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Brooklyn Artist To Represent The U.S. In Beijing

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A local artist has been selected to the elite group of official artists of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Mark T. Smith's work will be seen this summer on t-shirts, posters, along with the United States Pavilion in China's Olympic Village. Smith has come a long way from his years as a student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

"I always wanted to be a fine artist and Pratt was the only school that could explain the entrepreneurial mechanism of making a living as an artist," he said. "So I selected the school because of that and selected illustration because of that."

Smith's first break out of school came when he was commissioned to do a poster for the Walt Disney Company. Then, his artwork graced book covers, magazines, and gallery walls. His style is vibrant color, strong shapes, and high energy. He says he draws much of his inspiration from his more than a dozen years of living in New York.

"In terms of what brought all those imageries together, it was the complexities of the city and living here. And all those different influences that bounce together," said Smith.

Smith's career really took off after landing a job for the Absolut Vodka campaign. He says it was his ties to Brooklyn, where he lived on Pratt's campus for four years, which helped him nab the gig.

"I faxed a resume in and it was actually because I went to Pratt. The guy who was looking for people was from Brooklyn originally," he said.

Smith's work on a PT Cruiser is part of Chrysler's permanent collection. Now he's ready for the global stage, after being one of 10 artists worldwide selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"It makes creating an image very challenging because you have to think about what transcends all of those different languages and visual nuances that each culture has and how do you relate to people you have no cultural context with," he explained.

Some of the proceeds from Smith's artwork will help fund the U.S. Olympic team. What's next for Smith? He's working on a book showcasing his artwork, a move into three-dimensional sculpture art, and packing his bags for his first ever trip to China.

- Jeanine Ramirez
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