Jeffrey Smith was born on April 9,1956 in Montebello, California.
He studied photography and commercial art at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Using his trade school portfolio he entered the Art Center College Of Design.
There he met his first real mentor, Philip Harrison Hays, and executed 12 Mexican Album covers with Hays for the ubiquitous art director, Roger Black.
In 1979, Smith received an Award of Merit student prize from the Society Of Illustrators in New York, and attended The Illustrators Workshop in Tarrytown, N. Y. Smith, achieved full scholarship at Art Center, earned a BFA degree and graduated in 1980 with honors.
Six months after graduating from Art Center, Smith moved from Los Angeles to Croton on Hudson, N. Y. In his first year, Smith executed cover assignments for New York and Time magazines, and illustrations for Redbook, Inside Sports, and Book of the Month.
In 1982, Smith apprenticed with his second major influence, James McMullan. “Besides the fact that I learned a great deal about watercolor from both men, Jim really encouraged me to make credible images that told a story." It was also at this time that he met and worked with poster artist Paul Davis.
After that, there was a steady stream of assignments. And in 1985, Fred Woodward asked Jeff to create 6 full-page murder illustrations for Texas Monthly magazine.
Smith attended the School Of Visual Arts as a full scholarship student, and began teaching with James McMullan in the undergraduate program at that same time. While attending the MFA program, Smith met visiting lecturer and art director Robert Priest.
Priest commissioned Smith to paint Mikhail Gorbachev for the cover of Newsweek magazine.
Today, Smith is a full time Professor at the Art Center College of Design, where he has taught since 1994.
He is also a freelance illustrator, and his work continues to thrive. He has won numerous awards from CA, the New York Society Of Illustrators, Print, the A.I.G.A., the Society Of Newspaper Design, The Society Of Publication Designers, and the University & College Designers Association.
His clients include Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New York Times, The New York Times magazine and New York magazines, to name a few. Smiths’ work consistently appears in American Illustration and The Society Of Illustrators in New York, where Smith received a Gold medal in 2004.