Jack Smith: Youth on the Rise

Jack Smith | 18

JACK SMITH PAINTINGS
Education: Highland Park High School

Jack Smith made $100 when he was a child by selling a painting he made to a friend of his parents.
That’s not chump change for an elementary student, and at an early age, Jack knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. Or, continue doing immediately.

“The business just sort of fell into my lap,” he said. “It really snowballed when I began having art shows.”

Now officially a professional artist – he recently turned 18 – the Blue Print Gallery represents Jack in Uptown for his sculpture work, keeping a portion of the proceeds. He also regularly provides commissioned paintings for individuals in and around Dallas.

Jack also said his paintings are usually requested by clients that want to hang them in their offices or homes. For other orders, he has a printmaker who scans his paintings to sell.

Many clients request specific types of paintings, but more often than not, Jack creates the pieces all on his own.

“While commissions comprise a large portion of my revenue, I would say more often than not I sell paintings that were not commissioned by anyone but came from my own head,” he said. “Every artist is different in technique, style, and taste. My business is unique because my artwork is unique to me.”
Recently, Jack had what he called the most successful art show of his young career:

In October, Blue Print sold 100 percent of his sculptures and, he estimates, 75 percent of his paintings.

“I had been working for months on finishing all the pieces and getting prints made, and the show was a massive success,” Jack said.

As a high school student working full-time on art, scheduling conflicts can make things tricky – not to mention, the day-to-day activities that come with being an 18-year-old. Jack still has homework, always goes to school, and still lives with his parents. But, he said, the ability to interact with adults and work in “the real world” has been exciting – a challenge he embraces.

“I don’t really notice the age gap between my clients and me,” he said. “I have done business for thousands of dollars and even tens of thousands of dollars with careered adults throughout high school. I will say that running my own business while I am still a student has its challenges. While my peers are playing video games or relaxing, I work in my studio, organize, and price inventory, and talk to clients. But I would say I rather enjoy doing business with mature adults because it provides me experience in the real world of business, and [offers] experience in cultivating professional relationships.”

Q: What advice would you give yourself?

A: I am still learning all kinds of lessons from my failures and anxieties. I often find myself bogged down in worry about my future, and I seem to forget sometimes that the best cure to mental pain is prayer and family. In times of worry and pain, I ask Christ to walk with me and guide my life in his image.

Q: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

A: I have sold artwork consistently for many years as an individual. I have had to file tax returns and construct a business system for my commissions. While I was in high school I completed my largest single commission for the offices of ABM AMRO; this job was a heavy time commitment and required site visits and movers to complete. The commission was comprised of three large panels over 8ft wide/tall. The result was a success and the pieces still hang in their offices today. Art commissions are not necessarily a scalable business structure since nothing can be or should be efficiently replicated as a product. That being said the ABM AMRO installation was my first glimpse into large scale big money projects. I would say I learned how to interact with a customer and form business relationships. I have found it rather odd dealing with careered adults and doing business for many thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars while I was a minor and even as an 18-year-old. From a development standpoint, I would agree that these dealings have matured my understanding of the business practice and the world at large at a young age.

Q: Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

A: After I earn my mechanical engineering degree from Duke University I plan to attend business school and earn a Masters in Business Administration. Ultimately I see myself as an entrepreneur and I believe the best way to get there is to master the skills of a technical degree and the skills of business education. I would like to maintain my art business as a hobby after my collegiate education. I want to go on to do big things in business and investing perhaps in the art world but perhaps elsewhere too. I have a bright outlook on my own future but only God knows what will come tomorrow so all I can do is pray for his guidance and strive for excellence in everything I put my hands on.

Q: What was your “lightbulb moment” that lead you to your career?

A: When I sold my first painting as a young child for 100 dollars, I knew then that I wanted to pursue a life as an artist and businessman. Since that time I haven’t lost any of my drive of turning my passion into profit.

Q: Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

A: I would say I’m in the midst of developing my leadership skills right now, and the one I am finding most challenging is delegating. I have a difficult time relinquishing control of projects to others. For anything I do, I always have a very specific image of what I want and how it should be done. I have an immense drive to set goals and reach them and trusting other people to help me in that process is something I am working on.

Q: What do you love about the Park Cities or Preston Hollow community and why?

A: The Park Cities has provided me an extremely supportive community of friends and clients that I really don’t think other neighborhoods can match. The close-knit community of the Park Cities is something that I can greatly appreciate as community values seem to be dwindling in this time. I would say that my current success was entirely built on the support of my community.

Q: What is your favorite local store?

A: The Home Depot

Q: Where is the best place in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for a power lunch – what do you order?

A: Royal Blue Grocery; The Italian Sandwich

Q: If there was ONE thing that you could change or improve in the community, what would it be?

A: I wouldn’t change anything.

Q: If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

A: “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” by Alex Epstein; I read this book last year as part of an environmental study in school and it provides a fascinating side to a topical government and societal issues. I think everyone should read it.

Q: If someone made a movie of your life, what would the title be and who would play you?

A: I think the title would be “The Business of Art,” I have no idea who I would want to play me.

Q: If we looked at your social media accounts, what would we learn about you?

A: You would probably be able to guess that I love golf, which is true. Based on who I follow you would also learn that I love classical architecture, construction, and politics.

Q: What, to date, has been your most impressive or rewarding accomplishment in both your professional and personal life?

A: I would say my most impressive accomplishment is my acceptance to Duke University. Duke’s acceptance rate for the class of 2023 came in at 7 percent, an all-time record low for the school. My acceptance is not only a great accomplishment but I believe it will lead me to bigger and more significant accomplishments as I will be given a chance to study alongside some of the brightest students in the world.

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