Intrepid Artists: Mickey Smith – The dark side of the lens

Travel and the world around us is the fuel of all the creative work I make.

Early on, I thought I had to let my life revolve around my work. Making sure I spent 8 hours in the studio everyday and the rest of my life would just fit around those hours. But it was boring. I’m grateful I realized this so early on while still in college.

Before I got to CalArts I thought it was going to be awesome to draw everyday. But after the first year, I was so bored with my day to day. Even working on cool projects, I was still bored.

Then I got scared. I didn’t want to end up in a studio job. Even though I’ve been saying I wanted to be an animator since I was 6, I realized it wasn’t the sedentary life I wanted.

I didn’t fit my personality or the lifestyle I wanted.

Then I saw a short film called The Dark Side of the Lens. It’s about a surf photographer in Ireland. It was and still is an impactful film to watch. It’s poetic, creative, and gritty around the edges. It’s the perfect example of creativity rooted in a real world experience.

After watching the film, it was the first time I reflected on the work I was making. I loved to draw, so I had to figure out a way to make an interesting living from my work. I also needed an interesting reason to create my work. I wanted to take what I already loved, drawing, and make it “un-boring”.

This decision would change my working style and determine what tools I use.

Instead of needing an elaborate painting studio I had to only work from a sketchbook and a laptop. Keeping a spontaneity and independence to my work. Allowing me to capture more of what was around me and document my experiences as I travel. Even when I’m not traveling, I like to keep a quick and fast approach to my work.

Since watching this film, I’ve always kept an eye out for other adventuring artists. Over time, accumulating a collection of creative adventurers to reference for inspiration. Artists to turn to when I felt alone. Reassuring me in my creative and professional decisions I’ve made.

From now on, every week I’m going to share the Intrepid Artists who’ve inspired me here on my blog.

I hope you find inspiration from these artists and their work as much as I have.