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Meet Artist Gentry Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gentry Smith.

Gentry, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to Los Angeles in 2001 for USC Film School. While pursuing a writing and directing career, I found my way into audio post-production, eventually becoming a Re-Recording Mixer for reality TV shows at Bunim-Murray Productions. At the same time, I was creating digital artwork for myself and doing occasional graphic design for hire, including posters and album covers. My background in illustration, sculpture, and photography led me to the technique of manipulating photos with layers of drawing to create the feel of something that’s not quite a painting, but not quite a photo.

The most exciting part of the process for me is blending the drawing with the photograph – that’s when the model ceases to be the model and becomes the character, their world becomes cohesive, and when the “real” is truly transformed into the fantastical.

I began reading Tarot in 2006, always with the mindset of creating my own interpretation of the deck one day. The richness of the symbol set of the traditional Tarot deck intrigued me – how can 78 images work together to describe every facet of the human experience? And how can I re-envision those images to resonate more strongly for myself and anyone who picks up the deck?

Has it been a smooth road?
I began my Tarot series in 2008 and it will take years to complete all seventy-eight images needed for a full deck. For now, I’m tackling each of them when they call to me – either because of something I’m going through in my life or because I met the perfect model for the image.

As a father with a full-time job, the biggest challenge in creating the Tarot images has, of course, been time. Each image can take up to a week to create: there’s usually a shoot with a model, plus gathering and assembling the raw images needed for the digital collage, then a day spent sketching the layers of illustration (one for shadows, the others for highlights,) and then the final consolidation of the image.

With the deck a long way from completion, for now, I’m trying to give the images their own individual lives. Each are 16″x9″ and have been displayed in a handful of galleries and featured at Open Show LA. Limited edition prints are available in my Etsy shop.

What is the most difficult part of what you do?
The hardest thing for me is “the dance” of balancing personal creation, pay-the-bills work and family – most importantly, remembering to keep it light and fun, like a dance should be.

How do you define success?
I feel most rewarded when something I created touches someone in their core, either helping them discover a truth about themselves or find closure in some part of their lives. When I can support my family with those personal creations, that won’t just be success – it’ll be heaven!

So, what should we be on the lookout for, what’s next in store for you?
It may still take years to finish my Tarot series, but I hope that the perspective and growth I gain will make my images richer and more resonant. Until then, “the dance” goes on.


  • Limited edition prints available on Etsy — $70

Contact Info:

0-Gentry-Smith_Five-of-Swords 1-Gentry-Smith_Three-of-Cups 2-Gentry-Smith_Ace-of-Cups 3-Gentry-Smith_Three-of-Wands 4-Gentry-Smith_Two-of-Wands 5-Gentry-Smith_Two-of-Coins

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