Johnny Smith

Oct 10th, 2017

Johnny Smith

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Johnny Smith (born Jonathan Smith) hails from Houston, Texas, where he attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, studying theater. He graduated from the Univ. of Texas at Austin with a degree in film before landing in Los Angeles. Since being in LA, he has acted in over 36 commercials, written, acted in and directed numerous short films and was featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno when his YouTube series “Scaring Evelyn” went viral.  He is an avid fan of comedy and tries to share that through his collage work.  He enjoys image manipulation while listening to old episodes of Howard Stern or half watching Dateline NBC or The Bachelor/ette.

How does social media affect you and your art?

Social media is an amazing tool for my art and art in general. Because of Instagram, I have been able to share my collage work and silly videos with thousands of people, from all around the world, who I would never ever meet in my life (and probably never will).  A guy from Hungary contacted me about enjoying my art and asked to collaborate, which is amazing! I wouldn’t be answering these questions here if it wasn’t for social media because you would have no idea who I was.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on having a gallery show of printed works this year, as well as writing a screenplay and filming a short I wrote last year. 2017, let’s make shit happen!

Why did you start making this work?

I started making photo collages because I got tired of writing screenplays/plays and not being able to share it, not seeing the end result on the screen or in a theater space. Photo collages and image manipulation was a fun new way to express myself and I got to share the end result on social media right away, on my own terms. Instant gratification!

Do your parents like your work?

My dad will tell me that he is very proud of my work and that he shows it to his friends and co-workers. And then a week later, he will see a more provocative collage and write me that he is very disappointed in me and that I can do better than that. I vacillate between pretty and pretty perverted.

How do you determine if a work has been a success?

By the amount of likes I get on Instagram. (Kidding!) I think my most successful works are the most divisive ones; the ones  where I have people cheering me on and sharing it on their platforms as well as people spewing their vitriol and announcing they are unfollowing me. That to me is a successful work! A strong love and a strong hate. If a person smiles, laughs or rolls their eyes while looking at something I have made, that’s a success.

What other forms of art inform your work?

Films and plays definitely motivate me and push my work. Stand up comedy is 100% an influencer. I love to tell a story or make someone laugh in a single image.

What was the worst reaction you have had to your work?

I am lucky that most people have responded to my work positively (or the people that comment on it).  The worst was when someone called me “sexist” and “homophobic” because of an image I had made. That hurt my feelings, but only for a couple of minutes. I’ve learned and adapted to not “getting into my feelings” about every negative or mean reaction I receive.