Interview with WRDSMITH

I had the chance to talk with WRDSMITH, an LA based street artist, about his work via email. He was in Chicago last summer and put up pieces throughout the city. Much of his work involves a stenciled typewriter with words coming out of it.

ES: How would you describe the work you do?

W: I aspire to inspire others with positive and romantic WRDs painted and pasted on walls all over the world.

ES: I read about how you decided to leave Chicago to go to LA to write. How did you get started as a street artist?

W: In 2013 I was spending an abundance of time sitting in front of the computer writing. While I love to write, I realized I needed an active hobby that would take me away from the computer for stretches of time. However, I knew I’d ultimately come to resent most hobbies if they ended up distracting me from writing too much. So it was conundrum before I got the crazy notion to do word-based street art — an action that would still have me flexing the creative writing muscle, but also making me active.

ES: How did you decide on the idea of the typewriter?

W: When I decided to explore word-based street art, I immediately saw the image of of a typewriter with the page/words coming out of it. To me, it was such a simple idea that I had to research if anyone had done it before. When I discovered that no one had done it, I knew I had to run with the idea and make it a reality as soon as possible. And I did just that.


Photo from the artist

ES: You mention that you get your inspiration from overheard conversations. What was the best thing you’ve overheard that worked its way into a piece of yours?

W: Not overheard conversations — just conversation I have with others. All the words in my work resonate with me or with something in my life. They are all personal in that way and I like that. It fuels the passion for WRDSMTHing. The fact that these WRDs are resonating with so many people thrills me because I am simply expressing myself and exploring things in my own life/world with my art.


Photo by Elisa Shoenberger

ES: You talk about the location sometimes inspiring the piece. Could you give an example of that?

W: Sometime I’m walking or driving and I see a great wall or how a wall looks at a certain time of the day, which makes me think of some creative words that pay off that scene/location/moment. Then I work to polish those words and install them. One example is when I saw a plastic surgery company on a busy street and how the sunrise reflected in the mirrored windows. I wrote: “I really, really, really like you just the way you are” and installed it the following morning. Also [I] took the pic just as the sun was rising.  

ES: What do you want people to know about your work?

W: I want them to know I am a writer first and foremost. And 98% of the words you see in my work are written by me. Occasionally I will utilize a lyric or quote to tip my hat at words that inspire me, but I always give credit where credit is due.


Photo from artist

ES: What is your favorite piece or place you’ve put up a piece?

W: I love putting art up in NYC, Paris, and London. But I also love filling Los Angeles with WRDs. Favorite piece [is] probably a tie between “Aspire to inspire others and the universe will take note” and “I love the way you blush when I tell you how you shine.”


Photo by Elisa Shoenberger

ES: What do you want people to know that I haven’t covered in the other questions?​

W: I want them to know I am having fun and am just getting started.

Thanks to WRDSMITH for taking the time to talk to me about his work!


Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of going to see “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938” at the NY’s Museum of Modern Art. It was a pleasure. There were many familiar “faces” and many new ones. Many paintings are from private collections and small European museums that I’ve never heard of. The exhibition is coming to Chicago in June 2014 so it’s worth checking out.

In the exhibition, the most interesting painting, “The Phantom Landscape” (1928) was a portrait of a woman with the word “Montagne” or “Mountain” written across her face. As I mentioned previously, Magritte is playing with the relationship between words, pictures, and reality. He questions whether the words we use to describe things are the best to do so. Maybe mountain is a better word for woman than woman? Or perhaps, he is referring to the contours of a woman’s face. The nose could be a mountain from the point of view of the eyelash or pore.

In one wall description, it talks about how Magritte was also playing with the notion of recognition and words. This was most evident in a painting, “The Palace with Curtains III” (1929) with two irregular frames. One had blue and white in it while the other had just the word “ciel” or “sky.” Because of this word, you can identify the white and blue painting as a depiction of sky. He has several paintings where he misnames items (ie. the Mountain and Lady). But the concept is reinforced by the exhibition itself.. After all, I am reading his titles and curator descriptions to understand what he was going for.

Another painting, “The Empty Mask” (1928) that I adored was a painting of what appeared to be the back of a painting with four words sectioned off: Sky, curtain, human body or forest, and facade of a home. This assemblage reminds me of traditional scenes in 17th-18th centuries: a scene of the garden/forest and home together. In Magritte’s painting, he’s asking you to assemble the image in your mind; instead of relying  on the artist to do it for you.

In addition to these paintings, there are many others that touch on various themes that Magritte worked on through 1926-1938. I highly recommend the exhibition when it comes here to Chicago. That’s all for now.