Profile: David Zalben


Who are you?
I’m a reflection of who is in front of me. Basically, I am a guy that lives to inspire and be inspired.

What do you do in real life?
In the morning I’m a lawyer defending the disenfranchised. After lunch, I’m a therapist, and then I’ll design an eco-friendly building before Happy Hour. In the early evening, I spend my time forcing people to recycle and convince them to stop using leaf blowers. Later in the evening I am a talk show host.

What do you like the most about what you do?
The chance to invent and use art as a conduit to connect with people.

What is your process?
I like quiet time to dwell, usually in the morning. Generally, I won’t answer the phone and emails. I’ll stare out the window until 11am or so, waxing philosophically on a few subjects that come to mind while in that moment. Sometimes I’ll write some lines of poetry that could be used for a future poem. I also ruminate on ways of improving myself. Then I go into studio and get caught up with the stories of the day, and start working on a project or do more dwelling.

What inspires you?
I see creative ideas easily… like a plastic wrap lying on concrete if the light is right. As for inspiration, that is more complex. People are inspiring, but it is important for me to hang with folks that have something over me – like being funnier or sharper – or with those whom I feel are brilliant artists… it’s inspiring because they challenge me.   As for what inspires the art: humor, innocence, sensuality and love.

Why Sculpture?
It offers me balance with my painting, and being rather impatient, the wire allows me to be creative as simply and minimally as possible.

How did you come up with your Art Center piece?
A few factors instigated the installation. Since inventing is such an important aspect of my process, the art constantly evolves and spawns new ideas for future artwork. The technique that I am employing – the single long line of wordage – has its beginnings from my wire graffiti concept. I once gave a wire poem to a woman who installed it all along the top of her apartment walls near the ceiling. I thought that was clever and opened my mind to other possible installation ideas.

More specifically, this “A Love You Can’t Live Without” installation was born when I wanted to communicate in wire how I felt for a lover. As I started to visualize, the idea grew to be something far more challenging and since it was going to be so large, creating the poem in ArtCenter’s window was far more practical. This is just me doing my work.

What is your all time favorite piece?
I don’t really have one. They’re all an extension of my personality and express a particular emotion or feeling.

What piece have you dreamed of creating?
Because of the current installation, I thought of using the long line concept to create a giant circular wire verse that runs up to the ceiling like a tornado.

Who are your current Icons or Muses?
I always say there can be a muse right under your nose if you simply open up and engage yourself.

What age did you know art was your thing?
At around 8 years of age, I started to sketch portraits of movie stars. Then, around 10, I became preoccupied with photography and took pictures constantly.

Describe your personal style like a good friend of yours would?
He is very direct and intense, but kind and giving. Loves to laugh and enjoys nonsensically chatter. He is relentless and passionate when it comes to pushing his ideas or trying to convince you he is right.

What books, mags do you have on your bedside table?
Magazines bore me – too much advertising. I’ve been reading much more these days and prefer historical novels, but recently read a great book titled “Gargoyle”… And not far from the bed, the “Big Book of Butts” is quite a read.

Where you’ll find me on a Friday night at 10pm?
I am pretty serious about my working hours, which run until 11pm. But at times, someone convinces me to go out for a beverage at the Yardbird. I used to go to The Abbey (wrote a poem on the abbey), until they expanded it and ruined the cozy ambiance.

If you had to move to a deserted island what two items would you take?
A picture of a woman that I love and some apparatus where by I can make coconut cocktails; or a picture of a woman that I love and a harmonica

Something new that you have just discovered about yourself?
It seems not a day goes by I don’t see something new in myself. For example, I find my body language changes depending on who I am speaking with.

What are your guilty pleasures?
I don’t feel guilt about anything. My pleasures are employed with good intentions.

One luxury you cannot live without?
Generally I live pretty minimally, so I don’t have luxurious items. Although it isn’t in my mind a luxury, I’d prefer not living without rum – or without flip flops for that matter.

Three words that describe you?
Funny, innocent and generous.


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