I started drawing and painting at an early age and continued all the way through college. I received my Associates Degree in Studio Art from Reinhardt College (now Reinhardt University) and my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with a concentration in Drawing and Painting from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!!).
As a lifelong martial artist, fighters are definitely my favorite subject for portraits. I try to bring out the personality and humanity of the fighters I draw, rather than just the “tough-guy-making-a-fist” approach that people expect of anything related to MMA. For more on my approach, check out this article based on an interview I did over at IronForgesIron.com about my work.
UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre and JM after a class at Renzo Gracie Academy
Ricardo Almeida with a piece his wife commissioned from JM depicting one of his surfing adventures
The only way to describe this man’s abilities to draw is “he is a Red Belt in the art” -Renzo Gracie,
Brazilian Jiujitsu/MMA legend
Giving some prints to UFC vet Justin Wren
It is an honor to be represented in such an artistic way. Your hand captures the true essence of Martial Artists. To be among them I am very appreciative!
-Dave Camarillo Creator of Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu, American Kickboxing Academy
Art of the Dojo’s favorite WMMA fighter, and original portrait inspiriation Felice “Li’l Bulldog” Herrig!
Renzo Gracie black belt Paul Creighton with JM’s Helio portrait hanging in his academy
The way he drew me was very nice and really real! JM, God gave you a such great talent man. Thank you so much and you can draw me anytime man. The best thing is: You gave Your talent to the One who gave the talent to you–”The Creator.” Awesome! Andre Galvao
ADCC World Champion 2011 absolute and -88kg
Former UFC Welterweight champ Matt Serra approves!
UFC Legend Royce Gracie with a print of his portrait
I’m honored to been drawn by JM. I feel like his art captures more than a typical portrait-it shows the spirit of the fighter as well! -Julie Kedzie, Fighter, Jackson/Winklejohn MMA
Olympic Wrestling icon Dan Gable with his portrait
The picture is amazing and really captured my fighter spirit. The best part is JM poured his heart and soul into the portrait. Thank you for taking time to include in into your passion.
-Michelle Waterson Fighter, Jackson/Winklejohn MMA
Thank you note JM received from the legendary “Judo” Gene LeBell
All great human achievement is born from passion. Among the greatest sources of passion across all cultures, and through the ages, is faith. Another is art. Yet another is martial arts. James-Michael Smith is lofted by a unique love for all three.
Where an ordinary fight fan sees the surface – and fighting offers a mighty surface – JM sees deeper, and brings it to light. From founders like Jigoro Kano and Carlos Gracie, to legends like Renzo Gracie and Muhammad Ali, to stars like Jon Jones and Marloes Coenen, Smith captures an essence.
As a proud owner of his work, I could not recommend his work higher.
Brazilian Jiujitsu royalty and fan of great art, Renzo Gracie!
Art of the Dojo’s portraits really capture the essence of the martial artists, their passion for the art and their intensity. I have a signed portrait of my teacher, Renzo Gracie, and it hangs in a prominent spot in my school. Karel Parvec (aka. Silver Fox), Renzo Gracie Black Belt; Silver Fox Brazilian Jiujitsu
Jiujitsu and Judo champion and world-class trainer Dave Camarillo knows his roots!
I also do private commission pieces in order to help fund Disciple Dojo. If you are interested in commissioning a piece, don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact page. Pricing varies depending on size, media, detail, composition and complexity. But since I absolutely detest pretentiousness among artists (which didn’t make me very popular in art school! Haha!) I can assure you that what I charge is quite reasonable compared to original custom artwork.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12