Thursday, 14 December 2006

Interview with Casey Jex Smith

Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?

A)My full name is Casey Jex Smith. I decided to use my full name because there are a lot of Smith's out there. My Mom thought it would be a good idea. I'm 29. I was born in Detroit but raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. And yes, I am Mormon.

Q) How did you get started making art?

A)I can't remember a time when I wasn't making art. Both my Mother, Joanne and my brother, Jacob were artists and so we always had markers and paper laying around. I think I got most of my drawing time in during church services on Sundays.

Q)How would you describe your art?

A)Somewhere in between the 2nd generation Mission School, Hudson River School, and BYU Celestial Style.

Q)Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related

A) My biggest influences that are both art and non-art related are surprisingly in music and not art; Sufjan Stevens, Half-Handed Cloud, and Low. Art related I would first have to say the San Francisco artists like Amanda Lynch, John Casey, Chris Duncan, Kyle Ranson, Paul Urich, Crust & Dirt, Alicia McCarthy, Keegan McHargue, Andy Vogt, Paul Wackers, Chris Johanson, and Shaun O'Dell. Outside of the Bay Area I've been influenced by Joanne Smith (my Mom) CCA Christensen, James Turrell, Kerry James Marshall, Mark Mulroney, Jovi Schnell, Terry Winters, Jared Lindsay Clark, Julie Mehretu, Todd Chilton, and William Kentridge.

Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?

A)I usually browse through my image library consisting of old and new religious illustrations. Something will usually jump out at me and I'll use that as a starting point. The narratives are usually built in the drawing though, not before hand.

Q) What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?

A)Pens. You can't erase. Erasing is mostly unhealthy.

Q) What is your favourite art related web site?

A) It's written by Bob Calloway who retired from his day job a year or two ago and now goes to art openings, writes, curates, collects, and visits artists. Super friendly and helpful guy. Much needed in the Bay Area Scene. And of course

Q) Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?

A)100% hand done. Won't even use a ruler. The human line has got to be there however imperfect, slow, or dope it is.

Q) What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?

A)Best: artist run spaces. Worst: spaces that are using you as filler.

Q) I'm always interested in where an artist find their inspiration. Where do you find yours?

A)The Bible, Book of Mormon, and any artwork that has illustrated something from either.

Q)How are the reactions on your work in general?

A)"Nice clouds...", "I like your colors...", "Too much white space..."

Q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?

A)I'm working some manual labor job to pay the bills or sitting around thinking about not wanting to work another manual labor job. I hang out with my girlfriend and make her watch my favorite movies like Legend and The Neverending Story. I go to church Sunday mornings and then get in an hour or two of some fantasy RPG on my computer. Kill some trolls and ogres and build up my stash.

Q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?

A)99% of the population does not care about art at all. (hard to make a living)

Q) Do you believe that a person is born with a talent to produce art or can anyone can be taught?

A)Anybody can get better at anything. But some people are born with more facility and intelligence. Doesn't mean they'll succeed though. Hard work (in the right direction) will always beat out straight talent (that's lazy) I think.

Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?

A)A little drawing I did called "Tongues of Water in the Garden of Eden" is probably the strongest to me.

Q) What are some current/upcoming projects you are working on or excited about?

A)I've got a show in Chicago right now that will be up until early January I think. It's at Fifty50 Gallery. I'm showing with a BYU friend, Jared Lindsay Clark.

Q) What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

A)Work hard. Say your prayers. Read your scriptures. Go to church on Sundays.

Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

A)My favorite galleries are Stephen Wolf, Catharine Clark, Blankspace Gallery,Taylor de Cordoba, Gregory Lind, Lobot, Ego Park, Adobe Books, and Needles and Pens.

Q)Do you need others to tell you they like it before you feel validated?


Q)Tell us a little about some of the different types of jobs you've had over the years, before/while doing what you do now. For someone who is starting out in art, how would you recommend they go about making a career out of it?

A)I've been a line cook at a cafe, a front desk attendant at a hotel, a filer, a warehouse stacker, and a freelance illustrator for Williams Sonoma. Right now I'm unemployed and looking for another crap job. I honestly can't say that I've liked any of these jobs except the occasional job for Williams Sonoma. If you are going to make art your career I suggest you get your MFA at a state run school where tuition is cheap, and you can teach undergrad classes. Don't ever party, just sit at home and obsess over those obsessive paintings until someone you like comes knocking on your door.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…links

A)My website is and you can purchase my work at Swarm Gallery, ADA Gallery, and Eleanor Harwood Gallery. Very affordable for an emerging artist.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


23 December 2006 at 23:44:00 GMT-8  

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