WRDS To Live By: Street Art Gets Spiritual

WRDSMTH is a quickly rising street artist known for his uplifting messages on iconic typewriters. Based in Los Angeles, he primarily works with spray paint, stencils and wheat paste.  GLAM4GOOD loves his positive missives and talked to the writer and artist, who keeps his identity secret, about the impact his work is making around the world.

What is your work’s mission?

I aspire to inspire the dreamer and the romantic in us all by temporarily tattooing walls all over the world with indelible words and phrases.

What gave birth to this form of self-expression and how and why did you start doing it?

First and foremost, I am a writer. I love to write…always have. I am a published author and former advertising copywriter. I have written screenplays and short films, and have also worked in documentary TV. I enjoy writing in various mediums and street art is just a new medium — albeit a pretty kick-ass one. The amazing thing is, I started WRDSMTHing for me. I was seeking an active hobby — something to get me out of the chair and away from the computer for stretches of time. However, I didn’t want whatever I did to distract me from writing. I wanted it to somehow be an extension of my first love. It was conundrum until I considered trying my hand at street art.

 

“Truth told, before I started, I actually didn’t think I could do street art. I never considered myself a artist of the paint and brush variety. I’m a writer. However, the idea of putting my words out there in a new medium motivated me, so I just dove in. The action energized me and I was addicted.”

 

But, again, I started it for me. After a few weeks, I began to notice that the WRDs I was painting and posting were resonating with people and that just added fuel to the creative fire.

How do you pick the words you use or come up with the meaning?

I find inspiration everywhere. I started off by saying things to people in Los Angeles that I wished someone would have said to me when I first arrived — words of encouragement and motivation. My work evolved and I began speaking to people all over the world and in all walks of life. I aim to affect people in a positive manner with my WRDs — whether they are inspirational, romantic, or funny. If I affect someone, I have done my job.

How do people react to your work?

People seem to really enjoy it. Every day my Instagram feed is abuzz with comment, tagging, re-grams, and photos of my work in the streets. I also get messages daily from fans and from individuals telling stories of how my WRDs have affected their lives. My romantic WRDs also seem to help bring people together. Whenever I post a romantic piece, the comments section of my Instagram pretty much turns into a get-a-room scenario — and that makes me smile.

When did you start using Instagram to to highlight your work?

From the get-go. In fact, Instagram was, in part, responsible for my name. I was toying with Wordsmith or Wordsmith In LA but when I saw that Wordsmith was not available on IG, I removed the vowels, loved the look of it, saw that it was available, and ran with it.

How has Instagram helped your work?

Social media in general has been a key to my growth and awareness. In the day and age of texting, sharing photos and emoticons to express oneself has become the norm — but it’s always fun to be unique and people seem to enjoy the act of sharing my work to express themselves in a more unique manner.

 

“As a writer, Instagram enables me to be read on a daily basis all over the word — and for any writer, that’s living the dream.”

How do you sell your work?

I get requests for commissions on an on-going basis. I am up in a few galleries and have done several gallery shows. I am working on a website. And Paper And Fabric is a company I work with that offers prints and shirts. Anything I do or offer to fans usually has a charitable overlay to it. I believe in paying it forward and my success has been so unexpected, I always aim to give back whenever and however I can.

Have you ever been arrested or shut down putting your work up?

About a year-and-a-half after starting, I finally had cops roll up on me while I was putting up a piece. Funny thing is I was more nervous than I thought I’d be, but it was the officers who said, “Hey, relax, we kind of like what you’re doing.” Bottom line, it all comes down to who catches you in the act and their personality and mood. I was lucky and have been lucky so far in my career — knock on wood.

How do you pick the locations for a piece?

Location depends on a lot of things. I am always walking and driving around the city (and any city for that matter) and cannot help but notice great areas or walls or newly buffed utility boxes. Sometimes the location will inspire me to write a WRD and I then aim to capture that environment along with the words in a great photo.

What is the the most emotional story you have heard about how your work has helped someone?

I’ve had several people break down and cry when they meet me — but in a good way.

“One story I heard (via email) said my work helped someone through an extremely trying time and, amid thoughts of suicide, my WRDs gave that individual hope and also inspired them to express themselves through art.  Stories like that obviously motivate me to great extremes.”

GLAM4GOOD finds your work so powerful did you set out to empower when you started? Tell us about that evolution.

I started WRDSMTHing for me. But, when the words started resonating with others and when people started requesting commissions, it made me want to be a better artist and to find ways to get my WRDs to a wider audience. I learned to make better stencils, I experimented with paints and materials, and I was motivated to get up in more places in bigger and bolder ways.

How do you hope your work helps people?

I hope I affect people in a positive manner — whether it’s making them smile as they drive in their car, when the turn a corner when walking down the street, or as they scroll through pictures on Instagram. If that smile affects their mood, moment and day, then maybe it will have a positive domino effect. That kind of growth and awareness is what I am striving for.

Any upcoming projects or shows you are focusing on now?

It’s year three of this endeavor and I am just aiming to surprise people with the size and location of my WRDs. I am having a lot of fun and I have some fun stuff planned. I might also aim for a solo show in the latter part of the year. Stay tuned…

WRDSMTH tells GLAM4GOOD that if anyone would like to talk to him, they can. Whether you have a question about street art, need advice, wondering if he’s single, thinking about a commission, or just want to say hey-hi-hello — feel free to email him here. You can follow WRDSMITH on Instagram here.
Photographs courtesy of WRDSMTH, Dean Sunshine, The Hollywood Fix and D7606.

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