Monday, August 10, 2015


David Hartz is an uncommon artist. He has skills in drawing, painting, performance art and sculpture as well as digital art, animation and illustration. He creates both fine art and commercial graphic art.
David has an extensive international exhibition record. He has performed in Taipei, Taiwan for the Double Ten Festival and in Edmonton, Alberta for the Edmonton Fringe Festival. He has represented the USA twice in the World Fire Sculpture Championship in Riga, Latvia and in Tallinn, Estonia. He has competed twice in the International Fire Sculpture Festival in Ischgl, Austria. He was commissioned to create art for Bergonnwend 2022 in Innsbruck, Austria and for the Roundhouse Community Center in Vancouver, British Columbia. His handpicked team won first prize in the “New Promethians”, Pacific Northwest Fire Sculpture Competition in Seattle, Washington. Additionally, he has exhibited in many galleries and museums all over the USA.
David Hartz received his B.F.A. from Akron University and his M.F.A. from Ohio State University. David was brought to Cincinnati from Seattle to design the curriculum and teach an Animation Certificate program in the Electronic Media Communications department at University of Cincinnati Blue Ash. He continues to explore new mediums, create new artwork as well as teach his animation students.

Location: Essex Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio
On the Drawing Table: I am currently working on a series of totems inside some mandala. The most unusual one is a beet. I love beets and thought that it may be a totem for some people. So far I have a luna moth, praying mantis, white owl, squid, bumble bee, beet and I just finished a fox.
Coming out soon:


How did you get your start as a professional artist?
I received my M.F.A. from Ohio State and could not find a job as a fine artist, so I turned my art skills into graphic arts and illustration. I found early success creating full color artwork for t-shirts at Airwaves in Columbus. My specialty was realistic wildlife. I then took that skill to Seattle, Washington and worked for Wild West Shirtworks. In Seattle, I worked on and off for Microsoft creating illustrations and interface design which introduced me to computers and Wacom tablets.
My animation mentor was Jim Coffin who created more than 300 animated commercials. At Smashing Ideas I created Flash animations for a lot of Universal artists like Madonna, Erikah Badu, Dr. Dre, and Devo. At the same time I was supporting myself with commercial graphic work I was also creating new fine art and exhibiting in various galleries and events.

Describe your work. 

Vector Image
Vector Image

I also make fire art. Here is a link to my video on Vimeo:
  Tell about your workspace. 

What are your favorite materials digital and traditional?
I am always seeking out new mediums and materials. For instance, I recently started created needle felted wool sculptures just to challenge myself. Needle felted wool has been traditionally a women’s craft material but I used it in a different conceptual way. My felted wool sculpture, “Heartfelt” won a prize in the ADC exhibition in 2013 and netted a solo show at the Carnegie Gallery in Covington in 2014.
Felted Sculpture

Digitally, I am always updating my skills to keep up with the technology. I teach software as well as concepts in my classes and have to keep abreast of new developments in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and other new animation products. Recently I have been using Illustrator software to produce a series of narrative scrolls. These scrolls are vector images and are resolution independent, which means that I can blow them up as large as I want or reduce them down with no lack of detail. I have printed one out on large fabric that is twelve feet wide and that is what I would like to do with all of them.

Vector Scroll Image

What’s your typical workday/work session like?
When I work, I like to get lost in my work. There could be several hours go by and yet it seems like only fifteen minutes. So I have to make sure that I have a good block of time to spend. Although, if I am working on a small sketch or piece, sometimes I work on it while watching television (O.K. mostly listening to television).

What do you do to keep yourself motivated as you work?
Once I start working, I do not have a problem with motivation. It is getting into the studio with an exciting idea that I have committed myself to work on that is sometimes a problem. I always have several ideas that I am considering; the problem is picking which one to do.

What is your dream job?
Since I first started my career, it has always been for my fine artwork to be popular enough to support me and to be carried by one or more galleries.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I always have several sketchbooks going. Whenever I go out I usually carry my small Moleskin sketchbook. I like listening to music and sketching the musicians and people at the bar. The musicians do not move a lot and they don’t mind you looking at them so they make great models.

What do you listen to while you work?
Funny you should mention that. At the beginning of the year I got a nice big studio space and I brought an old boom box and all my old cassette tapes. I have very happy playing all of my old cassette tapes that I haven’t heard in years.

What are you reading?
I am reading so many technical books on software to keep up with the updates that I don’t have time for a lot of pleasure reading. I usually read Tai Chi treatises in my spare time because I do Tai Chi everyday.

Who are your artistic influences?
Early on my influences were the Surrealists and the Dadaists. I love their absurd sense of humor. If there was one thing that probably is common throughout all my different mediums and forms of art – it is a sense of humor and absurdity.
I have different influences at different times in my life. For instance, when I was creating my Pop Surrealism paintings, I was looking at a lot of Robert Williams work.

What do you do that is not art related that inspires you?
My dreams have always been inspirational. My most favorite thing to do is sleep in late because I dream a lot then. I can experience lucid dreaming – where I can have a semi-conscious part in my own dreams. I have a whole series of works on black paper that came from my dreams. Currently, I am working on a very surreal animation that came to me in one of my dreams. 

What was the best advice you got in your career so far?
The best advice I got was early on in graduate school – which was that having a career, as an artist is a long distance race. You have got to stay in the race longer than everyone else to win it.

What is your favorite color?
This changes a lot. The light sea-green color of lichen seems to pop up a lot in my work.

How can we get best follow your art online/on social media?
Visit my website and visit my blog. I update my blog every week and have done so for over three years.


  1. I love the beet totem! And the way the fox ears are mimicked in the background shapes. So fun to see new sides of Dave I hadn't seen before! Awesome!

  2. Vanessa,
    Thank you for the kind comment. You are quite persceptive. As I progressed through this series, I created a simple shape - such as a simple fox shape head and repeated that in order to create the mandala background behind the figure. With the beet, I used a simple heart shape.