Anthony Zinonos is a California-based collage artist whose bravely minimalist approach to composition achieves miraculously fresh and engaging images, using little more than one image clipping and a sheet of colored paper. He was born in South Africa and has lived in Cyprus, Greece, and the UK. In our interview, we talk about escapism, thriftiness, and the way sunlight is unique in every place in the world.
You’ve been championed and praised for your “less is more” ethos—is it difficult or liberating to strip things down and work with so few elements?
At first, it absolutely was a challenge to work with so few elements, but over time I began to find it very liberating, as I realized that this minimalism helped me to focus on the bare essentials. However, now that I’ve been creating minimalist artwork for over 10 years, I’m actually finding myself wanting to create art with more elements. It feels almost like I am having to relearn from scratch—the challenge for me is to create art that contains more but doesn’t feel chaotic and overcrowded.
What are your favorite resource materials, and what draws you to the late mid-century of American culture and magazines?
My favorites are travel and leisure magazines and books. The late mid-century in America was a real boom time for amazing design and style and I have always loved the aesthetic of that era. There was also a shift in how people lived and consumed. It was a time when many people had money to travel and buy into luxury, which meant more advertising, more photography, more imagery in general. I really enjoy the concept of the "American Dream," of abundance and optimism.
How have the various places you’ve lived informed your creative path, and which location has had the biggest impact?
Southern California, where I live now, has greatly impacted my work both visually and culturally. My surroundings here have a huge influence on me—in particular the color, light, landscapes, and architecture. Of course, I’ve been inspired along the way by things from every country that I’ve lived in and traveled to. Every place has its own unique visual language.
In your episode of The Weird Show podcast, you mention being conscious of waste. How does thriftiness impact the construction of your final pieces?
I’m very aware of waste both in my art-making and my day-to-day life. I enjoy using cheap and accessible materials to create art. It simplifies my practice and frees up some of the pressure of making. I don’t buy things new–I prefer to use found ephemera and recycled paper. I try to use as much of the material as possible, so I will often end up using off-cuts from one piece in other pieces later on.
You make a conscious effort to bring positivity and humor to your work, what can you share about that intention?
As someone who has a tendency to be quite cynical and pessimistic, the world can seem full of negativity at times. However, there’s enough doom and gloom in the media and that isn't what I want to focus on in my artwork. Making art is still a bit of an escape for me and I’m aware that viewing art is also an escape for others, so I want to create art that has a sense of humor, that doesn't take itself too seriously. That mentality allows me to play and explore new ways of creating and helps me share and connect with others.
Goals for 2023? Anything exciting on the (torn paper) horizon?
I’ve been experimenting and creating pieces out of wood which has been refreshing and exciting. New materials have led to new problems to be solved and some inspiring ideas. My main goal is essentially to just keep making artwork!