Richard J. Smith explores unexpected interrelationships between everyday images through surrealist photomontage. Working with elements from nature, pedestrian objects, specially-commissioned photos, and scenes from his travels and neighborhood, he fuses these components into ethereal yet cohesive views that transcend their origins. A self-taught graphic artist with 20+ years of professional experience, Smith incorporates assimilated photographic techniques and modern photomanipulation approaches into his handcrafted compositions. He calls his work “Handcrafted Surrealism” because all photography and editing are done via smartphone.
Smith has been recognized globally for his photomontage art, with his pieces being shared across a growing number of international creative venues.
He also considers it weird writing about himself in the third person.
Hi, I’m Richard Smith, aka “rsmithing.” I blend scenes from my surroundings into surreal photomontages. What you see are stylized amalgamations of my everyday world.
Richard Smith + things = rsmithings.
I call my art “Handcrafted Surrealism,” as I photograph and compose exclusively via smartphone. I believe this medium enhances the personal element of connection between artist and audience, because with a smartphone as medium — your fingers become the brushes; your movements become the brush strokes, and you literally cradle a creation as it comes into existence — all with an object you keep on your person and interact with likely hundreds of times a day. Not all smartphone art has these craftsmanship-like qualities, but in the case of my work, every final creation taken in by viewers is something I have stared at, in hand, physically maneuvering, and repeatedly refining as the elements come into place.
I see things in new ways since discovering the possibilities of photography and photomontage. A rich universe of detail exists all around us, all the time, just waiting to be appreciated. And with only a little effort we’re free to enjoy it whenever we want.
I’ve always believed beauty is everywhere and that we should take time to notice it. Art surrounds us, whether in architecture, words, music, or just in nature. And having an appreciation for that can make life more meaningful.
My technique is this: I constantly snap photos of whatever’s around that I find interesting. Once the urge to create strikes, I then start a synthesizing journey. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed; other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving.
My process is like carving a sculpture, with the edges of my fingers forming lines to define shapes and reveal serendipitous relationships — not unlike physically placing individual elements as in a paper collage — except I do this through masking, blending and mimicking established photographic techniques like solarization or vignetting. Each piece is meticulously crafted with these and other ingredients, using direct touch to form a hierarchy of narrative.
Ever since first laying eyes on the photomontage medium, I’ve been fascinated with the form, having since been inspired toward a career as a professional graphic artist. Manipulating reality for artistic effect has always been my favorite part of graphic design, so I’ve worked to develop my technique for doing this in my own creations, using photography of the immediate as source material to illustrate and emphasize the artfulness of our everyday environments.
I philosophically identify with early surrealists like Max Ernst, who defined the structure of the surrealist painting as: “a linking of two realities that by all appearances have nothing to link them, in a setting that by all appearances does not fit them.”
My favorite art is the kind that gets viewers to consider things in new ways. I believe that’s the most exciting thing about sharing creativity: the opportunity for a mind-expanding encounter. It can happen through words, music, visuals, or just keenly noticing what’s right in front of us at any moment. And it’s a wonderful feeling, both to experience and create.
My direct visual inspirations include fine artists such as Dalí & Escher; avant-garde photographers including Man Ray & Francesca Woodman; classic photography masters such as Ansel Adams & Erwin Blumenfeld; along with contemporary creators like Sion Fullana, Tommy Ingberg, and of course, the ultimate photomontage master and my deepest inspiration, Jerry Uelsmann. If you enjoy my creations, definitely seek out the work of these great artists.
Thank you for visiting my site. I hope you enjoy what you see and welcome your thoughts on my work.