Name: Adam ‘Codak’ Smith
City of origin: I was born in Stillwater Oklahoma, August 1, 1974 but my family moved to Portland Oregon when I was two years old and I lived there from the time I was two until I was seventeen.
How did you find yourself in the arts? I come from an arts background. My mom has been teaching art, primarily interior design, since I was a very small child. There are actually pictures somewhere of me when I was two or three months old, in a crib next to her desk while she was teaching art classes. Growing up, my stepfather was an Architect, so I grew up in a “Modern Contemporary” sort of environment of architecture and art. When I was younger I was really into comic books. I basically started drawing, trying to emulate my favorite superheroes. I really liked Wolverine and Punisher and stuff like that. Around sixth or seventh grade I started to sell my drawings of comic characters to classmates at lunch for like 10 cents. It was pretty funny. When I was about thirteen I got my first skateboard. At the same time, I was being introduced to bands like Public Enemy, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, NWA, old reggae like Bob Marley and Lee Scratch Perry. I was introduced to a wide range of music from the different friends that I had. We would skate all over Portland and cause trouble but I will never forget the first time I saw someone do a tag; it was my freshman year of high school and this kid wrote Celic. One day we were all in a little group and he just whips out a two-finger marker and does this tag. We all asked, what did you just do? That’s awesome!
Where do you draw your inspiration? I have always really liked the simplicity of line. I think it comes from my family. There were always blue prints, schematics and plans lying around. Just seeing my step dad out on his worktable, using his compass and drafting all these lines. In a way, it’s scientific and artistic because it’s engineering and everything all put together. Even though I don’t think mathematically, I always liked the aesthetic. When I started to experiment with what I was doing I noticed that the organic shapes that I was making were made stronger by the strength of the line quality that I based around the shapes. Studying design taught me how to break out compositionally in space. Design helped me to break out in relation to the work I was creating on walls and canvases. When I moved to LA, I saw Kofie’s work and thought, this guy is thinking very similarly. It was as if I needed to see someone else thinking that way to really help spur me into experimenting with it even more. One of my favorite artists of all time is an artist named Joker. He was really at the forefront of taking design aesthetic and applying it to murals, by using architectural line structure and how he broke things apart. There was another guy She-1, who was similar. It was very atmospheric. They took out the rigid structure of letter-based graffiti and let it run free.
Describe yourself in 5 words: Neurotic, OCD, problematic, opinionated (but open minded), searching
What was the most memorable response to your work? I don’t know. That’s a good one. I get a lot of interesting responses. One of the things about how I like to work is the open-ended nature of what I’m doing, and people always see different things. Half of the time, I will do something, and I don’t see anything. All I see is the form and composition that was aesthetically pleasing, without any intention of being thematic. People will say, oh I see a dolphin, or wow that looks like some crazy alien fish thing. I want my work to be open ended enough for people to formulate their own opinion about what I’m doing. I’m interested in their opinions because they help me think about what I’m trying to do in a different way. I really hold that part of my work close to my heart. I don’t prescribe to the notion that artists have to be telling you something because I really think the act of creation is in itself a communication.
When you aren’t creating works of art, what can you be found doing? Haha, its really funny for me to be saying this, me being an artist and what not but I go to the gym a lot. I wouldn’t call myself a gym rat but I go to the gym a lot now. I still skatebaord and continue to be influenced by the culture. I just enjoy it, but art pretty much permeates through everything that I do.
What are your current/future projects? I have a couple of things that are coming up. I’m doing a quick little mural in my friend’s pastry shop during the art walk that’s opening up. Tomorrow, April 1, 2012 I will participating in the Red Bull Curates project (
Who is your favorite muralist and why? That’s a loaded question. To preface, I’m more inspired by the people that I personally know, because I know what goes into their work. On a grander scale, my favorite right now is my buddy Shok-1 from England. The concepts behind what the guy does are so simple but so dense, and well thought out. His technique of how he places his work in the environment that its in is completely impeccable. its really awesome. I have had the pleasure of knowing him for about ten years and I spent some time in England with him years ago. I have watched him progress. He was really good back then and now there’s just so much that goes into what he does.
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