About Zavier Leslie Cabarga

I’ve been an illustrator, book, font, and logo designer all my life. I am also the author of over a dozen published books on graphic design, logo design, color theory, cartoon animation, and illustration.

I have also done carpentry and remodeling all my life. To me, it’s just graphic design in 3D (with a lot more dust).
My chief influences in this field are the 1880s to the 1950s, especially Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Craftsman, Art Deco, and Mid-Century design and architecture.

As a kid I started experimenting with scrap wood in my father’s small wood shop. At twelve I sketched plans for built-in cabinets flanking a drawing table that I built for one wall of my room.

At twenty-one I bought a 1905 Victorian house in San Francisco. Suddenly I realized, “Hey, it’s my house, I can take down walls and do anything I want to it!” All the renovations I made are still in use today.

I left San Francisco for New York City to enter the higher-paying profession of illustration. As Wikipedia so nicely puts it, “By the late 1970s, Cabarga had become one of the most popular illustrators in New York, creating covers for Time, Newsweek, and Fortune, to name just a few. His work has appeared in several Art Directors Club of New York annuals, as well as the Print annual, and he is profiled in Walt Reed’s book The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000 (Watson-Guptill, 2001).”

At thirty-one, I bought my second house, an immense, historic 1880 Victorian mansion in Philadelphia. With two living rooms, and an oak-paneled library, I set up my first fully-equipped woodworking shop in the formal parlor of the house. I restored much of the house during the next thirteen years, increasing my building skills and experience.

Next came a 1926 duplex in Los Angeles and more renovations including the baths, kitchen, and the entire back yard that became “the four seasons garden.”

It was while building the kitchen cabinets in a craftsman style for this house that I realized nothing else was more thrilling to me than building—I resented having to sleep at night because it interrupted my building fun. I decided to switch professions and am now doing cabinet-making and remodelling full-time.

Having cured myself of my big house fever, and after fifteen years of downsizing by selling virtually all of my collectibles on ebay, I happened to tour a friend’s tiny house. A couple of months later I realized, “I want to build one of those!”

My own tiny house, shown on this site, is now about 75% complete, due to the complexity of the cabinetry. My publishers and illustration clients know me as someone who finishes projects and completes them on schedule! My house WILL be done, but in this case I am the client and I’m not rushing myself.

Meanwhile, I have recently undertaken the complete rebuilding of the interiors for a friend’s 1953 Spartan Royal Mansion RV. This is being designed in a lavish Art Deco style.