Artist Chaz Letzkus

Chaz began his unique style of drawing after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Economics (Go Panthers). After a brief stint at U.S. Steel as a cost analyst he headed west to sunny Southern California. He ended up in Laguna Beach and worked at a resort while working on a children’s book and his tan.

He moved up to Los Angeles to manage a multi-media theater for ABC Television called The Hollywood Experience. There he went to movie premieres, got to meet stars and thought he was cool. But he missed his family and his native Pittsburgh. Go Steelers, Go Pirates, Go Penguins, Go Panthers, Go Home. So he moved back to the ‘Burgh.

He hadn’t seen snow for six years so that first winter back Chaz hid inside and drew. He settled down and worked for 12 years at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The amazing specimens at the Natural History Museum were a great influence along with the works at the Museum of Art and Andy Warhol Museum. The Omnimax films at the Science Center that were about nature were favorites. The Zoo, Phipps Conservatory and National Aviary also provided plenty of inspiration and nature in all its glory.

Chaz is often asked how he got into this style of art. While searching for a job after graduating college, he did a lot of drawing to pass the time. Chaz was working on a gazelle drawing and the ears reminded him of a bird’s wings so he drew a bird swooping down and he made the eye a fish. He added a lot of other animals and some people in the body of the gazelle. And thus Chazmania was born in 1973.

There were a lot of early influences that contributed to this hidden image style. Chaz is a puzzle person and someone who sees images or faces in clouds or the grain of wood. Find the Hidden Objects page in Highlights Magazine was an early favorite. Santana’s first album cover with the lion head made up of 9 faces and a native woman made a deep impression. M.C. Escher is Chaz’s favorite artist and his complex work requires you to look closer. Even more current examples like Where’s Waldo?, Magic Eye, and I Spy continue to provide inspiration.  

The idea of hiding a “Chaz face” in each drawing came about at an art show while showing some kids a drawing he was working on. To amuse them, Chaz drew his face in the drawing and had them find it. They had fun with it and Where’s Waldo?  became Where’s Chaz? There’s a playful quality to his drawings and Chaz enjoys creating them and joking with people he encounters. He’s reminded of a quote by George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”