Codak Smith, is a multi-disciplinary artist working in Contemporary painting, street art, murals, design, tattoos and installation art. His tattoos focus on blackwork, abstract, & contemporary line work.
From a family background in architecture and interior design, and a childhood full of comic books, skateboarding, and bus rides through his local Portland, OR, Codak developed an early fascination with line. While line is most often considered a formal and foundational element understood objectively, Codak saw the inherent ambiguity and mystery in the infinite possibility of any given line, and how it moves, shapes, renders, and subsequently emotes. Coupled with time flipping through the pages of the influential book, Spraycan Art (1987) and its relationship to skateboarding, Codak was intuitively drawn to graffiti in 1988 ––its immediacy, direct interaction with the urban landscape, and graphic sensibility.
Evolving among a group of graffiti artists from Los Angeles and Portland, Codak developed the basis of his visual vocabulary and aesthetic that is the foundation of his work today. The graphic nature of his letter-based graffiti led him to pursue a degree in graphic design, where he expanded his understanding of the principles of form, composition, and color theory. This led the artist to push and pull the letter forms he’d been working with for years beyond their borders of legibility and towards abstraction. Codak started painting, incorporating found elements from the ephemera of the urban landscape with his expanded design sensibility and a graffiti aesthetic at the core of his visual lexicon. This aesthetic integration has manifested into the artist’s consistent yet ever evolving practice that realizes itself across media, from paintings to tattoos to installation art, and produced a signature style that has garnered Codak a prominent inimitable reputation.
Whether working abstractly or figuratively, Codak’s work is defined by an acute sense of the properties and possibilities of line and an intuitive approach to composition and space. Beginning with no set end in sight is a vital strategy to the freedom found in the structure of the final work. Both in the experience of its making as well as its viewing, Codak initiates the chaos of the unknown within the sanctuary of its formal defined structure. The artist’s harmonious clashes within graphic design, painting, and street art, allow for his ideals of composition, theories of destruction and rebirth, and the emotive juxtapositions of color to excavate and emulate the cultural identities within our constructed environments.
Codak's books open February 2022
Follow Codak on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/codak_smith_tattoos/