Byron Smith (b. 1963), originally from North Carolina, and now residing in Brooklyn, has worked with a number of subjects. Early drawings included objects from his surrounding environment, especially shoes and flowers, which quickly gave way to an interest in gorillas and robots, before moving to his current fixation on fashion forward women. Smith is highly selective in regards to the images he works from. Often, the women he chooses to depict are unabashedly happy, smiling and looking directly at the viewer. He also gravitates towards images of female kinship and friendly affection; Thelma and Louise, Edina and Patsy from the TV series Absolutely Fabulous, pairs of synchronized swimmers, and groups of women dressed in beach attire have all been depicted tenderly and with a deep display of platonic intimacy.
The women are depicted elegantly. Fingernails and eyelashes are exaggerated. Lips are painted a vibrant red. Their silhouettes are drawn, erased, and redrawn with long, deliberate strokes. They are poised, graceful figures, instantly recognizable despite an economic use of line and shape.
A thread of sincerity runs through all of Smith’s work, a kind impulse that seems to drive his work, aid in the choice of his subjects, and inform the way that he reinterprets their image. In our first artist designed t-shirt of 2018, Byron has lovingly drawn Solange Knowles in his signature style.