50 States – Maine with Douglas Smith
Douglas Smith – “Book work is my favorite, because it gives me the opportunity to respond to a writer’s story craft with my own stylistic interpretation”
You join us in Maine for the 19th instalment of The Creative Chair’s 50 States series where we’re talking to Douglas Smith, an illustrator, artist, and storyteller.
Steeped with bold details, Douglas has lent his striking style to a myriad of projects.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do
I grew up with a great attachment to visual storytelling, mostly through comics and films, and that led me to seek a career drawing stories. Too slow to do comics (a medium I still love), I followed Illustration, trying to tell at least partial stories with atmosphere & mood, in a single image.
I’ve done a lot of those over the years, and still hope to do a graphic novel or kids’ picture book sometime.
When not at work, Cats rule my life, and an addiction to Collecting various things, from Art and Art Books to Fretwork, Mexican Lobby Cards, and rusty metal objects…
How has your state influenced the work that you do?
This may be disappointing, but the answer is ‘very little’. Though my island home is peaceful and beautiful, I’m not among the hundreds of Maine artists inspired to do landscapes, seascapes, or anything tied to the state and its environs.
As an illustrator, I’ve always done primarily conceptual or storytelling work, coming from inside my head, sitting inside a room, at a drawing table. That goes, and feels, much the same here as it did in Massachusetts, at the start of my career.
Of your own work, what is your favourite project and why?
Book work is my favorite, because it gives me the opportunity to respond to a writer’s story craft with my own stylistic interpretation, and hopefully add something unique to the written material. So I’d have to say the series of Gregory Maguire novels I did covers and interior illustrations for, starting with WICKED, to the end of his Oz series, and his other adult novels, were my most creative project.
And finally, if you died and got reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?
Odd but intriguing question! I’m not sure how to interpret it, so I’ll just go with the single song that has moved me the most over the decades – ‘Up On The Roof’. Not The Drifters’ version, though – too straightforward ‘Pop’. But Carole King’s heartfelt rendition, or James Taylor’s, or Laura Nyro’s. They all capture a sense of aloneness and city stress, and relief, in beauty, and the hope of love.
- Became the 23rd State on the 15th March 1820
- The only single syllabled state in America
- Produces 90% of the countries toothpicks