SEX AND LAUGHTER
An interview with Johnny Smith
Johnny Smith attended Film school at the University of Texas and has since moved to LA. A script writer, actor, and producer, Smith turned to digital Collage out of frustration for a creative outlet which was more immediate. The artist's work discusses themes of sex, comedy, and politics.
"Tell us about you."
I majored in film and television in college, with a minor in theater, so the idea of storytelling and performing, in a any capacity, was always a desire of mine. I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 but spent most of my 20s dicking around and not pushing myself to do anything beyond drinking and hanging out. That got boring quickly, so in my free time, I started taking photo booth photos at the Rite Aid down the street. I made different facial expressions as the photo booth snapped photos of me. I would then go home, cut out my faces and paste them on different illustrations I drew, such as a Mama bird feeding her baby birds, a pigeon pooping in front of another disgusted pigeon and so forth. That is where my collage making started before I made the transition to digital. For me, this was a hobby that was an escape from the monotony that had been my life. It also made my friends laugh, so that inspired me further. Sometimes they would join me and we would take photo booth photos together. I then would cut and paste our faces on different animals in different scenarios and gift them the final product. It was a lot of fun!
"I would say if I had to choose which I prefer between laughter or orgasms, I would choose laughter."
"Your work often references sex and sexuality, can you tell me more about your thoughts on this theme?"
In America, sex is taboo and is “dangerous” and I don’t think it has to be. Sex is fun, it’s physically healthy and it feels amazing. Plus, it is how all of us are here today. Sex is the best!
With my art, I was being provocative and it started out as a test to see what I could post and get away with on Instagram. It then ended up becoming a recurring theme. I like sex, I like when people have sex, I love people being comfortable with their bodies and I love celebrating that in my art. And I think about sex all the time because I can’t wait until the next time I get to have it! I am a guy who is very driven by the promise of sex.
"What role does humour play in your work? "
I would say if I had to choose which I prefer between laughter or orgasms, I would choose laughter. I love laughing. I love being around people who make me laugh. I love making people laugh. I deal with bouts of depression and anxiety and I find that I can contain it when I am laughing. It’s a release from thinking about the heaviness of the world and of life. I fear death and think about death almost as much as I think about sex. But man, it’s so much more fun to think about sex and things that make me laugh. I try to lean towards the lighter side of things and I like being able to offer that through my art. Life is short, so let’s try to enjoy it.
"I definitely feel restricted by Instagram’s rules but that also inspires me."
"Instagram is a very important platform in your work, how do you balance censorship in your work on this platform? Do you feel restricted by Instagram's rules?"
I definitely feel restricted by Instagram’s rules but that also inspires me. I have had a lot of my art removed by Instagram, along with the threat of my account being deleted. That would be a bummer, especially since it is my only outlet I use to share my work globally. I have met a lot of people through the app, a lot of other amazing artists, performers, friends.
I think Instagram is amazing! I do hate how much they censor us, though. I would be devastated if my account was deleted, fucking devastated. If my account gets removed, I have to find solace with the fact that I was able to share my work on there with other people around the world in the first place.
"You are using lots of digital manipulation in your work, what draws you to this medium?"
Truth be told, I use digital manipulation because it is easier and less time consuming. This way I can do other things as well and create as much content as I like in a given window of time. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy. I may have to look into that haha.
"Finally, What is the future of art?"
I have no idea. That is my honest answer. I can barely answer what my future as myself will be tomorrow. I am really working on being present and in the moment. That’s hard enough! I hope that in the future, there is more art, more artists and more access to it.