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Artist Interview Series: Adam Smith

Posted by Angela Tsay on

Adam Smith is a Philadelphia-based artist and one half of Scouts Honor Media Company. We’ve worked with him in the past, but are really excited to unveil a brand new design by Smith, “We Stay Cozy.”

In the spirit of celebration, we did a quick interview and found out more about Adam’s interests, as well as what makes Philly feel like home.

Where in Pennsylvania did you grow up? What made you decide to settle in Philly after college?

“I grew up in Montgomery County, about 45 minutes outside Philly. I always knew I wanted to come back to the area after college. Plus my girlfriend (now wife) got a job in Philly and the timing was perfect so we both moved up around the same time from Savannah, GA.”

When did you start drawing? How did you break into the design world?

“I was always a doodler, but never took it seriously until just a few years ago. When we were kids my friends and I would get in trouble for drawing on the bulletin during church services. I drew all through high school, and originally attended SCAD for animation. I took an elective class in the Metals and Jewelry Department and was really drawn to it, so I ended up switching my major to that.  Drawing fell by the wayside at that point, and I didn’t really revisit it for about 7 years when I realized that all the artists I loved were painters and illustrators…Why the heck was I making jewelry and sculpture?! So I sold all my metal equipment and started teaching myself to draw properly.”

Many of your designs, including therethere’s First American, include elements of tattoo culture—where does that inspiration come from? What other inspirations do you like to draw on in your work?

“Since I was a kid I’ve found tattoos fascinating. It was not something that was generally acceptable at home growing up, and when I got my first tattoo at 21 it was a bit of a shock to my family. They pretty quickly grew to accept it, and since then I’ve collected more tattoos. Beyond the actual artwork, I admire a lot of tattooers for their ability to balance the art with the customer service aspect. Difficult clients are something every designer has to deal with, but I can’t imagine the pressure when the product is a permanent design on the client’s skin!”

What’s your favorite medium to produce your work (ex. on paper, murals, apparel etc.) and why?

“I really love making all sorts of drawings and paintings, and I’m fortunate that I get opportunities to work in a lot of different ways. I think a benefit of being a self-taught artist is being forced to adapt to whatever work comes along. I’m not a specialist. I love drawing on paper in my home studio, but if I did that all day, every day I might go crazy. Likewise with murals and apparel designs. I don’t think I have attention issues, but I’m always ready to move on to the next thing.”

Tell us about Scouts Honor Media Co.! How did you get involved? What kind of projects do you guys take on? Any notable clients?

“Scouts Honor Media Co. is a visual media production company that I co-own with my partner Joshua Wann. Josh also owns a record label, Lamp Mode Recordings, and a few years ago I contacted one of the artists on his label to offer my services as a visual designer. The artist passed my name to Josh who then asked me to design a t-shirt for the record label. The project went well, and a few months later Josh pitched me the idea to start a visual media company. Josh’s specialty is video production, which he was doing on the side from his label, and I focus on design and illustration, so we are able to offer a wide variety of services. Lately I have been taking a larger role in the video side of the company as an art director. Josh loves cinematography, and I love pre-visualizing the way a video will look, so together we make a stronger product. Things have been going well and we recently hired a studio manager, Jasmine, who has helped us become much more productive and efficient. And she adds that feminine touch so clients aren’t scared away by our bearded mugs.”

Do you have any big upcoming projects?

“With Scouts Honor we have a pretty big music video shoot coming up in mid-September. I’m creating backdrops, and stage furniture, and costumes. There is a ton of work to be done before the shoot days. For me personally, I am fortunate enough now that there is no pressure behind my “fine art” to succeed, so I have the luxury of making drawings just for me. The majority of illustration work that comes in now I produce through Scouts Honor.”  

What do you think is Philly’s best kept secret?

“Hmmm… I don’t know if it’s a secret, but a favorite of my wife and mine is theWissahickon Valley Park, which is a huge wooded park full of hiking trails and the Wissahickon creek runs the entire length.  It’s nice to get out to the woods and away from the city for an afternoon, even though the park is technically in Philly.  Otherwise, Paesano‘s has my favorite sandwiches in Philly and Jinxed is my favorite store with a mix of antiques and art toys and apparel.”

To see more of Adam Smith and his work, visit dearadamsmith.com.


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