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“I had a time when I didn’t verbally express myself very often so art was a way to interact with my surroundings.”

Embarking on an Artistic Voyage

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Mark T Smith‘s journey took a pivotal turn when he moved to New York City in the mid-eighties to immerse himself in the vibrant arts education offered by Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. This transition marked the beginning of Smith’s emergence as an iconoclastic figure in the art world, distinguishing himself through his innovative paintings, animations, and design work. The bustling metropolis of New York City provided not just a backdrop but a dynamic canvas for Smith to explore and express his burgeoning artistic voice. His early years in the city were characterized by a fervent exploration of identity and expression, facilitated by the diverse cultural and social landscapes he navigated. This period was instrumental in shaping the thematic and stylistic contours of Smith’s work, laying the foundation for his distinct artistic language.

The support of corporate patronage played a crucial role in elevating Smith’s visibility and influence within the competitive New York City art scene. Collaborations with major corporations such as MTV, Pepsi, AT&T, Budweiser, VH-1, Walt Disney Co, and others not only bolstered his credibility but also provided unique platforms for his art to reach wider audiences. Notably, the “Absolut Smith” campaign for Absolut Vodka in 1996 became a defining moment in his career, symbolizing his arrival as a significant figure in contemporary art. This period of collaboration and recognition facilitated a broader exhibition of Smith’s work, both within the U.S. and internationally, extending his influence and the reach of his creative vision to major contemporary art fairs, motion pictures, and global campaigns, including the United States Olympic Team’s poster for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Taco Bell’s international retail locations.

Mark T Smith: Navigating Artistic Evolution and Themes

Mark T Smith’s artistic style is a testament to his incessant quest for exploration and expression. His repertoire, rich with diagrams, notes, maps, drawings, and paintings, serves as a visual narrative of transitions and journeys. This thematic exploration is deeply intertwined with Smith’s personal and professional odyssey, reflecting his contemplations on the myriad paths one embarks upon in life. The artist’s work delves into the introspective journey of self-discovery as well as the outward exploration into the vast expanse of religious archetypes and insights. Smith’s visual language, ever-evolving, is a mirror to his life’s philosophy of remaining open to daily influences, whether they stem from nature, travels, research, or the urban tapestry of his surroundings. This openness to the world around him fuels his creative output, making each piece a unique reflection of a moment, thought, or exploration.

Smith’s workspace is an extension of his artistic ethos, blending the need for natural and artificial light to accommodate his creative rhythms. Despite preferring the urban settings for their vibrancy and inspiration, he has adapted his studios, typically in the 400-500 square foot range, to be sanctuaries of creativity. This balance between the bustling city life and the solitude of his studio reflects Smith’s approach to distractions and the necessity of a conducive environment for artistic creation. Whether it’s through the large-scale dreams of working in an airplane hangar-sized studio or the pragmatic reality of his well-located urban spaces, Smith’s workspace dynamics are a crucial element in his creative process, enabling him to produce artworks that continue to captivate and intrigue audiences worldwide.

The Tapestry of Inspirations

The artistic journey of Mark T Smith is a rich tapestry woven from diverse influences and an open-minded approach to the world. Smith does not attribute his inspiration to a static set of influences; instead, he adopts a fluid philosophy that welcomes new ideas and inspirations on a daily basis. Whether drawn from the natural environment, the bustling streets of the cities he inhabits, or the myriad of human-made wonders, Smith’s work is a reflection of his perpetual openness to the world around him. This approach not only keeps his work fresh and evolving but also allows him to explore a broad spectrum of themes and styles. The artist’s refusal to be pigeonholed into a single artistic narrative or style is a testament to his belief in the transformative power of daily influences, be they subtle shifts in perspective or groundbreaking encounters.

The significance of certain artworks to Smith lies in their innovative approach or the serendipitous moments that occur during their creation, making them invaluable for the insights they provide into his evolving technique. These pieces, often marked by a departure from his usual methods or by the unexpected emergence of new themes, hold a special place in his oeuvre. They are not just artworks but milestones that map out his artistic evolution, offering a glimpse into the moments of clarity, challenge, and change that define his creative journey. This constant learning and adaptation process underlines Smith’s enduring passion for art and his relentless pursuit of personal and artistic growth.

Photo By Simon Hare Photography

Mark T Smith: The Mediums and the Dream Projects

Mark T Smith’s exploration of mediums is as varied as his sources of inspiration. His artistic vocabulary extends across a dizzying array of two-dimensional media, encompassing paper, canvas, found objects, and wood, as well as linoleum block printing and sculptural media since 2008. This diversity in mediums underscores Smith’s restless creativity and his commitment to expressing his artistic vision in the most authentic manner possible. Each medium offers him a different texture, a unique palette of possibilities, and challenges that push him to refine his techniques and explore new avenues of expression. The artist’s recent venture into sculptural media marks yet another chapter in his ever-expanding exploration of form and material, signaling his unwillingness to rest on his laurels and a continuous quest for new modes of expression.

The rekindling of Smith’s passion for art in 2020, following a decade-long semi-hiatus, heralded a period of prolific output and renewed creative vigor. His engagement with projects such as the album cover for UB40 and a mural for Valley Bank served as catalysts for this resurgence, propelling him towards the realization of long-held dreams and the pursuit of new ambitions. One such dream is to undertake an art residency, a goal that will soon be realized in Spain near Barcelona. This upcoming residency not only represents a significant personal milestone for Smith but also promises to be a fertile ground for creative experimentation and international collaboration. At the age of 56, Smith’s commitment to his art is unwavering, as he continues to work diligently towards an upcoming exhibition and to fulfill his artistic ambitions, demonstrating that for him, the journey of exploration and creation is an endless horizon.

Embracing the Digital Frontier: Mark T Smith’s Innovative NFT Venture

As part of Smith’s tech-forward rhetoric, he is partnering with Ikigai Technologies’ innovative NFT auction house, Grabbit (grabbit.market), to release an exclusive, one-of-a-kind NFT piece the week of February 26th, 2024.

Ikigai Technologies, one of the largest developers on the Cardano Blockchain, has created Grabbit to provide creators in Web3 innovative tools and features to engage their communities, such as token-gated auctions, fully on-chain auctions, and phygital goods capabilities. Check out Smith’s exclusive auction on Grabbit, where he is their featured artist the week of February 26th!

Through this move, Smith will become one of the most tech-forward painters in the industry. Grabbit has featured creators ranging from renowned NFT collections such as The Book of Ikigai, Mancini, and Japan-native Takuroman, to unconventional NFT creators like Smith and Celebrity Chef Katsuji Tanabe. If you’re interested in potentially being a featured artist, reach out to them here.

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