Friday, March 20, 2009

Featured Artist Spotlight: David Burns Smith

My third featured artist is David of davidburnssmith. I met David in the same Etsy forum I met the previous artist:Do you want SALES? Then, follow these steps :) thread... David is a very talented artist who creates Original Acrylic Paintings on Wood...

Start off by telling us about yourself...

Born in a Mississippi River town, I was raised on the edge of a farming community, made drawings, had a dog(best friend) named Murphy, and extensively debated the nature of most everything with his older sister. Attending Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, I discovered sculpture, printmaking, and Photography, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1998. There, I produced the two-person exhibition Address Context showcasing a collection of artists books.

Lured by the “Big City”, I moved south on the Mississippi in 1998 to attend graduate school at Memphis College of Art, where I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. In 2000 I exhibited Anodyne at the Memphis Art Center featuring photographic images shot with a modified Epson flatbed scanner and a 1000 watt flood lamp printed on watercolor paper. In 2001, I adopted a wayward Basset Hound and named him Tony.

From there, I traveled north on the Mississippi to become Assistant Director of Xen Gallery in Saint Louis, Missouri. Etching a studio out of a 19th century Saint Louis basement, I began a career as a studio artist. In 2005, I produced the solo exhibit the Arcana, consisting of 24 paintings on wood. The Arcana was followed in 2007 with my next solo exhibit Tzolk’in, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures on wood.

Presently, I share a home and studio with my fiancée Mary Cheragotti, where I am working on paintings from the series Ragnarok. The culmination of this series will be exhibited as The Ragnarok Project in May 2009 at Wild Flower. Through March 2009, my work is featured in a solo exhibition at Mississippi Mud house under the title The Mythos Project.

My work can be seen at The Grove Furnishings and Mississippi Mud House in Saint Louis, MO, The Jacoby Art Center in Alton, IL, Kaskaskia College in Centralia, IL, Memphis College of Art in Memphis, TN, and the recently defunct Xen Gallery in Saint Louis, MO. My paintings and sculptures are in private collections in Taipei, Taiwan, Washington D.C., Detroit, MI, Indianapolis, IN, Minneapolis, MN and New York, NY.

When did you start painting and how did you get into it?

More sanitary than a pacifier, my parents kept me occupies with crayons, paint, construction paper, and duct tape (which I was notorious for steeling from my father’s toolbox.) My earliest work was portraits of my dog, sometimes outfitted in an astronaut’s suit or riding a motorcycle. In college I rebelled, trying my hand at sculpture, but eventually settled into the printmaking studio. That’s when I discovered ink, solvents, and the intaglio press. The love affair eventually came to an end, however. The expense of setting up a press was entirely too daunting so I reinvented myself as a painter, utilizing techniques lifted from my experience as a printmaker.

Where do you get the ideas for your creations?

If it can be pillaged and/or plundered I’ve probably given it some thought. My approach is to investigate a culture, study it’s religion/mythology, assemble cohesive symbols, and re-present those ideas, stories, and symbolism in a body of paintings (and sometimes sculptures.) Which leads me to reflect on the “creation(s)” myth. If you look to physics and consider Neuton’s Conservation of Energy principle, you’ll remember, "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed," it can, however, be changed. This applies to the process of thought, and why wouldn’t it? Ideas are an amalgamation experience. In short, my ideas don’t relate to “creation” so much as an “evolution” of ideas, images, and symbols that have proceeded me, re-presented in the changed form (the painting).

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Why?

In ten years I see myself operating an independent, sustainable studio. Also, there’s probably a kid or two nipping at my ankles bugging me for freezer pops and tied shoe laces. I believe this because I’m determined and surround myself with clever people.

If you could sta
rt over with your business is there anything you would do differently?

Given a time machine, I would probably sit down with myself and write up a detailed business plan. That is to say, so long at those actions didn’t cause a kind of horrible rift in the time-space continuum. All kidding aside, you can’t beat a well-oiled business plan.

Do you work at your art/craft full time or do you have another job?

My efforts in the studio are balanced by exhibition installation contracts a few times a year at Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, I also teach a class one night a week, six weeks at a time, up to six times a year. I build the occasional bookcase and paint the occasional house as well, based entirely on random requests. lol

Who do you admire (artist or otherwise)? Why?

I take me lead from Cindy Sherman, Claes Oldenburg, Joseph Kosuth; all for their approach to presenting ideas, specifically holding up a mirror on society. I have great respect for Richard Dawkins. George Carlin has played a vital role in shaping my beliefs and perspective without spoiling my optimism in the process. The person I admire the most, however, is Al Gore, who may well save the entire planet…one slideshow at a time.

What tips would you have for someone that is just starting out?

If you are determined and maintain an optimistic perspective, your single biggest challenge as an artist is to identify your market and your individual role in that market. Art can be personal, but unless your goal is to emulate Emily Dickinson, you’re going to want to consider basic tenants of economics

Be sure to check out his blog: Original Acrylic Paintings on Wood by David Burns Smith and his Etsy shop...


slosurfer said...

David, great advice and thanks for sharing with us about you life. Your work is great!!!!!

sassyglassdesigns said...

This is a great feature and David's paintings are great.

Anonymous said...

Your work is fabulous David! What talent!

esque said...

Very thorough feature and wonderful advice! David, you are truly talented!


David Burns Smith said...

Thanks everyone for reading the feature! I was so proud when I was ask to participate.

For more info on my work, ideas, and new items I am working on, please visit my blog:

And, a special thanks to Tara for all her support and comradeship.