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ginny branch stellingwhat's in your toolbox

What’s In Your Toolbox: Cedric Smith

by Ginny


As soon as I am in the position to invest in artwork, I will immediately become one of Cedric Smith’s greatest patrons. I have been a fan of his ever since I saw one of his mixed-media paintings hanging in my ultimate happy place, Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah. Cedric is known for marrying bold, bright colors with vintage photographs of African-Americans. He layers paint, photos, paper and fabric with the same finesse with which he layers different messages to the viewer. Behind every seemingly nostalgic and whimsical portrait, Cedric subliminally acknowledges the absence of the African-American presence in advertising. In addition to the powerful messages and ideas that it inspires, his work is just plain beautiful. He clearly has a sentimental heart, a trait that magnetizes me to his work. I am so pleased to introduce y’all to this amazing artist, Cedric Smith. Ginny



1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox? This can be anything from your favorite types of paint brushes, paint, glue, etc. Anything you love to use when making your art!

Cedric Smith: I use acrylic paint (Utrecht and Liquitex), all types of paintbrushes, blue painter’s tape, my cameras (Mamiya 645 pro, Nikon D300) and the painter’s knife with an accumulation of paint, which I use to distress the look of my paintings.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ______.”

CLICK HERE for the rest of Cedric’s interview after the jump!

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Cedric Smith: I draw a lot of inspiration from blogs such as 100 Layer Cake, Bedlam of Beefy, Design*Sponge (aw shucks!), Once Wed, The BK Circus, Martha Stewart and Sweet Paul. For magazines, I turn to Donna Hay, Detail, Metropolitan Homes, PDN, Bon Appetit, Zinc and Country Living.

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book and do you make to-do lists?

Cedric Smith: I don’t have an agenda book and I don’t make to-do lists.

5. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist?

Cedric Smith: The best advice I’ve received was to always paint or shoot photography. I always learn something new to apply to a paid photography job or painting for a show.

The advice I would give young artists is to stop just thinking like an artist; you need to also look at yourself as a business. I hear a lot of artists saying they don’t do it for the money, but struggle with their bills and work for a job they don’t like, and only paint on the side. I’m not saying it’s easy, but if you apply some business to your craft, you could be doing what you love full-time.

6. Design*Sponge: If you could look in the studio of any artist, dead or alive, whose would it be?

Cedric Smith: I would love to look in Walton Ford or Odd Nerdrum’s studio.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Cedric Smith: I combat blocks by listening to music or watching a movie.

8. Design*Sponge: What is the best part of what you do, and what is the hardest part?

Cedric Smith: The best part is getting to meet people from all over. My paintings and photography have allowed me to travel abroad to places I never thought I would visit. The hardest part of what I do is not being able to get a paycheck consistently.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?

Cedric Smith: If I could have any superhero power it would be the ability to read people’s minds.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include? It can be your favorite classical songs or blues or hip-hop or NPR or whatever is on heavy rotation for you. Anything and everything!

Cedric Smith: B.B. King, Public Enemy, James Brown, Elton John, Nina Simone, Koko Taylor, Luciano Pavarotti, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Jay Z.

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