Tom Smith is not a digital artist. In his most recent show “Heavenly Bodies” the New York City based artist featured acrylic paintings inspired by the aesthetic of digital art. We sat down with the artist the hear more about his technique and his new video project "Tamala and the Volcano".
THE UNLIMITED - Your work reminds me of digital art but it is not, describe your technique?
Tom Smith - I like for my work to go in and out of those two illusions.
For a few years I was doing collages on paper that are cut into tiny strips and then glued together, so there is an illusion of it looking like a digital filter. That was the entry point for me into painting and after doing that process, I took on the challenge of finalizing a painting without slicing it and combining it.
Last January while working in Brazil I started using this illusion of putting two different colors on a paint brush and creating these brush strokes that sort of mimic digital output or a photoshop filter, or pixels even. A lot of the paintings in the show are using that technique, which kind of echoes the process before of a painting that looks like it is digitally created but then when you see it in person you see all of the hand techniques to create the picture.
TU- What inspires you?
TS- I am not necessarily inspired by digital culture in any way. It is not so in the foreground of what I am planning for each painting. I think about it a lot as like building an environment that could be explored in space or in time.
"The light that is in each painting is specifically supposed to remind me of a certain time of day."
Your color palette is vivid and computer like which only adds to the digitized illusion, care to elaborate ?
I am bit of an idealist, with color especially. 80% of the work that goes into my paintings is color studies. The colors are meant to inspire a certain type of reaction in the viewer as in other forms of entertainment. The color palette could come from a Disney or anime movie, more vibrant than true life but also referencing reality.
Can you tell us about your new piece?
I create these sci-fi surrealist videos that circle around idealism. In this case the idealistic vision of a woman or of a hero. In the video that I am working on now my character Tamala steps into the role of a volcano sacrifice. I shot the video in Iceland and under water on Fire Island. I also worked on a series of stop-motion animations that will be integrated into the piece. The final shoot will happen in New York using a green screen and the video will be released this year.