INTERVIEW: Travess Smalley

Travess Smalley is a multi-disciplined artist living and working out of Brooklyn, NY. He’s gained notoriety around the interweb/world of art for his colorful digital prints, in an online presentation called Poster Company, zines, and uniquely presented sculptures. His work seems to stem from a sort direct connection to dated processes and automated techniques collaged together and presented in a way that blurs origin and context, making his work appear like lost artifacts in the internet undergrounds. Travess and I have crossed paths on various occasions around the neighborhood, and have now finally had the opportunity to take a moment, and get a little insight to his color driven creations. Read the interview below.

photos and interview by
Mauricio Vargas

Travess Smalley Studio 2011

Sup Travess how goes it? Lets start with you telling us a little about yourself. Where you from?
West Virginia. That is where the majority of my family lives. I grew up in tidewater Virginia though.

What you looking forward to this year?
Traveling to Italy to be part of Metascreen at Gloria Maria Gallery, and finishing some of the books that I have been working on.

When did you first know you wanted to pursue the arts?
When I realized that I could design and draw better video games on a sheet of paper than I could actually play.

Color seems to play a big part in your work regardless of medium, how do you go about your palette choices?
Lime Green/Slime Green. Cerulean City Blue. Topaz. Chartreuse. Gradient Greys. RGB Displays.

I noticed you have a lot of interesting retro patterns and colors in your wardrobe as well. Would you say the Cosby show, ala Coogi sweater has played a role in your works? Or is it just the 80s / early 90s in general?
It’s hard to say. I feel like i’m perpetually trying to dress like my 6 year old self.

If you were a character on an early 90’s sitcom, who would you be?
My 6 year old self would say a Ninja Turtle.


Travess Smalley Studio 2011 1

There are a lot of artists that use the internet both as a tool and a stage for their work,how would you say the internet has played a part in your art?
It is a powerful resource for experimentation and art.

What was your first really significant experience with the internet as a youngster? How old were you when you realized it was going to take over the world?
With AOL Games. There were lots of text based adventure games that I would download off Aol servers.

When did you start Poster Company?
Summer of 2008. Max and I would email images back and forth. We realized we needed a forum to document our conversation.

Who influenced you as an artist when you were first finding your artistic stride?
I had this book of Robert Rauschenberg’s Posters that was very formative. The way he drew, collaged, and composed in the 60’s and 70’s had a large influence on my work. I still find myself making drawings, images, and designs that are a result from spending so much time in that book.

Who out of your peers would you say you are enjoying right now?
I really like Leon Sadler’s drawings. He is part of the amazing group Famicon.

Ok Random round…
Favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor?
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Cookie Dough.

Van Dam or Stalone?

Potato salad or Deviled Eggs?
I hate both.

Dirty Diana or Man in the Mirror?
I don’t understand.

Favorite book?
Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

Favorite word to say?

Now or never?

Uhh… ok thanks buddy!

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