Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Nothing Gold Can Stay."

 We had the pleasure to do a studio visit and interview with our next featured artist, Adam Smith!
His show "Mind Your Manners" opens next Friday June 10th at our Northern Liberties location!
Adam is an illustrator, designer, and screen printer based in Philadelphia."Mind Your Manners" will highlight a new body of watercolor paintings that reflect the ideas of kindness, humbleness, and the golden rule.
Adam in his studio at Part Time Studios
Mallory: Originally from North Carolina, I am always interested in people’s experience of being transplanted in a new and different culture. How was your experience in Savannah as an artist? How does it compare to Philly?

Adam Smith: After I graduated from SCAD, I lived in Savannah for two years.  I was making jewelry and sculpture at the time, and traveling to craft shows around the country.  Savannah is a magical place where it's really easy to not grow up.  I enjoyed my time there, but Philadelphia has a much more nourishing art scene.  I don't want to put Savannah down in any way because it holds a special place in my heart, but Philly is just a better environment for an up-and-coming artist.  I may end up back in Savannah eventually, my wife is from there.

M: It seems as though your work has evolved quite a bit since graduating from SCAD. Jewelry, to three dimensional sculptures, to painting and printmaking. What is it about printmaking that interests you? Do you see yourself pursuing any other mediums in the near future?

AS: I graduated from SCAD with a BFA in Metals and Jewelry.  My senior thesis, and the work I pursued for a few years after college, were interactive box sculptures that can be described as a combination of Joseph Cornell's work and Terry Gilliam's animations.  They started with a lot of found objects and fabricated mechanical parts, and over time I introduced more elements that were painted on wood and cut out.  I was infusing an illustrated element which I hadn't really explored since high school.  It came to a point where I either really figured out how to do this 3D / 2D combination, or just went flat.  So I went flat.  I taught myself how to paint with acrylics, and a studio mate taught me the basics of screen-printing.  The screen-printing interests me because it's such a different process than painting and it provides a break from creating.  Being creative all the time can be exhausting, so I actually look forward to print days because I get to be a technician.  I can turn off the right side of my brain and just pull prints.  As far as other mediums, I've recently been teaching myself to paint with watercolors, which will be a lot of my show at Arcadia.  And I'm translating those paintings into CMYK process screen prints.  I've been thinking about starting a T-shirt brand too, but that's way down the road.
M: As a member of Part Time Studios, what are some of the benefits of working in a communal space?

AS: I think the biggest benefit is the shared creative energy.  Being able to bounce ideas off each other is really helpful.

M: You stated on your website that your “…goal as an artist is to interpret, record, and honor all things human.  Joy, pain, love, death, faith, humor, history…these are all things that we as humans have in common and they are all things that can and do bring us together as well as push us apart.” What specific human experience has been inspiring you most recently?

AS: Wow.  Gettin' deep.  Lately I've been struggling with accepting my slow steep climb towards success as an artist and how that fits into the grand scheme of eternity.  I am often guilty of believing the illusion that my overall happiness or worth in life is dependent on my success, so I've been trying to create work that focuses on a grander theme than myself.  Or conveying a message to myself that everything is not as important as it seems.  One print I made recently was inspired by the scene in The Outsiders when Ponyboy and Johnny are talking about the sunset, Johnny says, "'s like the mist is what's pretty you know?  All gold and silver.  Too bad it can't stay like that all the time."  And then Ponyboy delivers that famous line, "Nothing gold can stay."  That resounded in my head and reminded me that what we do here is temporary.  I believe in the Christian God, so I believe I have more to live for than my art.  Sorry if that's more than you wanted to know (laughs).

M: A lot of your work is figurative with imagery taken from popular culture. I see a lot of tattoos, flannels, fitted hats, cassette tapes, skateboards, etc, etc. Are you depicting specific people or just responding to everyday life?

AS: Not specific people exactly, although I'm often asked if my characters are me, which they're not.  I'm inspired by what I see in street culture with fashion, tattoos, graffiti, skateboarding.  I think that makes the work more relatable to myself.

M: Is there any theme you are focusing on for your show at Arcadia?

AS: The title of the show is Mind Your Manners.  I'm not exactly sure where that came from, it just popped into my head.  But I suppose it suggests the ideas of kindness, humbleness, the golden rule, etc.  Just a suggestion to be a good person.  

M: What type of work should we expect to see? Printmaking, painting, or a little of both?

AS: The show will be heavy on watercolor paintings.  My goal is to have two or three large-ish pieces, about 30 x 40 inches, and a few smaller ones.  I'll also have some new prints.  In fact I have to get started on a new painting now.  Thanks!
In progress work for "Mind Your Manners."
 Don't forget to RSVP to the event on Arcadia's Facebook page: here

In the mean time, check out Adam's website & Etsy page!

Thanks for sharing Adam! 
Looking forward to the show!

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