"I like fusing design, art and architecture — you feel more in charge. You can make stuff more attractive, more environmentally effective, and it's good," said Jeremy Smallwood '00 in the summer 2001 edition of Drury magazine. Ten years later, Smallwood has eliminated "good" and "stuff " from his professional vocabulary, but he still feels the same passion for the art field as he did upon graduation.
Smallwood's interest in design emerged as early as high school. After seeing an Absolut Vodka print advertisement that inspired his imagination and ignited a desire to design, he soon enrolled as a studio art major at Drury. Four years later, he found himself entering Portfolio Center (PC) in Atlanta, one of the most prestigious design schools in the country. He began working as a designer at LB Works in Chicago right after graduation.
Throughout school, Smallwood had always embraced design as his central interest, but upon entering the professional world, he began to warm toward the field of art direction: an area he had previously rejected studying. Advertising surrounded Smallwood while he designed logos and trademarks for LB Works. This exposure to a career path he was once so reluctant to explore piqued his curiosity about the hectic world of advertising. "
When Leo Burnett absorbed LB Works, Smallwood finally made the leap from designer to art director. Currently, he works as a creative director for mcgarrybowen in Chicago. Though his field of work has radically changed, Smallwood feels that, "creating is really the career path I have chosen in the end. Design and art direction really come down to that. They are wonderful disciplines that rely on the power of an idea and ultimately its proper execution."
Not only is Smallwood a talented artist in his own right, but his work has been acclaimed on the international stage as well. Among his many awards, he has won the coveted Grand Kelly Award for the Best Print Ad in North America. Still in his early thirties, he is one of the most awarded art directors in the world.
To anyone interested in entering the design industry, Smallwood advises, "Never underestimate where you can go, what you can do, who you can be. And always walk through that door that opens in front of you, it could lead somewhere really unexpected. And adventure always begins with the unexpected."
Megan Waterman is an English and writing major and student assistant in the Office of Alumni & Development.