A number of weeks ago I launched a new feature on the blog for designers, artists and suppliers. A feature for emerging, existing and new artists to showcase their work, as I know just how tough it is out there to getÂ work seen. Â Entitled âOpen Callâ Â we have been inundated and blown away by the response its literally taking ages to go through everything, Â the response has been so amazing so thank you guys. Regrettably we can't reply to individual emails but each and every week we are highlighting some of the coolest. Some of the work if it fits our aestheticÂ I will stock in my own store and website so the first person I wanted to highlight was Barbara Smith. Barbara emailed in images of her fabulous art a while back and from the moment I clicked open I was blown away. So much so I brought a pieceÂ for my studio (see below) and we are stocking her work online which is hugely exciting! Barbara's work is frequently characterised by a distinctive and recurrent theme of death and mortality but also references popular culture, comics, art history and you can see much more of it by clicking here. Below is the first image I saw on Barbara's site, below that is the painting sitting rather beautifully in my studio! I'm also putting the work on pinterest under Open Call. Each and every week I'll be asking the designers a bunch of questions to give us further insight not just into their work but how they find the industry starting off. Hope you like this feature as much as I do. If you fancy submitting your work just email firstname.lastname@example.org with some images What inspired you to start painting? When I was four years old, my mother took me to an Art gallery and I said "One day I would like my pictures to be hanging on walls too". I've always been creative whether it's drawing, painting, designing. I was lucky to be taught by passionate Art teachers and my mother, who is also very creative, pushed me to follow my dreams. I went on to study design at Goldsmith's but ended up spending more time in the Art department. What is the inspiration behind this collection? Life, Death & Hope, this is the underlying theme throughout my current artwork. In some ways, I think it's related to becoming aware of mortality, having lost my father and close people. It's also inspired by the current social and economical climate, for example, the initial inspiration behind the painting "Keep Calm + Carry On" was in relation to the general fear and morosity here in France, triggered by the financial crisis. This powerful motivational slogan, originally created during WWII to boost population's moral in the UK, is still so fitting today - whichever the context, whatever the place. My inspiration can come from many sources, from what is happening in the world, to people I meet, conversations, a state of mind, flicking through my art books and interior magazines, watching films and TV shows, listening to music... My work includes processes such as drip painting, blind-contour drawing and stencilling which I find to be quite liberating and exciting. To a certain extent, I allow room for accidents so I don't really know how a painting is going to turn out, I need a sense of discovery and surprise throughout the process. For me in the early days I found the most frustrating part was getting buyers to even view my products. How have your found this process? Internet and social media are great tools for that, there are a lot more opportunities now, such as your Open Call, which really is a fabulous way to give creatives such as myself extra visibility. Have you found buyers/galleries approachable and how easy has it been getting through the door! It's only recently that I have been exhibiting my work, I am receiving some fabulous feedback and have got some great publications and work displayed in New York e-boutiques and now here on your site, which I love! Any words of advise for someone starting off? Believe, persist and don't be afraid to network, the Internet is a great tool. How do you stay motivated in such challenging economic times? Yes, times are challenging, hence my present motto being "With hope I carry on". I'm lucky because I am surrounded by a bunch of really talented friends who are all artists, photographers, filmmakers, and musicians... We all tend to reach out to each other depending on what's happening. You never know what or who's around the corner, I tend to stay focused, and I work on a variety of projects to help keep things exciting. I tend to go stir-crazy if I'm not working. What are your dreams for the future? I'd love to collaborate more with other artists and designers. Exhibit more and ultimately I want to keep being as creative as possible and to challenge myself with new themes and ideas.