BISCO SMITH (b.1980) is a contemporary visual artist with roots in music, graffiti, and street art, currently residing and working in Queens, New York. Bisco works in a variety of formats, including canvas and large outdoor murals, and is known for his “visual freestyle”—characterized as a blend of graffiti deconstruction, gestural abstraction, and lyric-based stylewriting. Made predominantly with a black and white color palette, his art visually captures the rhythms of music and the energy of the moment through its spontaneous marks and abstracted text.
The principles of automatic writing and freestyle rapping—improvisation, stream of consciousness, and being in the moment—are integral to Bisco Smith’s process. He begins each painting by selecting an instrumental song or beat and tuning into the music. When the inspiration hits, Bisco takes to the canvas with dynamic, rhythmic brushstrokes, writing out freestyle lyrics that express the consciousness and energy of that moment. In addition to textural abstractions, a positive undertone and social commentary is a common theme in his work. Often using tools such as household paint, rollers, spray paint, and wheat paste, Bisco brings what he’s learned on the street into the studio.
The connection between music and visual art is central to Bisco Smith’s work. Growing up near New York City, he was heavily influenced by Hip Hop culture in the 90’s. Spanning two decades, he wrote graffiti under the moniker, Bisc1 and simultaneously began DJing and emceeing, creating mixtapes, releasing records, and touring. In addition to music and graffiti, design and composition are characteristic of his artistic style. In 2002, he graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a BFA in Communications Design. Following graduation, he owned and operated, IV Creative, a design studio that regularly collaborated with record labels, artists, and brands.
In 2011, while living in Los Angeles, Bisco experienced a shift in his creative output. What started as a brainstorming session for a design project, ended up as a revelatory moment in his process. With paper on the wall and music playing in the background, he began writing freestyle lyrics instead of design notes. Years spent writing on walls and making music culminated in a transformative moment that would lead the way into a full-time studio practice. As design transitioned into art, he helped launch WNDO, an art space in Venice Beach that regularly hosts artist residencies and gallery exhibitions. Today, with the WNDO in Los Angeles and his studio in New York, he continues to make work and paint walls on both coasts.
Bisco believes in giving energy back and often works with organizations that serve the youth through the arts. Past efforts have included providing art based workshops for youth through Arts by the People, leading a coexistence mural project in Jerusalem, and helping create Urban Art Beat, an after school, music-based nonprofit in New York City.
Bisco Smith has exhibited art, performed music, painted murals, and partnered with creative brands and live events worldwide. His work is regularly exhibited in major markets and is collected by both national and international collectors. Bisco Smith’s aim is to create work that inspires, captivates, offers subtle social commentary, while adding positive energy to the world.