Who is Seraphim Smith?
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Seraphim Smith graduated with degree in painting and a minor in graphic design from Middle Tennessee State University in 2004. He began working in the catering industry, which sparked his interest in the artistry of food.
Smith made his way to North Carolina in 2005. He was attracted to North Carolina’s farm to table movement while helping to establish The Refectory Cafe in Durham. “Farm to table” means that a restaurant sources their ingredients directly from local farms instead of getting their meat and produce shipped in from other parts of the country or around the world. Farm to table restaurants’ local ingredients are harvested at peak freshness and are bursting with flavor.
“The farm to table movement was really strong here in North Carolina, and it had not yet begun in Tennessee. I really loved learning about the different farms,” Smith explained.
After several years in the restaurant world, Smith decided to pursue a culinary degree, and he achieved this goal when he graduated at the top of his class from Alamance Community College in 2013.
Smith desired a way to melt together his three passions: his love of people, his love of food, and his love of art. Smith explained, “I wanted to combine these passions together into a career that is meaningful and makes me want to wake up in the morning.”
Smith was very inspired by chef Vivian Howard, and he got a job working for her amazing restaurant The Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC. By surrounding himself with talented individuals who inspired him, he was able to grow his skills and hone his passion for food artistry. Smith worked his way up and eventually became the marketing director of The Chef and the Farmer and Pride of Kinston, a project focused on downtown revitalization.
How did Smith become an artist?
Smith eventually decided the timing was right to take a leap of faith in his career and become an artist. He started by selling prints of his paintings, then he worked with Magic Mile Printing Company in Kinston to sell dish towels with his food designs. His dish towels are a huge hit! Sales have taken off as people all over the country love his fun vegetable designs. You can snag one of these unique and memorable dish towels on Smith’s website, https://seraphimsmith.com/gift-shop/
How did Smith start painting wall murals?
The City of Kinston issued a revitalization artist grant in 2020. Smith knew this was his opportunity to shine. Out of 240 people who submitted proposals for the grant, Smith was selected! He designed and painted a large okra mural on the corner of Shine and Queen Streets.
Smith loves making things giant, which is why mural painting is the perfect artistic expression for him. He especially likes creating enormous vegetables.
“The thing that I adore about using vegetables and fruits in my art is that there is so much vivid color. I love magenta and bright colors, and I like to make people say ‘Wow!’”
These murals are a fun way to make art interactive. People get to experience the colors and textures in larger than life proportions, and they instantly become ingrained as a vibrant memory. After completing the okra mural in Kinston, Smith was inspired with a new goal: to paint murals all over North Carolina.
How did the Mt. Olive Pickle Mural come to life?
With a charming downtown, large historic buildings that would make perfect mural canvases, and the fame of being the cucumber and pickle capital of the country, Smith knew Mount Olive, NC would be the perfect place for a giant vegetable mural. Smith pitched his idea for a wall mural to the Mount Olive Chamber. The vision started as one giant pickle, and eventually morphed into jars of pickles after meditating on all of the potential design possibilities.
Smith designed the mural and tested several different versions with the help of Photoshop mockups. After carefully selecting his color palette, he decided on a vibrant shade of pink with a tinge of orange as the background color. He selected Madrid Red as the pickle jar shadowing. It’s a dark hot pink with an orange tinge to it which allows a more intense focus on the pickle jars.
Smith was heavily influenced by artist Wayne Thiebaud when it came to the outlining and shadowing of the pickle jars.
“I love his blue shadows. They’re so amazing. Wayne Thiebaud validates how I felt about art. How he is able to make a living painting what he wants to paint.”
Smith started painting the Mt. Olive Pickle mural in July, and it took about three months to complete. His favorite part of the mural is how it showcases so many different varieties and flavors of product, and truly showcases the range and diversity of Mt. Olive products. (At this point, Mt. Olive has nearly 100 products in our product line!)
Smith’s mural is fun, interactive, and engaging. It truly is culmination of his three passions: his love of people, his love of food, and his love of art. People from all over the country have been drawn to the mural and have taken their own pictures and created their own joyful memories from this work of art, and we know the mural will be beloved for decades to come.
The mural is located in downtown Mount Olive. If you’d like to check it out, head to downtown Mount Olive at West Main Street and Central Street.
What is Smith’s favorite Mt. Olive product?
Smith is a huge fan of our Simply Vidalia Pickled Onion Strips.
What’s next for Smith?
Smith has continued to paint murals around North Carolina, including the towns of Kinston, Mount Olive, Durham, Pink Hill, and an upcoming mural in the Town of Clinton.
As for his hopes for the future, Smith told us, “I hope to be able to keep communicating joy with my bold, bright colors.”
We can’t wait to see what cheerful mural Smith cooks up next!!
How to support Smith’s art:
Pickle lovers can snag a special edition dish towel inspired by the Mt. Olive Pickle mural wall on Smith’s website!