Stephan J. Smith
Owner, Maker, Designer, Curator, Airship Maker, Master Of Re-purposing!
I began my journey into art as a graphic designer, but always had a love for putting objects together. Though I do many things to earn a living, my passion is sculpting with paper and other found objects.
Making Art from “Stuff”
I’m a big fan of using recycled bulk materials or pieces and parts that were designed for one use, then reused as is, but in a totally different way. The steampunk zeppelin here uses both. The “inflatable” portion of the sculpture is papier mache, and therefore recycles newspaper and cardboard, whereas the gondola portion uses both mache and repurposed plastic pieces and parts from my kids’ old toys, as well as packaging pieces, caps and old wire. Even the propeller on the zeppelin is old wooden parts of toys, as well as paperboard and plastic pieces that were salvaged. I’ve always been interested in taking materials that would otherwise have been thrown away and kept them out of the landfill by making pieces of beautiful art from them. For me, this makes my projects twice as satisfying!
The picture shows a close up of the gondola of my Steampunk Zeppelin. If you look closely, you can see that the pieces on it are made of plastic and cardboard and wire that I saved. These are things that would have otherwise been thrown in the trash!
Journey to Dr. of Steampunk
I am a 1983 honors graduate of Ferris State University (Ferris State College, then!), where I majored in Graphic Design. I then worked in ad agencies and design firms for many years, doing all things graphic, which then morphed into design using computers (and all THAT entails!). I’m also a Doctor of Chiropractic by trade, though art is always on my mind. From those original beginnings in graphics and design, as time went on, my interest shifted to more dimensional art in various forms. I currently focus on paper, including cut paper sculpture and handcast paper, but with an emphasis on mache. I also have a special love for recycling materials that would have otherwise gone into the trash. Many of my papier mache projects wind up using pieces and parts of plastic, metal or wood that came from packaging, manufacturing or scrap.
Stephan J. Smith is the artist and sculptor known as Dr. Steampunk at Artsmith Craftworks in Swartz Creek, MI. Using recycled and re-purposed materials, Stephan builds a myriad of sculpted wonders, including fantastic and whimsical steampunk airships that have amazed and delighted fans for years. A passion for reusing and up-cycling found items into beautiful and amazing art is what drives Stephan to make art that both teaches and inspires. Stephan also does commissioned work and is available to do talks and classes on re-purposing/up-cycling and may be reached at ArtSmithCraft@yahoo.com or at 810-516-7381.