Interview With M. Smith

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I’m a visual artist and full-time college instructor living in Covington, Kentucky and working in Cincinnati, Ohio. I create a variety of abstract collages, drawings and paintings.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Truthfully, inspiration for my work comes to me in bursts that are short-lived. So with this, most of the inspiration I gain for working comes from the making of the work itself. I connect to the physicality that comes with making something – touching my materials and the movements within the studio. I think that the aspect of the unknown appeals to me more than anything. I’m not at all opposed to happenstance – generally for the reason that whatever occurs from such comes from my own hand. I am a big believer that it is important to allow ambiguity to find its way into a work through a relinquishment of control. Making a mark that you never knew you could make is extremely edifying; this can feed a creative process and allow for new creative directions to come into fruition.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I frequently work on stonehenge printmaking paper – I love how it collects ink and watercolor. I’ve also developed a big love for spray paint – its smoothness and immediacy is exciting to me. It allows for a certain precision and lack thereof – I appreciate when media support these kinds of contrast. This brings a certain freedom to working when materials offer such a wide range of capabilities.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
I think that there is a seriality in my work regarding certain studio applications. I am drawn to metallic colors and geometries found in the natural world. Touch is another theme I often focus on in my process – specifically through the hand and how it can connect to something greater than oneself.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
So much valuable advice has been given to me, so I think this combination sums it all up: Show up, and just make your work. Do not be afraid of making something that feels uncertain or lousy. If you're going to stop, make it brief. For work to evolve and grow, it needs to constantly be in flux. Be honest with yourself and your needs as an artist. Oh yeah, and the library is your best friend.

See more of M. Smith's work here