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Justin Smith: Exploring Painting and Photography in Chattanooga

Justin Smith experiments in multiple art forms to make a name for himself and his business in Chattanooga.

Art in all forms transcends time. Some families pass down heirlooms like a painting or ceramic dish, or perhaps a quilt. The passion for art and the desire to create can also be passed down, which is the case for local painter and photographer Justin Smith.

Just a short seven years ago, Justin began experimenting with photography. After recognizing his passion for the visual arts, he branched into painting and abstract concepts three years later.

“My granny was an artist, so when I was growing up, I would sit and watch her paint,” Justin shared.

While he was always fascinated with her work, his love for sports kept his attention until his adult life. Life as an adult can be challenging and can shake people into new phases of their lives. Four years ago, Justin went through a season of change that sparked the initiative to create.

“Life was in transition, and I moved to this small apartment with my dogs. It was honestly a painful season, and I needed something to process everything I was dealing with,” he said.

In a spur of the moment, Justin bought supplies from Hobby Lobby and sought his Granny for inspiration and support.

From his first canvas to his most recent, the creative process fuels Justin and propels him forward. While a blank canvas may be daunting to many, building medium and layers of paints is one of the most exciting parts of Justin’s process.

“Photography is the gift that helps me visualize my paintings, and while I love photography, painting just hits a different emotion for me,” he shared.

The art community in Chattanooga is blooming and constantly growing. Comparing oneself to others is often an inevitable occurrence, but Justin does his best to focus on himself.

“I try to make all my work custom from building the canvases to custom framing. I simply paint, and if that compares to others, that is great,” Justin said.

With the creative process comes creative intent. For Justin, the driving inspiration and message her hopes to convey is emotion. With every built canvas, Justin hopes to have a viewer visualize a goal or dream and do everything they can to achieve it.

“I never thought I would become an artist, but I had a goal and dream that got me where I am today,” he shared.

While Justin stills works a full-time job, he recently began a joint venture with his friend Jerry Hanner call United Paint & Frame. They begin by building canvases and finish the pieces with custom framing, selling directly from their inventory. Commission orders are also available. While Justin and Jerry both have individual businesses, a lot of passion goes into United Paint & Frame.

“We recently had an art show at the Walden Club and will have another hopefully in the next few months,” Justin shared.

While his new business grows, Justin hopes to continue to evolve his creative process and inspire those who admire his work. His full-time job still takes up the majority of his time, but the overlap between the two careers fuels hi