In the latest episode of the Art and Cocktails podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Liam Smith, a talented oil painter and educator based in Toronto. We had an enlightening conversation about his journey as an artist, his transition to teaching online, and his remarkable growth on social media.

Mark Liam Smith is an oil painter based in Toronto, Canada. He developed an interest in art at an early age and spent much of his childhood drawing obsessively. After completing three bachelor’s degrees (in Painting, Physiology, and Linguistics) at the University of Saskatchewan, he spent many years working in linguistics before returning to art. Smith is colorblind, and his palette reflects that: he uses highly saturated, often non-local colors to render his realistic still lifes. He draws from his linguistics background to inject narrative and symbolism into his paintings. Since he began painting professionally in 2015, he has shown his work in dozens of exhibitions and art fairs around the world, including SCOPE Basel, PULSE Art Fair in Miami Beach, Affordable Art Fair in NYC, Satellite Art Fair in NYC, Art Seattle, Art Toronto, and Papier Art Fair in Montreal. When he’s not painting, he’s teaching millions of others how to draw and paint on social media.

Mark's Inspiring Journey

Mark's path as an artist is truly inspiring. He shared how he began his career, the challenges he faced, and how his passion for art and storytelling led him to where he is today. His transition to teaching online was a significant step, allowing him to reach a broader audience and share his expertise with aspiring artists worldwide.

Skyrocketing Social Media Growth

One of the most impressive aspects of Mark's journey is his social media growth. In just a few years, he went from 20,000 to 2 million followers. This incredible achievement is a testament to his dedication, creativity, and the heart of service he brings to his community. Mark emphasized the importance of engaging with his audience and providing valuable content that resonates with them.

The Art of Storytelling

Mark's interest in narrative and storytelling within his artwork adds a unique dimension to his pieces. He believes that every artwork has a story to tell and that connecting with this narrative can help viewers engage more deeply with the art. This passion for storytelling also drives his desire to help others reconnect with their creativity, encouraging them to explore their own narratives through art.

Tips for Beginners

For those just starting their artistic journey, Mark offers invaluable advice. He stresses the importance of experimentation and maintaining privacy in one's art practice. Experimentation allows artists to discover new techniques and styles, while privacy can provide a safe space for growth and development.

Supporting Yourself as an Artist

Mark also shared practical ways for artists to support themselves, including selling prints and utilizing social media platforms effectively. By diversifying income streams and building a strong online presence, artists can create sustainable careers while sharing their work with a global audience.

Upcoming Projects

We also discussed Mark's upcoming projects, including his new book, "The New Artist's Guide to Drawing," and his upcoming show with Treat Gallery in New York. These exciting ventures showcase his continued commitment to his craft and his desire to inspire and educate others.


This conversation with Mark Liam Smith was filled with practical advice and creative insights. His journey is a powerful reminder of the importance of passion, dedication, and community in the world of art. I encourage you to tune in to the full episode for more inspiration and tips from Mark.


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Stay tuned for more inspiring conversations on the Art and Cocktails podcast, where we explore the journeys, growth, and creative practices of artists around the world!