Freddie Smithson
image with artdirection
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Interview

Freddie Smithson

He’s a graphic designer, art director and, most importantly, one of the most ironic creatives of the Instagram era. Meryl Streep in a fleece sweatshirt and cotton sweatpants, the Olsen twins on Segways and Her Majesty The Queen in a pair of Balenciaga purple boots are just some of the original works of this young Londoner. Let’s get to know Freddie Smithson together!

Freddie, how did you get into Art Direction?

It was pretty accidental, just a natural progression from what I was doing before! As a child, I was very creative and I eventually went to study Graphic Communication at Bath Spa University. I graduated just as social media, especially Instagram, was really taking off. This, combined with an interest I’ve always had in fashion, led to me getting my first job at House of Holland in London. From there, I moved to my current agency, Cult LDN, as a designer, where I then progressed into Art Direction as I began to concept and oversee more shoots and experiential events.


image with artdirection
image with artdirection

The work I’m most proud of has to be a recent collaboration with Dior to create a series of GIPHY stickers for their Resort 19 Collection. I used elements from their reimagined ‘Toile de Jouy’ print and created the suite of stickers, which is now live on Instagram Stories. Dior is a brand I’ve always looked to and admired, so to be able to work on something like this was a total dream.

First things first, what’s your main, digital source of inspiration?

I guess the main source of inspiration for my work on Instagram is what’s going on in the world at the time. I like to tap into political commentary as well as join in more trivial conversations around celebrity and pop culture. More broadly though, I don’t really have one real source of inspiration. I visit a lot of exhibitions and love discovering new cities, places, history and architecture, which I think all contributes in one way or another.


Your art is just as funny as irreverent. What’s the hidden message behind it all?

I like to think there are no hidden messages in my work. There are always subtle nods, puns and a combination of word and image play, which maybe take a moment to register, but I try to make sure what I do is just as accessible as possible. When I started my page, it was meant as an antidote to what I thought at the time was quite an inaccessible industry, fashion. Obviously, times have moved on and I don’t think that’s so much the case anymore, but I think bridging that gap between high and low brow still has a place, and if nothing else, I certainly enjoy doing it - it keeps my brain active and my attention is always on.


How would you describe London’s art scene?

London’s art scene is amazing! There’s always something new to see or experience. There are so many galleries I love to visit regularly, some incredible street art and fun events or pop ups to attend. It’s a city that always feels buzzy and creative, I mostly hang out in East London, where there’s so much going on.


And what do you do to chill out in such an ever-changing environment?

As I said, I visit a lot of galleries and love a long walk in the park to clear my mind! I also love a pint or two, with friends, in one of the thousands of old pubs in the city.


You’ve collaborated with several, important realities (such as The Grammy’s, Converse and The Billboard Music Awards), but what project are you most proud of?

I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with some incredible brands over the last few years and on some really amazing projects. The work I’m most proud of has to be a recent collaboration with Dior to create a series of GIPHY stickers for their Resort 19 Collection. I used elements from their reimagined ‘Toile de Jouy’ print and created the suite of stickers, which is now live on Instagram Stories. Dior is a brand I’ve always looked to and admired, so to be able to work on something like this was a total dream.


If you had to pick one garment from your ‘going-out wardrobe’, what would that one garment be?

I’d have to say my pair of custom ‘New Balanciaga’ shoes, which are (as they sound) a mix of New Balance and Balenciaga sneakers. Initially, they were something I designed as a meme and posted on my Instagram profile, calling them out as the ‘Ultimate dad shoe’. They ended up having a few articles written about them and then, out of the blue, someone got in touch and created a real life pair for me, which I wear a lot, I’m pretty obsessed with them.


You've built a very large Instagram following. Which is your most liked post?

My most liked post by numbers is the ‘Meryl Street’ image, which has now around 16K likes.


And what’s your most treasured possession?

Can I have two? Happiness and the freedom to be creative.


Last but not least, what do you hope for the future?

There’s no plan! I’ve never had one, I’m just enjoying the journey. As long as I’m still being creative and exploring, then I don’t mind at all!


image with artdirection
image with artdirection

I like to think there are no hidden messages in my work. There are always subtle nods, puns and a combination of word and image play, which maybe take a moment to register, but I try to make sure what I do is just as accessible as possible. When I started my page, it was meant as an antidote to what I thought at the time was quite an inaccessible industry, fashion. Obviously, times have moved on and I don’t think that’s so much the case anymore, but I think bridging that gap between high and low brow still has a place, and if nothing else, I certainly enjoy doing it.

Shop The Selection

Alexander McQueen

Leather bomber jacket

Burberry

Cotton t-shirt with embroidered logo

Gucci

Leather card holder with GG detail

Givenchy

5 pockets slim fit jeans

Giuseppe Zanotti

High-top leather sneakers with chain detail

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