Untitled (magician and cape)


The collages of Tom Smith are optically stimulating and complex – viewers are often hypnotized by his mesmerizing work. So, we were eager to learn more about our featured artist’s creativity and the ways in which he developed his unique craft.

It turns out that Smith has art in his blood – his mother is an accomplished decorative artist and his father has a deep appreciation of the arts. So it was no wonder that he followed in the same footsteps. In fact, never once did he entertain the notion of doing anything in life that was non-creative.

Smith studied art in Baltimore, close to his hometown in Maryland, and majored in illustration due to his strong interest in narrative work and storytelling. He went on to graduate school to further pursue his metier. Half-way through his studies a light bulb went off in his head as he realized he had something definitive he wanted and needed to share with others.

The turning point

Fine artist and printmaker, Carroll Dunham, whom Smith assisted when he first moved to New York, was the most influential person in his early career. Carroll stripped down all of Tom’s work and forced him to focus strictly on drawing (he spent an entire year devoted to this particular craft).

As a result, Smith became more introspective and was able to move into the subconscious, channeling human interest into his pieces versus the other way around. After that significant one year period, he finally understood his creative sensibilities.

To date, all of Smith’s work is drawing based, whether he is painting, sculpting, photographing or making collages. He expects that his drawing will evolve to other forms of new media in the not too distant future.


Superhero meditation

Smith’s collages emerged directly from his massive collection of superheroes – comic books, figurines, etc. The idea was to meld character images and witness the optical illusions he was able to produce. In fact, he discovered that a character could be completely transformed through the introduction of another image.

His process is equally transformative. The meticulous skill involved, although highly technical, is extremely repetitive and, therefore, exceedingly meditative. At first he is in control, but soon control flies out the window as he begins to manipulate images. A discovery element is always present as he never is quite sure what will emerge.

Color theory and the work of Josef Albers also play a large part in Smith’s collage work. All the pieces are based on the intermeshing of colors and the appearance of images as a consequence of color selection and interaction.

Take Untitled (red, yellow, blue), one of the first pieces he designed. Smith decided to create a collage based on the primary colors of red, yellow and blue – the three opposite sides of the color spectrum. Poring through the hundreds of images in his possession, he had to uncover three images that not only bore the requisite colors but were also standing upright. Combining them, he was able to create a figurative piece with the characters in the middle, successfully intersecting Minimalist art with Contemporary art.


Untitled (red, yellow, blue)

Untitled (magenta) is equally illusionary. In this work, we witness a woman with minimal clothing represented in a very special way as her image is placed among a field of pinks and magentas.


Untitled (magenta)

In Untitled (bird and gun) we see two women, one holding a bird, the other, a gun, both with identical background colors. The resulting image is the appearance of two individuals in one space, despite the fragmentation. The piece has been pushed into a very simplistic direction, yet can be very disorienting to the viewer.


Untitled (gun and bird)

Smith’s collage work has been very influential to his other work. For example, collage, which is two-dimensional, naturally transcended into sculpture, which is three-dimensional. He tells us that he is getting ready to produce an entirely new body of work, utilizing figurative aspects, yet in the realm of the landscape.

Tom currently lives and works in New York City and has the unique opportunity to be working full-time in a studio assisting a number of established artists. He admits his good fortune and loves that he is always learning new techniques and staying “au courant,” not to mention extremely motivated. Plus, he gets to feed on the creative energy when he uses the studio for his own work at night and on weekends.


We invite you to peer into the hypnotic and magnetic work of a very talented artist.

To view the ArtistsinAuction website click here.

To view more of Tom Smith’s work, click here.


Untitled (double vision)