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The Artist’s Hand: The story of up-and-coming Virgin Islander, Shakir Smith



It’s funny to imagine that a hobby you grew to love as a child can grow into your passion and future once you head out into the real world. Shakir Smith is in the midst of this. This 19-year old Crucian, hailing from Whim, is a student at the Columbus College of Art and Design and has a talent for art that many would dream of.

Shakir battles with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, an abnormality of the kidneys. As a young child, he spent a lot of his time in doctor’s offices and at the hospital. His mom, Denise Jackson, gave him drawing books and comics to pass the time. She found that her son took to drawing and attempted to draw everything from the comic characters to the space around him. She saw that he had potential and from the age of 4, his family has been encouraging him to develop his talents. He hasn’t stopped drawing since. Would you believe he has kept every single drawing book from the age of four? A great reminder of how a dream can grow.

Throughout his childhood, Shakir grew his interest in art by doodling, art classes, and workshops. Most notably, he attended the Art Summer Program hosted by local artist and gallery owner, Danica David. Every summer, he was able to expand his horizons, learning different art forms, such as acrylics, oil, watercolor, and drawing. With a great support system of family and mentors, Shakir was able to strengthen his artistic abilities and grow his passion.

Coming into high school, for a short period of time Shakir lost interest in drawing and art. Drawing just wasn’t cool. Lucky for him, he had a mother that kept him in check. She reminded him that his art would help him create a career for himself. Shakir became focused once again. He decided that he wanted to study art in college. His art teacher at Central High School, Ms. Benjamin, reiterated the importance of constantly developing the basics.

Today, Shakir attends college in Columbus, Ohio. His focus is on conceptual and environmental art. He plans on working in video game design creating the backgrounds and environments that the characters live in. As well as doing commercial art projects for local businesses and organizations in the Virgin Islands. Nevertheless, he takes the opportunity to learn art form that he can. He wants to be a jack-of-all-trades. He has studied photography, oil painting, render art, digital art, sketching, (colored pencils), and so much more. Shakir finds inspiration from St. Croix and puts a little bit of home in each of his pieces. He finds it important to inform people about the beautiful colors and natural features of his home.

So what has Shakir learned as an aspiring artist? What advice can he give others like himself? 1. Listen to your elders and your mentors. They are not here to make you stray, but to focus. They care. 2. Share your experience and knowledge with others. We all have a responsibility to build each other up, rather than tearing each other down. Lastly, Don’t stop trying. Take your sketchbook with you. Draw Everyday. Draw what you see. Draw things for the shape. Draw. Draw. Draw.

This young man has a bright future ahead of him, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of his work very soon. Just remember, it all started with a drawing book and now his possibilities are endless.


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