Zachery Lechtenberg is an illustrator who has been influenced by contemporary cartoon imagery, particularly the work of animator Matt Groening—best known for The Simpsons and Futurama—as well as the timely works of Japanese artist/designer Takashi Murakami, American illustrator/sculptor KAWS, and Hip Hop musicians The Wu-Tang Clan. He invents his own goofy but lovable characters that inhabit a world populated with artifacts from contemporary pop culture, transferring his original, highly detailed drawings onto brooches and necklaces through the technique of champlevé enameling. Related imagery is often engraved on the reverse.
For his latest body of work, Lechtenberg has derived inspiration from a common tool used in graphic design and printing—Non-Photo Blue, a shade of blue that cannot be detected by cameras or copiers, thereby allowing the artist to sketch lines without the need to erase them after inking. Functionally invisible, drawings made with non-photo blue can be read as metaphors for the drawings that precede the final version, representative of the thought process and labor that came before. Somewhat saddened by what must remain unseen, Lechtenberg titled the exhibition “Non-Photo Blues.”
Born and raised in the Midwest, amid dense cornfields and flowing rivers, Lechtenberg claims to have developed his personal narrative to avoid boredom. He received a BFA from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois and MFA from East Carolina University in Greenville, South Carolina, where he studied with the legendary Robert Ebendorf, who considers Lechtenberg’s voice unique among the legion of young artists working today. For his MFA thesis, Lechtenberg designed an installation in the guise of a pop-up store that displayed an array of his wacky wares—enamelwork, clothing, sketches, ashtrays, cutting boards, and even skateboards. A proud believer in the consumer ethos, Lechtenberg’s practice includes jewelry encased within compatibly illustrated packaging and laser-engraved tabletop objects, along with printed T-shirts, stickers, and slaps (a form of graphic street art). He has participated in several group and two-person exhibitions. His work is included in important international private collections.