How Zach Ostrowski Works


Location: On it and in it

Current Gig:  Artist and musician, Co-founder of sUPERIORbelly and Co-Founder of Wild American Dogs, Assistant Professor and Graphic Art Area Head (Art, Media & Design, DePaul University) 

One word that best describes how you work: H.A.R.D

Current mobile device:  Just got a smart phone it says its a LG

Current computer: Old Mac desktop with outdated adobe suite and a borrowed mac laptop from my wife’s work cuz I can’t afford the nu stuff

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? I can live w/o all apps and software but I like PhotoShop and my favorite hardware is my handheld digital recorder, also I use a pencil or good pen or marker on paper a lot.

What’s your workspace setup like? A door on two sawhorses in the back room with a cabinet full of supplies where I work on 2d, video and audio.  I do most of my thinking when I drive and make most of my work in small towns on the outskirts of the Midwest.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack? Try to stay quite and avoid the masses.

Do you automate something that used to be a time sink? I don’t think so.

Do you relegate email to an hour a day? That’s a good idea.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Back of a bill envelope and a pen.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? Back of a bill envelope and a pen is really the most necessary but the gadget I use most is probably my handheld digital audio recorder.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret? !KICKIN A$$! I can share with anyone who wants to know for a 10-pound sack of that paper cash.

What do you listen to while you work? For the past few months I’ve been listening to myself rehearse because I’m trying to memorize 40 minutes of new material. Other than that at the moment a lot of Hank III, Moistboyz, Michael Franks, Harry Smith’s Folk Anthology, the George Mitchell collection of field recordings, John Northwright, Hall and Oates, Charlie Feathers, Hasil Adkins, BATHTUB SONGS soundtrack, Tevin Campbell, New Edition, Keith Sweat, old Kid Rock, Andrew Dice Clay, Greg Giraldo, Mr. Show dvd commentary, Spice 1, Esham, Natas, Vincent Gallo, nervous norvus, Napoleon XIV, Dion McGregor…

What do you do to stay inspired? Who are some of your favorite artists? It’s harder for me to put a hold on the inspirations so I can focus on a few things at a time. I’m mostly attracted to things outside the field of art and design. At the moment I’ve been looking into and thinking a lot about: job training videos, y2k (books, dvds, merchandise etc), bodybuilders, inventing conceptual recipes for non edible foods with G$, inventing interior design schemes for conceptual residential spaces with DOAK X, attorneys and law offices with commercials, the use of humor in local furniture and car sales commercials, OPRAH, raw food enthusiasts, song poems, religious gangsta rappers, creative business ventures, mascots, new types of teeth, vhs, horror, outside, tap dance and my biggest obsession at the movement is strong children

What sort of work are you up to now? I have a solo exhibition at the Cranbrook Museum of Art opening in February called BEVERLY FRESH PRESENTS MR MDWST A REAL GOOD TIME. It’ll be the biggest show I’ve ever done. I’m building 3 large-scale stage sets / sculptures that make up a big environment which will host four new performances. Then I’ll be trying to find money to bring that to Chicago.

Also the experimental feature film I made with DePaul SSRC crew called BATHTUB SONGS just premiered in LA and we will be submitting that to festivals soon. Also workin on some new movie ideas.

What are you currently reading? Karate is a Thing of the Spirit by Harry Crews

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? I’m a mellow extrovert inverted outsider all rusty tryin to stay golden

What’s your sleep routine like? All over the place

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see (fill in the blank)Payton (the mascot from BATHTUB SONGS).

Why? Because I never heard him talk.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “You don’t want a job that needs you there all the time.” – Calvin Lee Reeder

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?I really wish I could sing and make music like Michael Franks, and I try my hardest but it just comes out the wrong way.

The How I Work series featured on the re/search blog is shamelessly stolen from Life Hacker’s How I Work series.   The SSRC’s version asks DePaul’s heroes, experts, and individuals of note to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? 


Author: Jessica Bishop-Royse

Jessica Bishop-Royse is the SSRC’s Senior Research Methodologist. Her areas of interest include: health disparities, demography, crime, methods, and statistics. She often finds herself navigating the fields of sociology, demography, epidemiology, medicine, public health, and policy. She was broadly trained in data collection, Stata, quantitative research methodology, as well as statistics. She has experience with multi-level analyses, survival analyses, and multivariate regression. Outside of the work context, Jessi is interested in writing, reading, travel, photography, and sport.

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