Meet Alim Smith, the Artist Leisurely the Afro-Surrealist Promo Art for FX’s Atlanta

Alim Smith enjoys living in and working from his native Delaware on story of, as he describes it, “it’s excellent a bunch of parks and no competitors.” The 31-365 days-veteran multidisciplinary artist and his exaggerated style of portraiture won repute on social media when about a principal names (Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Martin Lawrence) shared his work years previously; since that exposure, he has exhibited in reveals and continued to promote prints independently. But his spacious damage, arguably, came final summer season, when he became invited to audition to paint the promotional art for season three of FX’s Atlanta (which premiered March 24). It would possibly perchance furthermore furthermore be seen on billboards, bus stops, and plastered on partitions around Los Angeles and in cities in each set aside the country.

“I bask in this existing,” Smith says. “I’ve been watching what Donald Glover has been doing since I became in high college when he became on YouTube.”

Smith’s style is most neatly outlined as “Afro-Surrealist,” an experimental, whimsical, absurd put off on visible storytelling that reveals Dim faces reimagined in methods that seem past actuality however live fully human. Past painting the portraits of the present’s four core solid contributors, Smith also painted the Atlanta title in its traditional typeface and each rather about a ingredient seen on the posters (the Eiffel Tower, a mysterious barren region panorama). The tip consequence reveals all of these separate oil artwork superimposed on each rather about a, creating a inviting distillation of the present and its universe.

Smith spoke to The Hollywood Reporter by phone about how he embraced this probability, what his creative direction of looks to be bask in, and the inspirations on the inspire of his Afro-Surrealist style.

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Key Art for FX Atlanta by Artist Alim Smith.
Courtesy of Discipline/Hulu

How did it reach about that you just potentially can illustrate the Atlanta season 3 key art?

In August 2021, someone now not from FX however an particular particular person that became bask in the facilitator for all of their projects hit me up and asked me if I would want to work on Atlanta posters. It started off with an audition: I needed to draw these dusky and white photos. I potentially drew bask in 80 photos, rather about a iterations of how these faces would possibly perchance furthermore very successfully be distorted and contorted. Then I obtained past that section.

I needed to invent the same true section in each set aside but again, however now in color and together with rather about a dinky major choices, which became potentially bask in but one more 100 photos — and additionally they favorite these. Then they in the waste obtained new photos of the skill. So I needed to redo the general direction of in each set aside but again, and this time it became a lot extra strict with extra edits.

When I behold inspire by all of the electronic mail threads, it became over 300 photos excellent to procure to the point the set aside I would possibly perchance furthermore open painting the portraits. So for five months, I wasn’t engaged on any artwork. I became excellent doing digital renditions and sketches — some bodily sketches as successfully — for five months straight, excellent to procure to the point the set aside they will furthermore very successfully be bask in, “Ok, now you potentially can paint.”

How did you reach this assignment and what’s your creative direction of? What tools and software invent you utilize? 

I’m now not if truth be told a digital painter, I’m a lot extra of a fingers-on, oil painter. [Sometimes] a little bit of little bit of acrylic paint. I bask in to sculpt.

So the posters and billboards we leer are prints of your oil artwork?

Yeah, they are. The correct reason I became doing digital edits is on story of there’s no formula I would possibly perchance furthermore invent that many edits hand drawn. I would invent a sketch, and then I would digitize it so as that I would possibly perchance furthermore invent dinky edits in Photoshop and on my iPad.

When they agreed that these had been the factual photos and everything became lawful, then I became allowed to paint them. I would exclaim I needed to paint eight portraits all together. And I needed to paint it bask in I became doing it in Photoshop. So I needed to paint eight rather about a variations of the characters, excellent so that they will furthermore delight in choices: three rather about a variations of Van [Zazie Beetz], two rather about a variations of Paper Boi [Brian Tyree Henry], two rather about a variations of Darius [LaKeith Stanfield], and most attention-grabbing one amongst Rep [Donald Glover].

I needed to paint all of the particular particular person portraits. Then I needed to paint all of the rather about a dinky icons in the background which became potentially bask in 15 rather about a dinky artwork, then I needed to paint the genuine sky in the background — that became two rather about a artwork. And I needed to paint the flooring and a few shadows, which became about three to four rather about a artwork.

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Poetic Justice and Roll Safe
Courtesy of Alim Smith

Whenever you happen to had been creating the drafts for the FX and Atlanta teams, what became their feedback bask in?

They wanted me to tug inspire; I went so unfamiliar. I came up with some if truth be told unfamiliar work kinds. But they wanted me to dial it inspire so americans would possibly perchance furthermore composed roughly acknowledge who it became.

Why invent you assume that the issues in Atlanta mesh successfully along with your painting style? What’s Afro-Surrealist about Atlanta

What’s Afro-Surrealist to me about Atlanta is nice its existence…and the draw successfully it’s obtained. Admire, that’s surreal.

How invent you utilize out your colours? What invent of moods and feelings invent you are making an are attempting to painting? 

I feel I if truth be told grab them in accordance with how I would match garments. And in addition, once I became in art college, it became largely all dusky and white. And the color pencils and markers had been so pricey. So I would excellent use regardless of colours I had and draw them work excellent primarily based off of color price. I became the use of a grayscale however with colours; you potentially can use any color you wish as long as you would possibly perchance furthermore be following the color gradient scale of hues and tones.

Did you procure to meet with Donald Glover or any contributors of the solid at some point soon of this direction of?

I didn’t procure to meet them. But I invent know that about a the actors will potentially be getting the customary artwork. And I know that all of them needed to signal off on their likeness, so I couldn’t open painting except all of them acknowledged: “Tear, this looks to be bask in me sufficient.”

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Boastful and Crying Jordan
Courtesy of Alim Smith

Your work became shown at an Instagram pop-up existing this past February in Los Angeles called “Family Reunion,” paying tribute to Dim meme custom. What are some challenges that lengthen up when creating art from standard media, bask in memes and TV existing characters? 

I feel the perfect disaster is whenever you happen to’re creating photos of americans that contributors already know, and guaranteeing I don’t procure too unfamiliar. Making sure that although the leer is off center, and the mouth is inserting off of the facet of the face, you potentially can composed in overall affirm who the particular person is. That’s potentially the excellent disaster: excellent guaranteeing you put off the likeness sufficient.

How did it feel whenever you happen to in the waste saw the posters out on this planet?

It became surreal. I’ve been having a behold on the items for months, to be capable to leer them open air of my studio and out of doorways of the monitor is composed surreal if truth be told. When I behold on the dinky Hulu icon I’m bask in, “I became excellent watching the present a pair months previously. Now my art is the factor that directs you to the current!”

How invent you in the waste clarify Afro-Surrealism, and what are your influences?

The best model is nice: unfamiliar and Dim. For me, I delight in bask in it’s on the intersection of hip-hop and Dr. Seuss. I spotted my ardour in surrealism is on story of of Dr. Seuss; I feel a lot of Dr. Seuss’s drawings are impressed by Salvador Dali…and MC Escher. Seeing all of these unfamiliar, warped properties and studying these Dr. Seuss reports with loopy characters and nothing however rhyme…it’s bask in the intersection of hip-hop and Dr. Seuss.

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