Eric Smith is a graphic designer, illustrator, optimist, and overall, a genuinely wholehearted person. Along with being a talented designer and a good guy, he’s also a great collaborator. He started the Live Now project, a community of happiness, which will be publishing it’s first book in April.

How did the idea of the Live Now community begin?
Live Now began as a method of healing after I was diagnosed with cancer awhile back. It has rippled out and turned into something much bigger than I could have dreamed of. I’m nothing but grateful to be a part of this.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this adventure is that true happiness isn’t for yourself – but to overflow and share with everyone around you.

Can you speak a little about what you’re trying to accomplish with the Live Now project?

We have started a movement – spreading our message of happiness and presence through multiple avenues. Examples include; artwork, literature, relationships, exhibitions and much more.

What have you learned from publishing the Live Now book?
The publishing process really came together on it’s own. This is one of those ideas that is much bigger than me. Im just along for the ride – gratefully!

HOW posted an article on their blog about the project. We then connected via email and discussed the idea that this project would make a great book. From there we began collaborating on the details, working on the art, art direction, copywriting, etc.

HOW has been incredible to work with and I want to thank them completely. Without their efforts and shared passion for this idea we wouldn’t be where we are today. A big thank you to all the collaborators as well, your hard work genuinely means a lot to me.

How important is community and collaboration for you and your work?
I really enjoy collaboration. We all bring our own experiences and beliefs to the table – which is then reflected in how we communicate visually. If we can knit together our strengths – then our work will only get stronger.

What is your driving force, what is it you want to say with the work you are putting into the world?

My driving force is the belief that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. That life is about investing in people and relationships. My life, my message, is that we all deserve to live an intentional life – filled with happiness and full of purpose.

What materials do you use for your work? How does the balance of pencil and mouse work for you? Do you think it’s beneficial to not be bound to the computer and experiment with more fine art materials in design work?
I use all kinds of materials, and constantly experiment. A few stand byes include; graphite(pencils and sticks), fine point ink pens, and watercolor.

All of my work starts analog – in my journal with my favorite #3 pencil. I’ve found it most successful to work through initial ideas away from my computer with my hands and open mind. I recommend this practice to everyone – the computer has many distractions and limitations.

I strive to use technology as a tool, rather than an answer. (Inspired by the great Mr. Picasso)

What designers/illustrators influence you today?

A big part of what inspires me is how other creatives carry themselves. Steven Harrington is a favorite of mine. I’ve talked with him a few times and he’s very mellow, open and present. My friend Will Bryant is always inspiring me. His optimism is contagious and it shines through in his work. Fellow Westsider Gavin Potenza is another – so good, so humble.

What advice do you have for design students that are just starting their design educations and ones that are about to graduate and go into the real world to start their design careers?
Get an Internship
Real world experience, contacts, build your portfolio – it’s good all the way around.

Find a Mentor
Reach out to fellow creatives you admire, tell them your story and keep in touch with them regularly.

Passion Projects
Start an ongoing passion project that you can use to balance your client work and feed your desire to create.

Offer up pro-bono work to a company you’d like to work with as a way to connect and show genuine interest.

Don’t work too much. Balance work with other things you love. Travel, gain new experiences, then bring them back into your work and never stop growing.

Dream client or job? Worst client experience?
My dream client(s) are good people, doing something they believe in. As far as industry goes, I’ve always been interested in working with skate and bmx companies.

I’ve had some tough experiences in my career. My best advice for these struggles are to find the best in every situation. Find something good and hold onto it.

Do you wear patterned/designed socks, plain socks or no socks?
I wear thick, multi-color, wool socks – a Pacific Northwest favorite.

Thanks for the interview Bijan, keep up the cool work!

Below are some images from the upcoming Live Now Book being published by HOW.

Below are some examples of Eric’s work.