Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith’s childhood “playing” with drawing became “serious” during his years studying for an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. After several years of poster and album cover design, he apprenticed as an illustrator of Sheree Fitch’s republished books of children’s poetry (2010-2012) and soon received national and international recognition for the urban energy of his books such as Sidewalk Flowers in 2015 and Small in the City in 2019; both were recipients of the Governor General’s Literacy Award for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books.

His illustrations for The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart (2016), Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz (2017), and I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott (2020) have also earned attention and accolades, including the CILIP Kate Greenway Medal in 2018 for Town is by the Sea, and a BBC reading by singer Ed Sheeran of I Talk Like a River.

Through his illustrations, whether for a light-hearted story like Sidewalk Flowers or the more anguished story of a boy who stutters in I Talk Like a River¸ he is able to express complex and possibly unsettling emotions but also respect for the reader, whether child or adult, who feels those emotions. He uses a variety of techniques but most often ink and brush.