Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Fl. I was approached by the Art Institute during my senior year to apply but at the time my Father wouldn’t allow it. So, I went to community college and floundered around until a severe accident almost cost me my life. I decided that I was going to go back to school but on my own terms. I relocated to Atlanta, GA and enrolled at Kennesaw State University where I received a BFA in Painting and Drawing.
During my time there I was torn between theatre and painting. I ended up going the route of visual arts. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I shopped around for different graduate programs. I settled on the Edinboro University of PA where I received an MFA in painting and a minor concentration in Printmaking. During my time I had the opportunity to study in Florence Italy. It was a life changing experience. After graduating I immediately started teaching College level courses at my alma mater, Kennesaw State.
During my tenure at KSU, I found that teaching really wasn’t something that I wanted to spend my life doing. I rekindled my love of the theatre while I was teaching and started pursuing acting as a profession. I enrolled in classes and booked numerous roles in local theatre but I knew in order to be a professional actor I needed professional training. I enrolled and was accepted at the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC. I packed my stuff and moved there.
While I was there I took up tattooing as a survival job. I figured it was a good way to put my visual art skills to work. Let’s face it, it’s tough to make a living as an artist but tattooing afforded me a comfortable lifestyle while still satisfying my creative needs. I met a wonderful woman in NYC we got married and pursued our longtime dream of living in California. We relocated with a cat, a dog and all our earthly belongings and here we are!
Please tell us about your art.
I’m a classically trained painter and a tattoo artist. My early work was all about Jungian Archetypes layered within patterns and space. Like the way thoughts might overlap.
Then there was a shift to more simpler imagery. Lately, the emphasis is on tattooing but the main subject matter in my paintings has been Bee’s. Bee’s are interesting little creatures and highly valuable to our way of life. Really though they came out of me subconsciously. My dad was a Navy SeaBee and I grew up with the image of their logo around the house. I think deep down I always wanted to replicate that image because I found the artwork fascinating as a child. Maybe it’s the colors or maybe its the anatomy of the insect, I’m not sure but I do fondly remember being enamored by it.
Somehow it came out in my work and then it became the subject of my work. What I want people to take from my work? I want my images to stick with them the way the logo of the Seabee did with me. I want them to ask why I decided to paint only a single subject on a solid background. Or why there are random objects hidden. Really I want people to look a little deeper than just the surface of an object. I want them to question the piece.
We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Just keep plugging along. Go to shows, talk to people. I know it’s difficult but it is a reality of being in business for yourself. Just asking people questions and being inquisitive about them will open them up to you. Get in a show yourself. That’s a good way to spotlight yourself and get people to come to talk to you.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
The best way is to look at it on my website or come into our tattoo shop Mr. Inkwells in Los Alamitos and get a custom piece. I would love to tattoo one of my designs on a client.
- Website: www.smoojee.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/esmoojee/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SmoojeeInk/