Art or Nothing
He wakes up every morning and immediately opens his laptop. First he checks his emails
to see if current or new clients have messaged him. Then he opens Adobe Photoshop to make
minor changes on projects he is working on. His room is adorned with paintings he has finished
over the years. On his desk are several cups filled with paintbrushes, colored pencils, and
charcoal pencils. Zabdi Medel is an artist and freelance graphic designer. He also graduated from
Montclair State University last May.
“I became interested in art as a nice escape from the world,” said Medel.
Medel became interested in art in high school as a freshman. By chance, he took an art
class and ever since, he has been in love. After high school Medel decided to pursue a Bachelor
of Arts in Fine Arts, Art and Design with a concentration in Studio Painting.
Zabdi is of Mexican descent. His brown curly hair compliments his light brown eyes. He
sits up straight and carries a little sketchpad everywhere we go incase “inspiration strikes.” There is paint on his fingers and all over his bag. He orders a large coffee — black.
Medel decided to hone in his passion for his culture and art and mix the two. While at
Montclair State, Zabdi decided to join the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). He was voted on as the organization’s Publicity Chair and used his graphic design background to create all of the club’s flyers and run their social media campaigns. During his last year as
Publicity Chair, Medel painted a mural on the walls of the LASO’s office that celebrated the unity of Latinos.
“I’m glad that mural will be a staple on that wall for many years to come. It feels like I left my stamp at MSU and incoming freshman can walk into that office and automatically see that first,” said Medel.
Medel’s parents’ house is adorned with his paintings from throughout the years. He points out a small canvas painting of a woman with purple hair.
“I won the ‘Young Creator’s award’ for this one my senior year of high school. That was really the moment I realized I was good enough to do this for a living,” said Medel.
Front and center in the living room is an enormous piece Medel completed for his studio painting class last year. In it, the subject has hair made of colorful macaroons. This piece was chosen to appear in Montclair State University’s Gallery 2.5 in Calcia Hall.
“You don’t see this kind of creativity very often in young artists. From the start he thought outside the box to create one of kind pieces,” said Marie Maber, an Art professor of Medel’s.
Unfortunately for Medel, the job search didn’t come as easily as he expected upon graduating MSU. Medel still continues to search for a permanent position.
“It’s hard because I know I can do the things these jobs ask for. No one tells you that the real hard work begins after graduation when you are expected to land a job almost immediately,”
said Medel. Medel has resorted to freelancing in graphic design. He scours the internet for opportunities that arise. He has done several work for small companies and is currently working on a design for InspiMind, a company started by another Montclair State University Graduate, Wilfredo Betance.
“Zabdi was the first person that came to mind when I needed someone to design things for the company. He has an eye for finding what works best and what is most pleasing to the human eye,” said Betance.
Zabdi continues to look for permanent work at a Graphic Design Studio. He is hopeful for the future.
“I chose art because I was passionate about it. I got into this knowing it wouldn’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be worth it if it came so easily. If it’s not art and design, I’m not interested in it,” said Medel.