In this artist interview, Valerie Aleta Smith shares with us her artistic process, ideas, and inspiration. To see more of Valerie’s work, please visit her online gallery.
Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I am a surrealist artist who delves into ‘found art’ and ‘repurposing art’. I am an illustrator-artist who creates themes from my dreams and past experiences to make something different. I love colors and how different colors effect a person’s mood. I live in Baltimore City, Maryland.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
When I was a child, I knew that I wanted to be an artist. As a young woman I began pursuing my dream, however, I had other responsibilities that made it difficult to become who I wanted to be. I had to wait for my season to realize my dream.
What training did you have?
I began training at Maryland Institute of Art. I studied architectural drafting, commercial blue line drawings for photography, and then went on to study fashion design and commercial art.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Being an introvert, I found my passion and voice in the early ’90s. That is when I realized my high point and that I have a gift for the visual arts.
What’s your favourite quote?
‘I am who I am, not who you want me to be, not who you think I am. For I am me.’ – Brigitte Nicole
Who is your favourite artist?
Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali and Kehinde Wiley.
What are you aiming for?
My aim is self-satisfaction and to share my work with people from around the world
How will you get there?
I have begun by showing at various galleries and social clubs; vending; and holding paint parties in and around Baltimore City. I also show my work via Facebook and Instagram.
Is anything holding you back?
I want to travel with my art and show at galleries outside of Baltimore. Lately, I am using the internet as my vehicle for travel.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I am a surrealist artist, and the reactions I get from people are different. Sometimes my messages are subtle and sometimes my messages are readily received. In any case, my work is generally received well with favorable responses.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
It depends on what I intend to paint and how involved I get. For a painting, it normally takes three to four weeks because I start with my layouts and constructing the stretchers and then stretch my canvas before painting. Most of the time is spent in drying. For my other art endeavors, usually a week.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
I like jazz, classical, R&B, or just complete silence
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
At the moment, I am working on dreaming and layouts…not a complete picture in my mind. I may change my mind and construct something totally different.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali. Their works are not realistic, and I derive deep feeling from seeing their works. Also, I am inspired by the new artists that very recently sprang up online.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
By learning more about my ancestry; I am inspired by the distinct artistry and techniques.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My favorite work is called Creation and Destruction. The reason is because of the feeling I get when I imagine other beings in our solar system controlling our earthly creation and destruction by simply blowing bubbles.
An artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Perseverance and never stop dreaming and creating your art.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Use the internet as much as possible to have people see your works.