By Daryl Jones
Fucking with a kids lego® is akin to keying a dudes car, and is widely known in boylaw as an unforgivable offence.
When I was a youngster I was an expert Lego® spaceship builder, and also dabbled in Pirates, Knights and Race Cars from time to time. I had a mate called Sam who, being a 7 year old boy, was into Lego® too. For young blokes, that’s about all you need to have in common for the deepest of friendships to blossom. But every time he came over to play after school, certain Legomen would mysteriously disappear. Nevertheless, my innocent young mind never managed to put two and two together. It wasn’t ’til about 20 years later that Sam, now known the world over as ‘Smug‘; the greatest photo-realistic graffiti writer to ever walk the planet, finally confessed to being the dirty stinking criminal responsible for the crime. And if he thinks that being an artistic genius, inspiring and enthralling millions of people with his incredible talent will make me forget, he’s got another thing coming…
Despite his criminal past, Sam Bates, AKA ‘Smug’ is actually a super nice dude, and super chilled when it comes to talking about his amazing skillz. Even back in 2nd grade he was already an awesome artist compared to the rest of us; the kid up the back always drawing, no matter what the class happened to be. I can’t remember the names of my teachers but I can still remember scribbles he drew in my schoolbooks.
It wasn’t until after high school that he traded paper for bricks and pencils for spray cans and took his art to wall, discovering the graffiti culture that he has since taken to a whole new level.
Using nothing but spray cans, Smug is able to produce a level of stylised photorealism that is unsurpassed. He manages the difficult combination of producing highly technical pieces that are somehow still playful, edgy and cheeky.
“I just paint because I love it, and with every piece I do I just try and push my skills and further my ability and try and create something better than the last.”
Keep an eye out, though originally from the humble town of Nowra, in NSW, Australia, you can now spot his work adorning buildings all over the world.
You’ll often know you’re looking at a Smugshot by the distinctive eery coloured glow that bathes half the face of his subjects.