Charles Smith II Dives Into Finding Your Why
Updated: Apr 4
Earlier this year our Podcast host, Cabus, sat down with Charles Smith II, the creative behind SMITH II. Due to a last-minute opportunity, this episode became a virtual interview from Dallas, Texas to Paris, France. Although Charles couldn’t be with us in person, he dropped plenty of gems for any aspiring designer or creative in general. Read on for what we cover in Episode 23 with Charles Smith II on the Artist Uprising Podcast. Our new video format is now on YouTube where we take you into the studio for a front-row seat in these conversations. As always the full episodes are available on Spotify and Apple Music.
"Because as a designer, as a creative it never turns off even if you are trying to.. I'm always going to find something that inspires me".
Charles and Cabus kick off the episode by diving into where he is, why he's there, and how collaborating on projects is about trust and respect. Although Charles was in a beautiful city, this was by no means a vacation for him. "Because as a designer, as a creative it never turns off even if you are trying to.. I'm always going to find something that inspires me". Being present and away from his phone is one of Charles' methods to find inspiration wherever he goes. Another big inspiration? Music. Charles touches on how cool and fun it is for him to feel the contrast of listening to D-Town Boogie when walking the streets of France or playing German songs on the runway in Dallas.
Ever since Charles decided to pursue design, he has unapologetically followed his own style and vision, never rushing the process. In fact, his vision has been so clear that he sees exactly where he will end up. His journey and mentors have allowed him to understand the undertaking he was going to take as a designer, and how to move with it. Those mentors include Azzedine Alaïa who taught him "if you don't have anything to say, you don't have anything to design". Charles finds it important to align with where the community's hearts and spirits are at the time to give them what they need and being open to redirecting when shifts like the Black Lives Matter movement come up.
photo of Azzedine Alaïa
Charles encourages people to design to their own instinct and for the people who really want to buy it versus creating for the masses. This is how you create community and cultivate it. "When you stay true to what you feel, what you design, what your output is, you will find your way to the masses". By being true and open to his people in life and on social media, Charles hopes his following feels a little less alone.
"There's no guide for understanding how to be famous or certain levels of attention when you are talented".
Discipline is key in following the path to get where you want to be. "There's no guide for understanding how to be famous or certain levels of attention when you are talented". Charles emphasizes the importance of having a still body, mind, and spirit so you are able to understand the noise around you, but also knowing when to invite it in. Being a designer is so much more than design - it's a business. It's imperative to understand the steps, the people, the voice, the business, the dedication, what needs to be said - making sure it's different than everything else out there, but most importantly, what your why is.
photo provided by Charles Smith II
Charles leaves us off on one key thing, not being prisoners of our output. "It's okay to burn the whole ship down and start over. That's a big thing that stands in people's way. Just because we put something out on social media. You can't be such a prisoner of your output. We become prisoners of what we posted once it's out there as if we can't delete it and start over". Allowing ourselves the freedom it starts over, gives you more creative expression.
Check out the Artist Uprising podcast to listen to the full conversation with Charles Smith II and other interviews with creatives from across the country. To follow Charles, follow him on Instagram and his website.