Darden Smith’s multi-media practice encompasses songs, photography, drawing, illustration, video, printmaking, essays and performance. Moving between and combining mediums allows a broader horizon in which to work. His music is rooted in the Texas songwriting traditions, and as such, the power of story, rhythm and a sense of place is prevalent in all his work. In his mind, a piece, whether it’s a song, drawing, photograph or a print, isn’t finished until it sings.
Darden's visual work is influenced by cartoons, line drawings, Karl Blossfeldt’s nature photography, Cy Twombly’s paintings, Francesco Clementi’s watercolors, his quite extensive stamp collection, and what he calls rhythmic visual dissonance – the objects and repeated patterns of our lives. He’s not interested in making an exact replica of what he sees because, as he says, “we already have that.”
As a musician and songwriter, he has released 17 full length albums and toured extensively in the US, UK and Europe. He has composed music for film, TV and dance/theater. Grand Motion, a full evening symphonic work, was commissioned by the Austin Symphony in 1999.
The Habit of Noticing: Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living), his first book, was published in 2018. The expansive project Western Skies (2022) encompasses an album of new music; a spoken word album of essays; a book of photographs, lyrics and writings; lithographs; drawings and video.
Darden's artwork is in private and corporate collections in the US, UK and Europe, as well as the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Collection.