We’re busy getting ready for our opening with Boulder’s own SMiLE at madelife on November 11th by getting to know this beloved local street artist better – here is his recent 20-question interview and shots just taken from his studio with a video of work that will be on display and for sale at the show. SMiLE is exhibiting with artist and master printer Kevin Falco who we will feature next week, with his own interview and studio visit.
Name: SMiLE. As in: when you are wandering the city chomping on your fingernails and ruminating and you come across one of my paintings on a random street corner my plan is that you stop, lose your train of thought and are surprised by the artwork. Surprised and pleased, and that you smile. If it’s a real top notch piece than you won’t even remember what you were ruminating on. SMiLE.
Current Residence: Boulder.
Describe yourself and your work:
I am an enigma. As to my work, it’s more open than that. When I was young I struggled with how preoccupied we all become as we grow up. We ruminate about what happened at work or with our lover, we scheme and imagine our great fortunes to come, and more often than not the present moment is just a means to an end. I would hang out with friends and they would only half be there with me. But I don’t operate that way. I’ve become addicted to the present moment, people seem happier and younger and more imaginative when they drop their baggage are in the moment with me. So this artwork, the street art, it’s an attempt to surprise people in the middle of their rumination, they’re walking on the sidewalk on a random street corner and they see one of my paintings where they least expected to see it and it’s surreal and brings them into the moment where hopefully they smile along with me.
How did you get started in your career as an artist?
Fair or not, I was born to paint. I would say that my career as an artist officially began in first grade when I won the admiration of my class with a series of bloody portraits of Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees playing football. The teacher and principal werent pleased and quickly put an end to these shenanigans but not before my classmates felt the raw power of my imagination.
What piece of work best represents you and why (image too please if possible):
The smiling red fox best represents me for many reasons but when it’s late at night and I’m out there painting and it’s me and the foxes running around those empty cold streets and a fox looks me in the eyes I feel nothing but warmth and I know I’m part of the wild tribe that always dwindles but never disappears.
How do your materials influence your work?
Like a ninja has an assortment of weapons and tools tailored to suit their secretive ways and elusive skills, a masked street artist has a similarly minded set-up. My gear is designed for stealth, for quiet late night painting under the moonlight. I prefer to make a painting and then disappear into the crowd with my gear and stencils in-hand but hidden from sight…no excess baggage
SMiLE Studio visit
Where do you go to get inspired (can be physical or digital; can be more than one answer):
When I see good Street Art I feel elated, free of worries and present. With my stencils I have the opportunity to offer that sense of wonderment to others. When I imagine the many ways that this wonderment plays out I become inspired and impassioned to create.
What have you learned through creating that has surprised you?
How thin the line really is between vandalism and high art. A painting that one person buffs, another person will take their class of art students to see it. Pushing the limits has taught me a lot about people and even more about myself.
Describe your work routine for your artistic practice (i.e. morning person / night person; how many hours at a stretch, organized or spontaneous – you get the idea):
Most of my time is spent on art, either creating new designs, cutting stencils, painting in my studio or painting on the streets at night.
What is it like when you collaborate with other artists?
Stencil art is for the lobo’s. Stencilers meticulously create their images in the lab and nobody sees any of it until the entire design is finished. Because of this there is very little flexibility when it comes to spontaneous collaborations… we tend to know what we want, how we want it to look and where we want it to go in public before we even embark on the project.
How do you balance being an artist and making a living?
I let my passion for creating art lead the way and the rest of life orders itself around that founding principle. The more energy and passion I put into Street Art, the more my life arranges itself for me to be successful as an artist. It feels like effortless hard-ass-work.
What is your process for coming up with new work?
I’m constantly brainstorming new stencil design ideas, and when the rumination meets a wall in my city that matches it in my imagination, well that usually kicks me into gear and I begin the process of designing the stencils and envisioning the finished image.
Why do you believe art has value?
I see humanity as an ever-evolving interconnected consciousness, and I believe that art is humanities attempt to express the cutting edge of that evolution.
SMiLE Studio visit
What is playing on your stereo these days?
Silence or whatever it’ll take to get you to dance with me.
What are you reading right now?
An unauthorized biography of Banksy. And a book about the modern history of Paris.
Where is your favorite place to visit (here or abroad, visited or wanting to visit):
The midnight alleyways of Paris! The thrill of painting on such a beautiful city allied with the enthusiastic response to my art by the cities inhabitants is an intoxicating mixture that I often revel in as I fall asleep at night.
Which artist is currently inspiring you the most?
A handful of Parisian stencilers! Guate Mao, Emarstreet, Adey, Nasti, c215…i could go on and on. I’ve established friendships with many of these Parisians so I recognize their innovations and design experiments as their images hit the city walls and make the rounds on social media.
SMiLE Studio visit
What’s the best thing about your studio/ workspace/ workshop?
The best thing about my studio is the people who live around it and their enthusiasm for SMiLE.
What do you do to stay motivated to create?
I stay focused and intense in life, especially when I’m having fun. That intensity is a large bucket of the fuel that keeps me going. I care about my community, about the health of the people in it and about how we take care of one another and how we help each other smile.
What’s the best part about being an artist?
The best part about being an artist is following my heart and seeing where it leads me.