We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I try to take calculated risks instead of “just sending it,” so to speak. If I’m attempting something new and I can imagine myself doing it, I know I can try and go for it with a certain degree of confidence. I leaned this from skating, but can apply it to all sorts of situations, including my art. Of course, the confidence of progression only comes with years of self-critical practice.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I grew up in Germany in the 80s and early 90s and was big into graffiti back then. In ‘94 I moved to Dallas (where my dad lived) and began working as a freelance artist and graffiti took more of a backseat. I had mostly random jobs and it wasn’t until I went to the Art Institute of Dallas in 2004 that I really started my ‘art career.’ My love for visual art and sculpting helped me find my path to the gaming industry, focusing my time at the Art Institute of Dallas on 3D modeling. I earned a 2-year game design degree and graduated earning “Best Portfolio” of the year. Soon after graduating, I was hired at 3D Realms, a prominent game studio in Dallas – and have been in the game industry ever since. Currently, as a lead 3D Artist at Cloud Imperium Games, my role is to develop and build spaceships for the game Star Citizen. I think what sets me apart from others in this role is the unique perspective I bring to the industry because I grew up with many different art influences outside of the gaming world. I am first and foremost a visual artist, with a love and passion for illustration and graffiti. I discovered in college that I enjoy working with people/clients that may have a starting idea or concept and then creating something they will love based on their idea. Which is what I do quite a bit in my profession. I’ve enjoyed great success in the game industry, and I love what I do, but there was also still this other burning fire in me…I wanted to be outside, painting on big walls! In 2018 I began picking up spray painting again and started to connect with the art community in Austin, which is where I currently live with my family. Over time, it has flourished into me having a following of my graffiti murals and acrylic paintings on Instagram and being involved in the awesome art community in Austin, having painted several commissioned murals and (legal) graffiti pieces around downtown. In a funny way, it’s like a second art life. The game art world is somewhat separate, but each world influences/inspires the other, which broadens my overall perspective, which is nice and I’m very appreciative of that. Lessons- When you create you will have (many) failures – learn from them but never get discouraged by them and keep pushing forward. I aim to impress myself when I create something. Never quit learning or trying out new things and constantly look everywhere for inspiration.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If family or friends came to town, I would give them a tour around Austin. There is so much to see and so much beauty in the Hill country and at Lady Bird Johnson Lake, in the heart of the city. I would definitely take them to Mt. Bonnell, and tour around Downtown to see all of the art and graffiti murals, including my own. I would also take them to the wine and liquor distilleries in Dripping Springs, just southwest of Austin, and then end the day with some great BBQ from Salt Lick.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my wife, Josie Eisenberg, for all her crucial support over the years and for always keeping me real! To my kids and family, for always championing me! And to my work/art colleges and friends for being the best!!