"Alim Smith is a Delaware born interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in American art galleries primarily on the east coast. His artistic process expands beyond a singular medium due to several years of applied studies in Visual Art, Communicative Arts as well as Photography. Smith’s creative exploration stems from experiences and events within his culture, applying a variety of ideas based on his knowledge of self and understanding of others."
Smith’s initial introduction into the art world began with a fleeting love interest at an early age. Toward the end of elementary school, a girl with whom he was infatuated was accepted into Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, compelling Smith to compose his own portfolio—comprised of pieces that ranged from a self-portrait to a painting of Garfield.
Smith entered middle school at Cab Calloway, where he developed a passion for art and discovered a sense of focus that pushed him to constantly create without distraction.
Smith sold his first piece in middle school—a portrait for his mom’s friend—
and began painting portraits of cultural icons, a source of inspiration on which he would later expand. He met fellow artists Mike Silva and Terrance Vann, with whom he formed the art collective Paper Cut Kids.
It was also during this time that Smith came across what remains one of his primary sources of inspiration today: the works of renowned Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. In class one day, Smith found a teacher’s book of Escher’s work and was so enthralled by its contents that he stole it.
By the time he graduated high school in 2008, Smith had been diagnosed with epilepsy and his mother had lost her job, prompting him to opt out of further pursuing art school. But he continued to create, right from his living room.
The following January, Smith and Silva drew a portrait of Barack Obama and went door to door around their neighborhood selling copies. Noting the positive response, they traveled to Washington, D.C. and sold the portrait to attendants at the inaugural address.
Smith says he is devoted to creating art that is heavily inspired by entertainment (primarily music and comedy), women and black culture.
Smith says the presence of black culture in his work serves as a form of self-expression and education.
Smith describes the spelling error in “Yesterday Nite” as the overarching motive behind his work, explaining that its unsettling nature is meant to be evocative.
“It’s wrong, but it feels good,” he says.
It is the rhythm and life of his subjects, the dark humor embedded within each brushstroke, the rich cultural inspiration and the bold, often sensual nature of his work that distinguish Yesterday Nite.
“I want you to get what I’m trying to say when I say it,” he says.
When did you start creating art?
I was always creating or scribbling something but the first time I really remember enjoying art was in kindergarten. We had to color in a fire. My brother and mom saw that I was just using red and they told me to use orange,yellow and blue because fire isn’t just one color. I remember really enjoying that.
What’s your process like?
My process is different depending on what I’m creating. But I usually start off by turning on a long ass podcast or an album I don’t mind not listening to all the way through. Then I just get to work. I just need some kind of continuous sound in the background. I can’t create in silence.
Did you go to art school or were you self taught?
I went to an art school for high school and middle school. But I still feel self taught because they didn’t teach us how to draw. They just told us what to draw so the people who couldn’t draw still aren’t that good. And the ones that could are just a little better.
Do you have any advice for artists and creators?
My only advice would be don’t stop creating and dont worry to much about people’s opinions of your work.