An Interview with Immy Smith by Teseleanu George

Full name:
Dr. Imogen Smith. But really… No-one ever calls me Imogen… even my boss calls me Immy

Date of birth:
27 May 1976

What is your current location:

Tell us a little about the art styles that you use:
I am not sure how to answer that. Honestly, I’m not. I am not very educated in art or how you define different styles of it. Maybe surreal and abstract are styles I aspire to but that covers a lot really doesn’t it?

What are your tools of trade:
A brain, some thoughts, some dreams, lots of pencils, paints, glue, scissors, magazine cuttings, a camera, a scanner, a computer… anything that doesn’t get away…

Why did you choose these art styles:
Because in my head they make sense. I am not good at articulating these kinds of things.

What is your favorite one and why:
I love to draw things that fall out of my mind. If surrealism is about liberating thoughts and associations from your head without worrying if the result is technically possible or accurate, then that is my favorite style.

What other art styles would you like to experiment with:
Realism. I would like to have the concentration and focus to draw or paint something real as it actually looks, but I don’t have that talent.

How can you define in your own word, surrealism:
I am not sure I would try. Maybe see the answer above… I guess to me at least it’s about letting your brain do the talking, but I don’t know, maybe a more art educated surrealist might disagree .

Who is your favorite artist and how do you connect with his/her works:
Too many. If I had to choose an artist from a gallery whose images moved my mind I would choose Yves Tanguay. If I can’t get lost in front of some of his paintings I don’t know where I can. They seem full of space but having lots of things in, but not crowded.

What influenced you to become an artist:
My father taught me to paint and draw when I was 4. After he was gone I carried on painting and drawing. And when I was at secondary school I was one of the weird kids. I used to stay in the art room at lunch time and became great friends with my art teacher, from who I learned next to nothing about the technicalities or academics of art, but everything about just *painting* and just *drawing*... that my technical skill is not as important as it making me happier.

How long have you been an artist:
Well… I don’t feel so much like an artist… my whole life maybe I don’t know! What do you mean by artist? I am a scientist for my job. If you mean how long have I been messing up the house with pencils and paints and stuff, since I was very young and my parents let me paint and draw with everything on everything. Although my mum says she did take exception to me mixing baby powder with petroleum jelly and painting the sofa. That would be art if you sold it right…

How did your family and friends react of you being an artist:
My father taught me and I think he would rather I was an artist than a scientist!! My mum and my sister try to nick all my paintings and drawings.

Where do you get your inspiration from:
My head, my lab, your brain, other peoples brains, brain cells under a microscope, creatures in the sea, sea slugs, plants in my garden, food, the weather… but I don’t have much time to paint and draw… so my head and my notebooks are always swimming with ideas that never make it to life.

What determined you to do collaborations:
You mean corpse-type collaboration? Because it was inspiring when I tried it so I had to carry on.

What can you tell us about your first collaboration:
My first collaborative corpse type collaboration was with Neil Dring. We were doing what was intended to be an open collaboration where two people each draw half of a face, inspired by the fact that I have chronic insomnia. I drew with 6 other people who, either temporarily or chronically, couldn’t sleep. Neil surprised me and sent me his half-face packaged up like a corpse so I couldn’t see most of it and completed it ‘blind’ so to speak. He started me off on this game… I’m so glad he did...

Can you tell us how collaborations influenced your art:
They challenge me to think more and less consciously about drawing… more because half the time you are following someone else’s flow, half the time you are trying to leave them a clue to follow yours… so it’s not like anything can flop out of your head onto paper and cover it all. Less because there is no point being too obsessive about a drawing when you don’t know what half of it is so you can just let your imagination out of its box. It’s like mildly organizing your chaos.

Can you tell us how collaborations influenced you:
They make me feel like a little piece of me can go anywhere in the world through a drawing. Which is liberating. And also makes me feel like a drawing can have a point. Even if the point is just that two people make something.

Do you promote/ sell/ showcase your artworks. If you do, how:
Sometimes I take commissions, mostly for painting glass. It’s my hobby though so not much, not often.

Where can people see your artworks:
My house. Feel free to stop by for tea. And some other people’s houses. Better ask them before going for tea though…

How the internet did influence your art:
It opened up a whole GIANT world of seeing other peoples work and collaborating and exchanging ideas and advice and realizing there are quite a lot of other scientists and engineers and whoever else making art. So I have met some amazing people and I feel very in awe of some other artists I meet online ^_^

How can people contact you:


View the work of Immy Smith in LITnIMAGE's Summer 2011 issue

Click here for Immy Smith's bio