When I first noticed the work of Alim Smith, I immediately drowned in a wave of nostalgia due to his ode to 90’s Black culture, In Living Color: My Black History. The canvases donned colorful images of Black icons of our generation: from Tupac to Gina and Martin, my youth was immortalized through the strokes of his paintbrush. He describes his style as Afro-Surrealism and I couldn’t think of a better description of his work. The portraits he paints are gently distorted and disproportionate yet still evoke a sense of clarity and familiarity. I had the pleasure of interviewing Alim about his moniker Yesterday Nite, his inspiration, and his definition of creativity. Read what he had to say below and be sure to check out more of his work on Instagram, Facebook (he’s known for posting the most thought provoking statuses) and cop prints on his website, www.ydnite.com
Figuratively speaking, who is Alim Smith/Yesterday Nite?
Alim Smith: Alim Smith is a simple man who aspires to live off the grid near the mountains growing food with some beautiful black woman that believes in magic and levitation.
Yesterdaynite is a pro black visual philosopher, who wants to remind black people of their Greatness.
What is your favorite motivational quote? (could be rap lyrics, a Snapple fact, some shit you read on a fortune cookie etc.)
A.S.: My favourite quote is ” An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when everyday is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.” – Nina Simone. Hands down my favorite quote.
How do you define creativity?
A.S.: That’s a good ass question! How do I define creativity?
Creativity is figuring your way out of a room with no exits.
Who/what influences your artistry?
A.S.: In order of importance:
A.S.: Abstract/ Black/Honest ? I don’t know, that’s a tough one. How would you describe it?
What message do you want your art to convey?
A.S.: BLACK PEOPLE ARE FUCKING BRILLIANT. That’s it.
If you could create the album artwork for any artist dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A.S.: It would have to be Kendrick, Andre 3000, or Tribe Called Quest. Ah, you know what, Chance the Rapper also. Kendrick because he’s just a legend already TPAB and GKMC are classic ass albums, he’s my favourite rapper right now. 3000 because he’s just like the best rapper of all time excluding PAC. I say Tribe called quest because I just think my art would go well with their sound and Chance because I think my current style would go perfectly with his face.
A.S.: Don’t give up, Souljah Boy followed his dreams and succeeded