We had the good fortune of connecting with Jawsh Smyth and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jawsh, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“Believe in Yourself.” I know, it’s an exceedingly common phrase that one hears often, but it still resonates with such a profound truth that I say it to myself at the beginning of every new art project or creative challenge. As an artist, the phrase reminds me to trust in my instincts and experience, in my abilities and imagination, in my taste and thoughtfulness, and in my perseverance to push through those feelings of self-doubt, cynicism or distraction that can plague any artist. I utilize this phrase to hone my concentration and to recommit to my goals and dedication to my craft and life’s work. I believe in myself as an artist. I need to. Because at the end of the day, nobody else will. Art is a discipline that is so often exploited, misunderstood or undervalued in daily American society. Then there is an economic and cultural divide between the art market and artists themselves. On top of that, in Los Angeles, you are surrounded by an ocean of talent and creative professionals, all striving to rise above. Believing in yourself as an artist is recognizing the inherent value of art and its transformative power to bring beauty to your life and the lives around you, regardless of market value or recognition. Being an artist is meaningful and valuable on its own terms. As a creative individual, believing in yourself means that you are your first and biggest advocate. You simply cannot rely on the validation of others to motivate you and get you to the next level. Belief starts with you. On the flip side, you cannot succumb to self-doubt and negative thoughts. Doubt is natural. Maybe you question your work as being too weird, too outside of the mainstream. Believing in yourself allows you to embrace the strange uniqueness inside of you. But doubting oneself too much, to the point that you’re emotionally paralyzed and not trying, means you are giving in to the fear of failure. I am definitely my harshest critic, I am always trying to out-do myself, and in this age of image saturation, I am always comparing myself to the art masters of today and yesterday. It’s always a struggle, but I’ve learned to suppress the doubt (mostly), so I can focus on the joy and process of creating and experimenting. This has always led to personal breakthroughs in my process. Believing in yourself is also recognizing that you are your biggest source for motivation and authentic ideas. It means trusting yourself and your life experiences to generate original ideas, and not relying on outside sources for inspiration. Your empowerment and self-actualization comes from within. You need to dig deep, find your center, and then unleash your light and potential to the best of your ability. And that begins with believing in yourself. To all my creative colleagues out there: You can do this, don’t give up. Believe in Yourself.

Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others…

To be honest, my art career is still forming. I’m motivated to cultivate a body of work that is deeply personal, but also captures universal truths, and when possible, addresses social ills and climate change. My journey is a tale of deferred dreams and late blooming, where at age 40, I finally had the confidence to think of myself as an artist. I started to really believe in myself and my potential after taking a year long sabbatical from a 20-year Design career, to recalibrate and reconnect with painting. And it’s probably one of those situations too, where the long road of accumulated life experiences (plus several art classes at night, over several years), was required to reach this realization. It definitely fostered the genesis of my recurring alter ego, Melting Man, which in turn opened up a floodgate of what feels like limitless ideas and possibilities that I’ll hopefully be pursuing for decades to come. So for those out there who always wanted to pursue their art or passion, but for some reason held back, for whatever reason, know now that it’s not too late. There’s no instant reset switch to life, and you can’t just abandon your day job. However, you can course-correct, re-focus, pick up where you left off, and start becoming your true self. You owe it to yourself.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of the amazing qualities of Los Angeles is the city’s vast diversity, and the myriad of neighborhoods and cultural destinations. Once the world is fully vaccinated from Covid-19, I would take a visiting friend to a few favorite spots, revolving around food and art of course!

Day One We’d start with a visit to Civil Coffee in Highland Park, where the Morales brothers are serving exceptional shots of espresso in a beautiful space. For lunch, we’d hop over to Los Feliz and stand in line to eat the well-worth-waiting-for tacos at Yuca’s, a small shack packed with history and flavor. Afterwards, we’d head a few blocks over to Soap Plant Wacko, and browse the eclectic bookstore and La Luz de Jesus Gallery inside. With some planning ahead, we’d have free tickets to the Broad Art Museum in downtown L.A., then marvel at the Frank Gehry designed Disney Symphony Hall next door, and rest with a drink and early dinner at Otium. Then, if not exhausted, check out MOCA across the street.

Day Two The next day we could take our time strolling Wilshire in Mid City, grab brunch or pastries at Republique (Charlie Chaplin’s old office), walk around the prehistoric La Brea Tar Pits, then check out the many exhibits at LACMA. There might even be live jazz or reggae spilling into the courtyard. For dinner, we’d dine at Soban in Koreatown for galbijim, a rich, savory stew of braised short ribs.

Day Three A trip to L.A. would be incomplete without visiting the beach, so we would get some sun, and cruise the Westside. Breakfast at Gjelina on Abbot Kinney. Coffee at Espresso Cielo or Demitasse in Santa Monica. Order the Mediterranean plate at Urth Caffe and take to Ocean Park Beach for lunch. Walk the boardwalk up to Shutters for a drink. Snack on Cuban jerk chicken at Cha Cha Chicken. Then drive east to Sawtelle Japantown in West L.A. to peruse art, books and toys at Giant Robot. Then dine at Hide Sushi. Just don’t forget to bring cash!

This is just scratching the surface. There are so many gems to experience across the city, too many to name: classical art and vistas at the Getty Museum and Getty Villa, black and white cookies at Beverlywood Bakery, Jitlada in Thai Town, Zankou Chicken in Little Armenia, Father’s Office in Culver City, all of downtown Pasadena, Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, Pann’s in Inglewood, the Central Market in DTLA, Little Tokyo, Hauser & Wirth Gallery, the Hammer Museum in Westwood, or watch a movie at the Fox Village Theater… the list could go on…

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a BIG shoutout to my friend, Ritzy Periwinkle. She is a beautiful soul with an indomitable spirit, who has always been supportive and encouraging as a fellow creative. She is multi-talented, focused, generous, and always down for a good cause. She is an inspiration as an artist, a mother, an activist, an entrepreneur, and as a human being… living and loving life on her own terms. Even beyond her many accomplishments, she is fearless and open to the universe. And unlike introverts such as myself, Ritzy is exuberant and outspoken, with an infectious sense of humor… and her quick wit (and catchphrases) can now be heard on her new podcast, “Word to Your Mama,” about “a Latina mama navigating business and life while building her tribe.” Please check her out! https://www.wordtoyourmama.com http://www.ritzyperiwinkle.com/links

Website: https://jawshsmyth.art

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jawshsmyth/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jawshsmythstudio

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