We had the good fortune of connecting with Bree Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bree, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
Should I continue graduate school, or quit? When I’m evaluating whether to keep going or give up something (which I absolutely hate to do), the first exercise I do is I try to predict my future given one choice or the other. If I continue this thing I’m considering giving up, what does that mean for a year from now? Am I still miserable, or have I overcome this temporary discomfort that’s wanting me to push the eject button? If I give up this thing, will I be more miserable a year from now than if I hadn’t? Trying to imagine what the future would look like given either path can be very clarifying. If that doesn’t bring you enough clarity or the particular situation is difficult to predict the future, I realign with my ultimate goals. If my goal in life is to be an internationally museum exhibiting artist, then the question becomes, “is the amount of time I’m spending on this other activity that won’t get me closer to my goal worth continuing?” For me, this self-assessment question has been the most reliable test in deciding whether to quit something or not. However, not all things we spend time on need to align with our goals. It might be something you truly enjoy, or that brings you closer to someone you hope to have a stronger relationship with. If those things are priorities in your life, then it’s worth continuing. In the example I opened with, I was deciding at one point if I should continue on with a graduate program. It didn’t align with my goals, and it took valuable time away from my family, so the decision became clear to me that it wasn’t worth the financial investment to continue. Even though I hated the thought of quitting, the decision aligned with my goals and priorities. Next time you’re faced with this tough decision, try this framework: imagine the future of each choice, assess if that future aligns with your most important goals, OR if it supports a high priority in your life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work primarily focuses on bringing together elements from the past, present, and future in scenes set on other planets, with the central figures being female astronauts. I love to highlight the strengths of women in my work, and depict them in brightly colored space suits often set among colorful abstracted backgrounds. I also create mixed media abstract pieces that use collaged planets coupled with dynamic textures and shapes. The layers in these pieces evoke thoughts of other times and dimensions yet to be explored. I like to use bright, candy-colored palettes to convey playfulness and youthful excitement in my work. The accomplishment I’m most proud of is participating in an interactive art installation exhibit in October 2019. I had three weeks to conceptualize and create an interactive exhibit, something I hadn’t ever done before. Despite the tight deadline, I was able to complete the installation on time. Being able to watch people’s faces light up with excitement when they saw my work and pose for photos with my art brought a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction I hadn’t experienced up until then. I’ve been working as an artist consistently for about four years. When I look back on what I’ve accomplished during this time, it seems like 1o years! It’s not easy to be consistent, but that has been the key to every one of my accomplishments. Consistency with creating new work, and consistency for putting my work out into the world (via social media, my website, and sending my work in to publications and exhibitions) has moved my career forward more effectively than anything else. There’s no shortcut to long term success. Despite inevitable rejections and setbacks, I just keep going. One of the biggest challenges I faced early on was overcoming my fear. I was sometimes afraid to even start a piece of art because I couldn’t handle the idea of it being “bad.” I was able to overcome this fear by changing my perspective when making art to approaching it as an experiment, and an opportunity to learn. Once I took the pressure off of myself to create a “masterpiece” I was able to start making work uninhibitedly and discovered new techniques and methods I loved! I was also afraid of sharing and showing my work in public. Unfortunately, the only way to overcome this is to just do it. Sometimes when I’m feeling scared to submit or share my work I ask myself, “what’s the worst that could happen?” and the answer is almost always “nothing bad is going to happen if I do this, but something really amazing could happen if I do.” Once I rationalize that there’s nothing to be afraid of, I go ahead and hit that “submit” button! One of my favorite analogies is that sharing our work on social media is like being able to step up to the (baseball) plate and swing as many times as we want. It doesn’t cost anything to share our work with the world on the internet, so why wouldn’t we take as many swings as we can knowing that eventually one of those “swings” could lead to our next big breakthrough? That mindset gets me into a mindset of excitement instead of fear.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a major homebody so I explore often, but I do love eating delicious food, and luckily there are tons of amazing places to eat in Dallas. I also love coffee shops and try new ones often. Favorite breakfast or brunch spots: Detour Doughnuts, Haywire, and Cafe Brazil Favorite coffee shops: Ascension, Liberation Coffee, Re:defined, La La Land Kind Cafe Lunch: Ida Claire, Burning Rice, LA Burger, Sandwich Hag, Uncle Uber’s Afternoon hangouts: Klyde Warren Park, Dallas Museum of Art, the Arboretum, Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, Psychedelic Robot immersive art exhibit Neighborhoods to visit: Deep Ellum, The Cedars, Bishop Arts, Oak Cliff For relaxing: The Spa at the Joule, Well & Being Spa at Four Seasons Las Colinas, Sky Nails & Spa, King Spa & Sauna Dinner: Zoli’s NY Pizza, Niwa Japanese Barbecue, Pecan Lodge, Bob’s Steak & Chophouse, Uchi, Densetsu
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many people, books, and organizations that have supported and inspired me over the years. One of the standouts though is Andy J. Miller (who also goes by Andy J. Pizza) is the host of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast. I started listening to his podcast almost three years ago, and his advice on how to approach your creative practice, build an audience, and a creative career have been instrumental in making progress in my own journey as an artist. His unique analogies and illustrations make his advice memorable and easy to implement. He breaks down difficult concepts into tactical actions to move things forward, even when you’re feeling stuck. In addition to that, he’s incredibly inspiring and insightful. I’ve learned so much about who I am as a creative person through his own personal reflections.
Facebook: Bree Smith Art
Ashley Trail / Written Shutter