Jess Smart Smiley mural

Originators: Jess Smart Smiley

Graphic work and illustration are just a couple of talents artist Jess Smart Smiley has adopted. He’s also dabbling in animation, comics, cartooning, and many other forms of drawing, dedicating most all of his time as a full-time freelance artist. I think I’ve also heard him sing a song once. Regardless, he’s spending the majority of his time impressing the absolute hell out of me.

Multi-talented to say the least, Jess Smart Smiley graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in graphics design and has been finding work ever since. In between his comics, cartooning, and constant portrait work, he allowed some time to talk to Mass Appeal about his efforts.

Jess Smart SMiley Frog

Mass Appeal: Who are you?

Jess Smart Smiley: My name is Jess Smart Smiley and I’m an illustrator and graphic designer.

MA: How did you first know you wanted to start illustrating?

JSS: When I was younger I liked to invent things. I forget how old I was, but I came up with this invention for a pair of glasses with pencils for earpieces. My dad would take his glasses off to take notes, so I figured it would be handy if the sides were made of removable pencils that he could take out and use to write. Anyway, I drew a kind of diagram of the invention to show how it worked.

After that, I started paying attention to other drawings and how they described things visually. How they communicated certain information with color, light and line. From then on I was hooked!

Jess Smart Smiley Kids Comics

MA: Then you decided to make a career out of it?

JSS: [Laughs] Well, from then on I knew that I wanted to draw for the rest of my life. It’s something that always pays off for me.

I’ve gone through different phases of focusing on different aspects of art–animation, cartooning, comic art, illustration, graphic design, etc. — but drawing has always been central to whatever I’m doing.

MA: Which aspect are you currently most into?

JSS: From 8-10 am it’s illustration. 10-4 it’s graphic design. 4-10 pm it’s cartooning and comic art. That’s kind of a joke, but that’s about how I use each of them on a daily basis right now.

Jess Smart Smiley Mtrodome Color

MA: So you work on multiple things every single day?

JSS: Oh, yeah. I have to. I work full-time as a freelance illustrator/graphic designer, and I’m also doing my own projects and developing new things, so I end up starting, finishing, and continuing projects every day. It’s a pretty natural way of working, though. Just when I’m feeling stuck on an illustration, I can turn to a website design and feel refreshed. From there, I can go back to developing a new character, or inking a comic page, or adding color and texture to a book project.

MA: What are some recent projects you’ve just wrapped up?

JSS: I just wrapped up a four-page mini comic with Dave Scheidt for Aw Yeah! Comics, some album artwork for Corey Mon, a giant look-n-find coloring poster, a handful of websites, an illustration for a magazine, a single page comic for an anthology, and two rough drafts for children’s books. Oh, and a bunch of portraits and prints. That’s all in the last month, month-and-a-half.

Jess Smart Smiley Mural

MA: Wow.

JSS: Yeah, and that’s on top of everything I’ve been developing and getting out to conferences, festivals, symposiums, and school/bookstore/library visits!

MA: And you still have time for leisure, or do you consider your job almost the same?

JSS: I get a lot of pleasure from my work, but I also get out with the family a lot. I love to bike and go for hikes (the mountains are a 10-minute bike ride away), and I’m always looking for another good book to read. I also like long walks on the beach…

Jess Smart Smiley Potrait

MA: Personally, what are you trying to accomplish right now?

JSS: I’m trying to push my writing and dig a little deeper into the comics medium. Good writing entrances me and it’s time I took a stab at it. Same with comics. It’s like I’m seeing them now for the first time!

MA: Do you like working on comics the best out of everything else, or is that just for the time being?

JSS: Right now, I’m just really receptive to comics, so I’m trying to pay attention to what I read and see. I’m noticing so many strengths in how comics work and I’m just excited to try some of these things out in my own work. All those things I mentioned (animation, cartooning, illustration, etc) are all just different parts of the same thing. With comics, I get to draw a bunch – which I love – and they allow me to design characters, create illustrations, consider movement within panels, and use what I’m learning about design to compose pages.

Jess Smart SMiley Wolverine

MA: I saw you did a mural for your city. How did that come about?

JSS: Yeah! Such a fun project. A friend of mine got word that the Provo Police Department was looking for an artist to paint these tunnels along the Provo River Trail. He mentioned me and my work and I met with the committee just a few days later to pitch some ideas.

In the past, the tunnels have been pretty sketchy, so the city wanted to clean it up and make a friendlier, more inviting trail. I came up with all of these scenes we could do–fish from the river, facts about the city, people walking/biking/jogging, neighborhoods. Things like that. They liked the idea and I spent the next three months and 200 hours, priming, painting and sealing the walls and ceilings.

Jess Smart Smiley

There was a high school art class that came and helped with the base coats in the larger tunnel, and the police department helped clean and prepare the cement walls, as well as paint some of the larger areas. I should mention that I painted my family and friends into the mural. I grew up not too far from the trail, so it was a great experience for me to pay tribute to my home town.

MA: Do you consider that your proudest work?

JSS: I don’t know, but it’s easily one of the highlights! It’s really satisfying to put paint on a wall and know that it’s going to be there a while, encouraging people in a fun way.

Kylie Orange Artwork from Jess Smart Smiley

Related Articles

Art
Art

Hip Hop’s Genesis Drawn in “Family Tree” Comic

Art
Art

Originators: Anna Bongiovanni

Art
Art

Get An Exclusive Look at Darryl Makes Comics’ DMC #2

Art
Art

#TinyBatman and #TinyHellboy Are A Big Hit, Blowing Up Twitter

Ad

Latest News

Meek Mill's crew apparently attacks Safaree in Los Angeles. News

Safaree Gets Jumped, Calls Meek Mill “Biggest Pussy On This Planet”

Meek remains unfazed
Music

With ‘Project E.T.,’ DJ Esco and Future Gave Listeners “Too Much Sauce”

"Yeah, all of my diamonds they shine, Haters like knock that off"
Metro Boomin drops a new song with Drake and Offset Music

Metro Boomin Drops Surprise Drake, Offset Collab, “No Complaints”—Is Album Next?

The Atlanta producer's got everybody lookin'
Zola News

Viral Dancing Gorilla Sad Reminder Of What Harambe Could Have Been

Impressive moves but... damn
tupac filmmakers sued by former vibe writer Film

‘All Eyez On Me’ Filmmakers Sued for Using Fictional Characters in Tupac Biopic

Former ‘VIBE’ writer claims the movie steals his intellectual property
Call of Duty 4 Screencap Remastered Tech/Games

‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered’ Standalone Release Coming Soon

COD fans who skipped the $80 'Infinite Warfare' bundle are psyched
memesmahnegguh, coco mango cherry Hey, You're Cool

Hey, You’re Cool! @memesMahNegguh

Adult Swim, holler at your boy!
Banksy News

Goldie Refers to Banksy as “Rob,” People Freak Out

You do realize how many Robs there are in the world, right?
Music

New Music From Vince Staples, dvsn, Heems and More

The Listening Room (June 23, 2017)
2017 Draft Class Sports

The Major Takeaways from the 2017 NBA Draft

Last night we watched men both younger and way more talented than us become way richer than us. Welp
Sizzla-DJ-Khaled News

The Untold Story Behind DJ Khaled and Sizzla’s “I’m So Grateful”

Khaled and Kalonji go way back
Eric B. & Rakim will reunite to celebrate 30th anniversary of Paid In Full. Music

Eric B. & Rakim Announce First Show Together in Over 20 Years

Finally let the rhythm hit 'em
essex-market-featured Art

‘Market Surplus’ Gives a Building on the L.E.S. One Last Jolt Before Demolition

Mural art show features Faust, Lamour Supreme, ELLE and more
Silicon Valley: The Soundtrack is available now. Music

Stream ‘Silicon Valley: The Soundtrack,’ Featuring Nas, Run the Jewels, Wu-Tang ...

A Mass Appeal and HBO collaboration, streaming now
Jay 305 talks about Suga Free's 'Street Gospel' album. Music

Jay 305 Preaches on Suga Free’s Classic ‘Street Gospel’

Chuuch!
Sebastian Gorka News

Trump’s Top Advisor: There’s Only Radical Muslims and Those Soon To Be Radical

Trump's top advisor doesn't confirm he hates Islam, but does tell us he doesn't like hip hop