Monday Motivation #6 : Audrey Smith
Ms. Audrey Smith is an old favorite of mine on the list of mixed media artists. She spends her time collecting plush anything and making collages out of everything. We found each other via tumblr and I instantly knew she would be featured on the blog. Using old magazines, vintage papers, and bright patterns, she creates one of kind collages to heal the soul. Her ATCs and mail art are among the best I have seen! She was kind enough to answer my questions and tell us how it’s done. To learn more about Audrey and her work visit her blog or website.
Roni J: There is no question that collage is your favorite type of art. Why does this way of creating work for you and how does it play into your lifestyle?
Audrey Smith: Since I was a kid I’ve always enjoyed making stuff. I used to make elaborate houses out of tissue boxes and other found objects from around the house. I’ve always enjoyed taking disparate items and incorporating them in order to make something entirely new. Every artist has a method of working that suits them best, for me it’s always been putting things together.
RJ: What are your favorite collage materials? Tools of the trade?
AS: My most trusted tools are a pair of Dahle 6 inch professional paper scissors, my No. 2 X-acto knife, and Liquitex matte gel medium. Those three items are the most important things on my work table. I have become particular about scissors, because not all are made well enough to cut all manner of paper in a precise manner. I bought the Dahle scissors while in art school for a photography class (to cut film) and it was only when I started collaging that I realized that not all scissors are created equally. It’s important to find well made, reliable tools. As far as materials go, I’m open. I do like to experiment, though I’ve come to prefer acrylics over other paints because I’ve really learned how to work with them over the years. As far as collage ephemera, I love colorful patterned papers, vintage and antique books, magazines, etc. As far as surfaces go, I’ll work on just about anything, bought or found. I often find myself thinking that there are so many amazing materials out there, yet so little time!
RJ: In the “mixed media” world these days, there are so many different forms of art, such as ATCs, mail art, and art journals. Do you prefer one over the other even though they all include collage techniques?
AS: I love ATCs and mail art because it gives you the opportunity to swap and collaborate with others. I think that interaction between artists is beneficial. As far as art journals go, I keep two Moleskines: one for collaging, and one for ideas and notes. All through art school I had to keep a sketchbook; I’m trying to keep that going with my art journals, though they are both definitely an on again off again sort of thing. I would love to make both more of a daily habit.
RJ: I love your moleskines. I read that you have been doing them since ‘07. Why did you start and how many do you have now? Do you sell them?
AS: So far I have the one collage Moleskine that I started in 2007. I studied sculpture and ceramics in art school thinking that I would be a sculptor. I graduated in 2003 and made small ceramic sculptures up until around the beginning of 2007. That time was a real struggle for me because I was having logistics issues in terms of my work space, my time, and in general my purpose as a sculptor. After completing a sculpture commission at the end of 2006, I decided to take a hiatus from ceramics in order to figure out what it was I was trying to do as an artist. I did not want to stop creating, so I decided to work out of a Moleskine sketchbook. I thought that it would be sketches and notes about sculpture, but instead I started creating collages. Collaging just came naturally; it was a very organic process. Before long I was making collages on paper, canvas, and panel. My Moleskine is important to me because it is the catalyst that helped to transform my entire working process and how I think about the work that I do. I’m almost finished with it, and at this point I turn to it when I feel challenged and need a space to work things out. For some reason I feel less inhibited working out of my Moleskine than I would on canvas or panel. I guess I’ve come to view it as a more personal working space where not everything is going to be great, but that’s OK. I plan to keep collage books going forward, and maybe I’ll offer them for sale. This particular book is not for sale because it is far too important to me.
RJ: You posting your books on tumblr sparked this interview and post. We can thank blogging for us being art buddies. Has blogging changed the way you work? How does it fit into your creative lifestyle?
AS: Blogging and social media are fantastic tools for artists because it provides us with not just one place, but multiple places to share and sell our work. The old way of getting your work out into the world was cumbersome, expensive, and time consuming; you had to shoot slides and submit your work via the mail to galleries. Artists were literally beholden to curators and gallery directors. Another issue for me is time. I work full time, so my time spent making art is limited to evenings (if I’m not too tired), weekends, and any other time off that I get. Sharing my work online is easy to do, and it has allowed me to network with a bunch of great artists from all over the world. Posting my work online is definitely a part of my creative process and I love that you can pretty much get immediate feedback. A piece doesn’t feel finished somehow if I haven’t shared it. I constantly tell people that I don’t know that I would have had the opportunities that I’ve had as a part time artist had it not been for the Internet.
RJ: How do you stay inspired? Do you have favorite collage artists or any creative types that could spark some motivation in others?
AS: I am always looking at and reading about art. My two favorite big name collagists are Max Ernst and Ray Johnson. But I also have many favorites who I follow online. I love reading artists’ blogs about their process, thoughts, who inspires them, etc. And seeing what everyone else is up to keeps me inspired.
RJ: If you could give one piece of advice to keep others motivated what would it be?
AS: Always keep up with your art making. Many of us have to work full time and we have other responsibilities that can keep us busy (and tired.) Since graduating from art school I made it imperative that I set aside time to make art because I knew that I was going to have to work full time. Even if it’s just one hour here, or a half and hour there, it’s important to keep up with the practice. I think that if someone has the drive and desire to create, they will do it no matter what.