A Day In The Life Of Jamie Smith

Most days of my life begin with a cocker spaniel leaping onto the bed, lying flat on my chest and requesting a walk. It’s possibly the most snuggly alarm clock on the market, albeit one with the stinkiest breath – but tripe will have that effect.

Once dressed and fed, man and dog take to the countryside of Surrey. Walking the canal towpaths in the company of breakfast stalking heron and the wide-eyed, and overly suspicious deer; or we head to the golf course, where I throw a frisbee as far as my creaking bones will allow.

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The morning walk refreshes the mind and, returning home, I take the 16 stepping stone commute to my garden studio, ideally there should be 17 stones so my final step is in the mud, which I squelch through my carpet. In the summer months I’ll throw open the windows and doors, if it’s winter I’ll slide across the floor on my belly to fire up the fan heater as quickly as is humanly possible.

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Now we’re in the studio you might expect to view a photograph of an interesting and inspirational artistic workspace. Sadly my walls are constructed from the least adhesive material you’re ever likely to find – a roll of duct tape won’t hold a postcard to the wall when faced with the tremors caused by a sparrow landing on the roof.

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So here is my functional space.  The wardrobe (that came with the house) cunningly doubles as a bookcase and has a conveniently placed mirror, for the illustrator to contort his face into that of a bear bothered by a fly, or a stomping troll.

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A studio re-design is required, so you’re likely to find colourful piles of books sprouting like the hardy perennials that surround them in the garden.

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There is inspiration to be taken from my surroundings though. The green woodpecker who delved headfirst into an ants nest, covering himself from head to toe with scurrying food. Or the baby blue tit, who bravely leapt from our nesting box only to discover that flying wasn’t as easy as mother made it sound, so he scuttled behind my studio door until he was sure the coast was clear. The perplexed pheasant, the resident grasshopper, the fearsome flying ants, and not forgetting the visit of a thousand starlings, which brought Hitchcock’s The Birds to my very own doorstep ; it all goes on in a garden.

My university years fell when the macintosh was something to be worn in the rain, so I started life as a dip pen and watercolour artist. My work now begins with a 2B pencil, and over the years I’ve migrated to the computer. It’s an ever evolving process and, with the recent addition of the Cintiq, I feel that I have many exciting avenues to explore ahead of me. I still use a dip pen and wash on occasions, I paint textures to export to the computer; but mostly my process consists of a pencil, my trusty moleskine, the whir of a scanner and photoshop.

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I feel very lucky to have worked as a full time illustrator for over 15 years, as I boy I carried a sketchbook everywhere – even the bright lights of Blackpool could not compete. There have been bumps and re-inventions along the way but I’m as excited by my work now as I ever have been. Much of my career has been spent working with American clients, so I’m hoping that my recent arrival with Bright and a quick MOT test might bring a re-introduction to my nearest neighbours.

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My day ends with a pulling down of the studio blinds, a locking of the door and a squelch where the 17th step should be, through the back door and a cuddle with tripe breath (or the wife, whoever I happen to meet first).

…and then to watch a little television, or read a book by the log fire.

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Click here for Jamie Smith’s Portfolio