London, Italy, etc. And they are, literally, huge. Google his name and some of his murals will pop up. The scale is truly remarkable. Someone once told me that he paints most of them in a single day, without a plan and without any of the tracing techniques that many muralists use to ensure consistent proportions on a large wall. He basically just shows up and free-hand paints these massive murals. This news didn’t surprise me.
Zio is one of the most intelligent, insightful, curious, well-read, generous, authentic individuals I’ve ever met.
He is a true artist.
I love this conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Big thanks to Zio for sitting down for this interview.