By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
If you have ever played Halo or Halo 2 or experienced The Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeons and Dragons, you are experiencing the contributing conceptual artwork of one Eddie Smith.
Smith, an illustrator and concept designer, was chosen to design this year’s cover page for the Seattle Medium Newspaper’s Juneteenth Edition.
This year’s Juneteenth celebration is historic as it has been officially declared a state holiday here in Washington state and several other states, as the Biden administration followed the lead of these courageous states and made Juneteenth a federal holiday.
With this historic moment in mind, the first time that Juneteenth will be an official paid holiday for state employees in Washington state, Chris B. Bennett, Publisher/CEO of The Seattle Medium Newspaper, knew that the Seattle Medium’s 2022 Juneteenth edition and its cover needed to meet the moment, and he sought out Smith to utilize his skillsets to do just that.
“Eddie is one of the best in the business,” says Bennett. “He is very talented and can take a very vague concept and turn it into something very special, and that is what he did with this year’s cover.”
Smith’s design for this year’s celebration is layered with intricate detail, and shows off Smith’s talent. From his photoshop layering to selection process, these are conceptual and program terms, it is clear that the time and effort Smith puts into his work is an indication of the commitment he has for his craft.
Looking at the art piece the detail in the lighting, the blending, the layering and the additives is amazing. With the image of the official Juneteenth flag stretched across the evening sky above the state capital building as the backdrop, the piece is rich in substance and detail. The piece also shows three flag staffs in front of the state capital building with the national, state and Juneteenth flags waving atop of them, and the building is illuminated with Afrocentric lighting between its pillars.
His blending of Rep. Melanie Morgan, Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. John Lovick, who were all instrumental in bringing this holiday into fruition, gives the piece an encompassing tribute to the efforts of those responsible for this designation.
“I am an illustrator, I am a concept designer, I can draw, paint,” says Smith. “Everything you see on this piece I can draw and paint this by hand and to the layman one can be a graphic designer yet not be able to draw or paint, that is one of the fundamental differences between the two. In this instance, I use photoshop and I used blending in my composite and then utilized my natural painting skills.”
In collaboration with The Seattle Medium, Smith in a humbled statement deflects his creative mindset to working together as a team to come up with ideas.
“Honestly, I give a lot of credit to Chris, Publisher of the Seattle Medium, he had the idea,” says Smith. “As a conceptual artist I helped him visualize it. He had ideas of what he wanted to include but wasn’t sure how to compose it and what I did was use what I know how to do to help him do that.”
As his work adorns the cover Smith reveals his motivations.
“I am here to provide production quality, mainstream level art to the Black community,” says Smith. “A lot of people are not aware that there are Black people like me that exist in the commercial art industry.”
Smith’s motivation for the project were also fueled by the significance of this holiday.
“The importance of Juneteenth, the opportunity to do this piece, not at the risk of being too simplistic, it represents simply the freedom of Black people from slavery, that is one of those types of significance that speaks for itself.”
“As a Black man, I just like to be able to lend, or tie in mainstream commercial quality to Black media, something that would be on par with the likes of CNN or the Seattle Times or any other outlet would employ,” concluded Smith.
Smith, who specializes in sci-fi fantasy art, will be hosting and showcasing his own art at this year’s Festival Sundiata.