Dutch Fork High School grad launches own creative brand
Joshua Smith could spend his first summer after graduation by the pool or hanging out with friends. The Dutch Fork High graduate instead is pushing forward with the launch of a business powered by his own creativity.
Smith finished high school a year ahead of schedule and has turned his focus completely to Soul Canvas, his art and apparel business. He said his unique and colorful ideas came to life and took shape as he studied during interactive classes at Lexington-Richland School District Five’s Center for Advanced Technical Studies.
“At the center, I was able to work with state-of-the-art screen printing equipment, iMacs and editing software. I loved getting hands-on experiences,” he said.
Smith gained new skills by taking graphic design courses that helped him combine his personal designs with the latest technology. Instructor Brynley Farr said she noticed his talent right off the bat.
Farr is a business owner herself and tried to impart not only lessons in design but also how-to examples for students interested in starting a business as Smith did.
“I’m trying to provide them with a unique perspective from a business owner and give them an insight to the challenges you may face,” she said.
Smith was already on his way to creating his own brand even before finishing his classes at the center. He began selling and promoting his art, including jewelry, T-shirts, drawings and more, in high school through social media.
He said courses at in graphic design and entrepreneurship gave him confidence to keep his fledgling operation going.
“At The Center, students like Josh are able to pursue skills that they can take with them into future careers,” said Bob Couch, director of the center. “Our programs provide a pathway for success whether a student is going directly into the workforce, continuing at a technical college or pursuing a four-year degree.”
Smith’s future plans don’t include just expanding Soul Canvas. In addition to working with local 3-D printing companies to fashion some of his more complex geometric designs, Smith wants to convert an older model school bus to run on solar energy and vegetable oil. His vision is to use the refurbished vehicle as an environmentally friendly living and workspace as he travels across the U.S. creating and selling his artwork and apparel.
“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off of a cliff and builds an airplane before they hit the ground. In my case, that airplane was art,” Smith said.