While Smith works across different mediums, including drawing and ceramics, her murals have long intersected with fashion. Her trompe l’oeil illustrations have appeared in familiar places, including in the downtown-beloved vintage store James Veloria, which boasts a mural with a marble wall and Grecian urns illustrated by Smith, while a dreamy surrealist scene appears in the store owners Brandon Giordano and Collin Weber’s own apartment. Smith started to segue into clothing while living in Barcelona in 2019 and experimenting with one-off pieces. “I was working with different vintage cotton pieces that I was thrifting and adding a natural pigmentation process,” she tells Vogue over the phone. There, she began using natural pigments, including some she found locally and another that her roommate had bought in Morocco, to paint her signature designs on them.
Smith’s dreamy denim illustrations, which portray swirly patterns and mythological characters, harkens back to her Greek Orthodox roots. “I’m always drawn to like angelic imagery. Sometimes, I’m just making up these little stories as I go.” Currently, Smith uses a slew of natural dyes, including indigo and earth pigments mixed with soy milk, which creates a permanent mark on the denim. While washing painted clothing is sometimes a no-no, Smith notes that in this case, water furthers embeds the paint but after time, gives a satisfying worn and faded look, which she compares to “an old tattoo on weathered skin.” So far, Smith only works on vintage Levi 501, 550s, and the label’s silver tab version.
Smith strives to build a community with her designs. She photographed her friends Les Fernandez and Miles Chick, who launched a resale platform called Socialite, in front of her mural backdrop, as well as Garbiella Ortiz and Sebastião Hungerbühle of the creative studio Inspografic, and model Alvina Bokhari. In the future, Smith is planning on expanding beyond denim to create painted shirts with proceeds that will go to bolster local food equity resources. According to Smith, it’s been a way to connect with others, and later wrote. “This project has been a special way for my work to extend outward to my community.”