Brand Interview – Mark T. Smith, Fine Artist
How long has your company been in business? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
I have been working as an artist for the past 21 years. I started in the world of applied Arts – Illustration, Design, Animation and gradually moved into the world of Fine Arts. I started in the world of applied Arts because it was a more linear way to start out in the Arts, in terms of earning a living. The time spent working on commercial commissions helped me develop and become more confident in my own visual language. I enjoyed the pressure of a deadline and the direct interaction with clients. Over the past decade, I have been primarily working on artwork that is exhibited at galleries and art fairs. My work has matured and developed far beyond my initial ideas and I have had what I would consider a very successful career.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
I have to be very selective about the charities that I work with over the course of my career. I always want to be certain that the charity is well run and that the gift will be appreciated and respected by the organization. I also do a fair amount of research on the charity – I tend to work with charities that are run efficiently – ones where more money goes to the recipients of the charity than the organization itself. The last project that I did for a charity was a mural for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation. I created a very large mural at the Angela King gallery in NOLA.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc… How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
I do not have a logo. As a visual artist, my visual identity is in a constant state of flux. In a way, my logo identity is just my signature.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
I tend to work with people that I know well and who’s work I respect. For me, it was an easy decision to select an artist to design marketing materials for my career. In fact, the same artist, Jorden Haley, has done every version of my website from my first “real site” until today – we are working together again on an updated version right now.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
I started my career long before the Internet was even a word in common usage. Because of that fact, I tend to see all of the new media outlets in a holistic frame of reference. Things have shifted without question. A case in point is that more people see my artwork today than at any time in my career – just based on website hits alone – very few galleries have 10,000+ visitors per month. I find the new media absolutely indispensable – I really cannot imagine life without it. I use the social media to push my content out to the world and to interact in a variety of different circles of people. It has a demonstrable benefit – I have sold work from my site, other websites, even facebook. Starting out in the Arts, it was just me, a portfolio, and a ton of shoe leather. In some ways I miss that period of time, it was intriguing, meeting people face to face. I formed some wonderful working relationships and even some friendships that last until this day. (Case in point: the author/editor of this blog!)
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media? Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
I co-founded a design agency in the late 90’s that specialized in online games and applications during the dotcom boom –being able to start on the ground floor with electronic media has helped my understanding and directed my application of the various outlets. Keeping up with the fast pace of the growth is the tricky part.
Do you advertise locally in newspapers and/or nationally in magazines? Are they effective?
I do not do any advertising in print any longer, with the exception of extremely targeted publications.
Do you advertise online using Google, Facebook or on other company sites? Are they effective?
Yes and yes – see above.
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor? Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials?
I tend to leave these decisions to the designers. They have a level of expertise that far exceeds mine in these matters.
Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project?
Not purposefully. As I move further away from print as a medium to promote or even catalog my artwork I become greener by default.
If you sell products, are they produced in the USA or abroad?
Made in the USA. (Unless I am traveling)
Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
Tons and tons. When I left for New York City, I had spent 18 years thinking about what I wanted to achieve in my career in the Arts. I quickly added to that list as my exposure to the world grew and over time achieved my goals. (The typical 20-year overnight success story). After I had been in the Arts for 18 years, I realized that I had checked every box on my long list. I took a significant amount of time to reevaluate my direction and came back with a new list. I will keep working on that one until every box is checked again. Then repeat – or maybe I will just ride off into the sunset.
To learn more about Mark T. Smith and his fine artwork, visit the links below: