Kim Smith

Being Happy
5″x6″; antique papers, acrylic, Yes! paste, rag backing; 2016

Kim Smith
San Francisco, California, USA


My work is meant to be intimate and thought provoking, though one sometimes finds a humorous element within the frame. It is deceptively subtle, with an appearance of innocence at first glance. On closer look though, the viewer receives a soft blow. I’m not a protester, but I have so much to say. I use my political collages as my voice and the humorous ones as a source of entertainment.

I have always worked with vintage materials, archival glues and archival backings. I like to use antique imagery and text, because it reminds me of my childhood growing up in Germany. Working with old material–pieces of paper from everyday life such as photographs, letters, and book pages–gives me pleasure, and coincidentally makes sense for my beliefs. Using existing materials is an automatic way of recycling and preserving, which reinforces my desire to better the world and planet.


Born in the United States, Kim Smith spent 10 formative childhood years living in Germany. Her work is meant to be intimate and thought provoking, though one sometimes finds a humorous element within the frame. She is strongly influenced by the European museums and flea markets that her parents exposed her to. As a result of living in and traveling extensively throughout Europe, she is greatly influenced by German and Austrian art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: the Dada, Bauhaus, and Wiener Werkstätte movements, as well as Russian Constructivism. Her Mecca is the Neue Galerie in New York City because of its focus on the art of this period. Smith feels that working with vintage and antique materials brings the authenticity of old Europe to her work and allows her to share the beauty of her early experiences with the viewer.

Smith painstakingly cuts and arranges the elements in her collages before gluing them down. Her studio is a sea of little pieces of paper spread out on tables. Sometimes a collage will be reworked for weeks before any glue is applied. Her meticulously composed and edited work is as much about what is not there, as what is. Although it may look spontaneous, almost everything present in her compositions is deliberate.

She uses antique and vintage materials for her images, but the glues and backing that support the image are archival, so as not to add to the natural aging process.

Smith has earned degrees in Design and Economics, as well as an MBA. After an extensive business career in the garment industry and then investment banking, her desire to balance the duality of her left and right brain inspired her to start her own art process. A business owner since 1998, she splits her time between her art studio at Hunters Point Shipyard and her home office where she is a dealer and manufacturer of vintage and vintage-inspired wall décor. In fact, it was remnants from the business that became her original collage materials.

She loves to spend days exploring galleries and museums and those experiences can have an overwhelming impact, creating a breath-stopping raw energy that makes her want to produce her own work.


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Blue Elephant
9″x6″; antique papers, ink, Yes! paste, rag backing; 2014

4″x10″; picturescape, antique photos, Yes! paste, rag backing; 2014

Stop Putting Crap in My Food
10″x8″; antique papers, Yes! paste, rag backing; 2014

Working With Idiots
10″x8″; antique and vintage papers, Yes! paste, rag backing; 2014