Charming Chalk Characters Come Alive by Cleverly Interacting With the Environment

Chalk Art by David Zinn

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If you're ever walking through Ann Arbor, Michigan, keep an eye on the ground—you may just find something delightfully unexpected. Artist David Zinn uses his creative talents to add charming chalk drawings to sidewalks, staircases, and other niche corners of the city. Each of these cartoonish characters playfully interacts with the environment in such a way that will bring a smile to your face.

Zinn's art is easy to spot for its distinct style. He renders a range of animal and mythological characters including foxes, dragons, dogs, and creatures straight from his imagination. Despite their stylized appearance, many of these illustrations appear to have three-dimensional depth, which Zinn achieves through the use of perspective and shading. In this way, these artworks look as though they are standing or placed underneath the surface rather than drawn on top.

Some of the clever places that Zinn places his original creations include a crack in the sidewalk where a green weed becomes the body of a verdant doglike creature. Another piece of chalk art imagines a wooden staircase acting as a couch for a sleepy squirrel. Because each of these pieces is made using chalk, they are, by nature, ephemeral and will wash away with the elements. This vulnerability, however, makes the artwork a precious find; you know that Zinn made a special effort to bring life to a small part of the city, even if its lifespan is only for a couple of days.

If you’d like to learn how to draw like Zinn, he has a book called Chalk Art Handbook that contains all of his “tricks and secrets.” It’s now available through Bookshop. To purchase more from Zinn, be sure to check out his online store.

Artist David Zinn adds charming chalk drawings to his surrounding environment.

Chalk Art by David ZinnChalk Drawings by David ZinnChalk Art by David ZinnChalk Drawings by David Zinn

These cartoon characters are placed on the sidewalk, stairs, and other niche places.

Chalk Art by David ZinnChalk Drawings by David ZinnChalk Art by David Zinn

Zinn renders them in such a way that they look like they are actually in the environment—not just drawn on top of it.

Chalk Art by David ZinnChalk Drawings by David ZinnChalk Art by David ZinnChalk Art by David ZinnChalk Art by David Zinn

The city is so much more fun with these charming characters drawn in!

Chalk Art by David ZinnChalk Art by David ZinnChalk Art by David ZinnChalk Art by David Zinn


David Zinn: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by David Zinn.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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