In Her Element: Artist Genevieve Smith
Get to know the owner of Magpie Painting
“Art was kind of my babysitter,” explains muralist, decorative painter and fine artist Genevieve Smith. Growing up as the daughter of an arts-program director, Smith credits a steady stream of art classes throughout her childhood in Monterey, California, as the fuel for her passion. “It was the most amazing experience,” she says, “because it gave me my ‘thing.’ I couldn’t catch a ball; I was an OK student; but I had my street cred because I could draw, and the other kids respected that. I knew art was my path.”
Shortly after earning a degree in fine art from UC Santa Barbara, Smith took a “real” job at the San Francisco Design Center, working the showroom for a “fancy French fringe and tassel company,” she says. “It was dreadful. I was just so unhappy. I quit the day my benefits kicked in because I knew: The second I get comfortable, I’m going to be stuck.”
Luckily, Smith found her niche when she began working with a decorative painter in San Francisco. “My first year, I made 16K. I was living in a flat with roommates. I had no clue I was poor,” she says. She spent the next five years learning classical decorative painting techniques before launching her own company, Magpie Painting, in 2000.
In 2010, she and her husband, Jason, exhausted by the pace of the Bay Area, relocated to Denver, landing eventually in the sunny North Park Hill bungalow they share with their two daughters, Cora and Lydia, super-pup Devo, and Stickers the cat.
Smith’s work is a thriving mix of creative projects for homeowners, designers and builders, and the occasional business owner. She enjoys a fine balance as an artist and mom, living a life she hopes will inspire her daughters to find their passion in life and pursue it relentlessly as she has. Her best life advice comes from the way she has lived: “Find your ‘thing’ and fight for it,” she says. “Be scrappy and keep going.”