Artist’s Notebook:
Zak Smith

February 3, 2014 | Marina Galperina

ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished piece. This week, Los Angeles-based Zak Smith shows us his sketchbook to painting process.

These are the same people in my sketchbook. I wanted to make a painting that was more aggressive than these…

…–that confronted you with people who looked like they were looking back at you. Less a window, more a mirror.

This is the first sketch for the whole painting–a 9 feet long, with 6 girls.

First head for the first drawing. Black acrylic on paper.

Sketch of how that head would connect to the painting above it.

This is how it looked when it was connected to the painting above–I decided I wanted this to be its own painting.

So Pixie got a painting to herself… and I kept going…

Temper and Mandy–these heads actually made it into the big painting.

Acrylic paint on paper again.

Close-up fragment of the abstract painting in the background. Likewise, acrylic.


Zak Smith is an artist based in Los Angeles. See his art books: Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s RainbowWe Did Porn: Memoir and Drawings and more.

Previous Artist’s Notebook selects:

Artist’s Notebook: Brenna Murphy
Artist’s Notebook: Gordon Holden
Artist’s Notebook: Jonathan Monaghan
Artist’s Notebook: Adam Ferriss
Artist’s Notebook: Genevieve Belleveau
Artist’s Notebook: Andrew Ohanesian
Artist’s Notebook: Saoirse Wall
Artist’s Notebook: Melissa F. Clarke
Artist’s Notebook: William Powhida
Artist’s Notebook: Molly Crabapple
Artist’s Notebook: Don Hertzfeldt