STUDIO VISIT 03: Smij Smyth

When one looks at the work of an artist, we tend to make assumptions about the identity of said artist. When looking at the work of Smij Smyth, it would only be safe to assume that we are looking at the work of a tatted up sailor that lives inside an old wooden ship. This, however, is not the case. On the contrary we have an artist based in Fremantle that in fact lives inside a normal brick house (but his studio emulates this old wooden ship feeling).

Upon walking in, I noticed an array of Victoria Bitter cans, cigarette butts and what use to be bottles of Jameson, now merely serving the purpose of holding candles. This along with an assortment of rustic-looking memorabilia, photos and books, contributed to the rugged but charming atmosphere of the work space.

The works of Smij are a reflection of his preoccupation with tattoos, beer, cigarettes, rock ‘n’ roll and all that it encompasses. Each work is an intricate creation of what Smij finds pleasing to the eye – this is accompanied by a story that he tries to communicate. This is exemplified in the image of a dark character in a denim jacket flying a koi fish towards a full moon. His designs are remnant of kitschy Americana sailor tattoos, but with a surrealist twist – the images are dark and distorted but they tend to have a comical element to them.

On his drawing desk lays a tattered leather bound sketch book.

“I’m always sketching. My work always arises from something smaller- or a few different sketches combined. I have many ideas but I rarely ever paint straight to canvas.”

Smij likens his work to that of Stormie Mills, and draws influence from a number of local artists such as Rob Jenkins.

When asked about the motivations behind his work, Smij emphasised what motivates and inspires him to create the works that he does:

“I like cheap beer. I’m not a beer connoisseur by any means…the day I turn into a beer connoisseur my paintings will go up in price. It’s a taxable part of my business I suppose…the beer tax”.

To fund the creation of the fantastically bizarre mind and works of Smij’s, check out his latest works at the Temple of the Muse on the 22nd of July for NOWHEREVILLE or follow him on Instagram (@_smij_).

For more details check out