Jed Smith Interview: Creative Marketing Exec Thrives in Italy as Artist
Diana Landau | October 10, 2023
This month Carl chats with Jed Smith, a former top marketing exec who worked with brands all over the country, including Athleta, where he was the Senior Creative Director, before making his next big move 10 years ago--to Italy. Jed has embraced (un)retirement as a very accomplished artist and photographer. He is also the author of the recently released book "Under the Oak with Agnes."
Jed spent his growing up years in Columbia, South Carolina. His father was a nuclear engineer and his mother was an artist and art teacher. "She really brought out my love of art and expression......I am so grateful for that." As a teen in Clemson, Jed says he didn't feel confident then and wasn't sure about his place in the world. Everything came together for him in college when he entered University of Georgia's School of Graphic Design.
Jed studied art abroad during college in Cortona, Italy. "I wasn't prepared for how it blew me away!" Living in Italy ignited a hunger in him to one day live in a different country and culture. Through his career, Jed lived in 15 U.S. states. (He adds that his mother always said he was restless.) Years ago, Jed was working on a photo shoot in Italy for Athleta and stayed longer for vacation. Soon he was touring properties with a real estate agent. He'd just sold his home in San Francisco and he decided to buy a home in Italy.
Jed has embraced his (un)retirement life in Italy. In addition to becoming an author, Jed blogs regularly on his Italywise.com about making the transition to living in a new country and wants to help others with adapting to a new culture and language. He also recently launched a new standalone website, Jedsmithart.com for his incredible paintings and photography. "Wake up every day and remember that your ability to create is without limit," he says.
Now 67 and living on the Italian coast, Jed is on the move again--this time to Ragusa, Sicily. "With everything I've learned, it's important to surrender. Show up, do your best, tell the truth and then let go of the outcome!"
Jed Smith's tips on making the leap to a new country and culture:
"Americans don't often understand the flipside of immigration. You can't just waltz into another country. Research and plan as you begin to navigate the process."
"Be careful how you balance the romantic side of your dream with the practical realities."
"Without a command of the language, your experience will be so limited."
"My pet peeve: Don't try to pack up your culture and move, only leaning into what's familiar."
"If you're not feeling a little nervous, you're not taking the committed leap! Demonstrate to the universe that you are serious about the step you're taking."
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the "I Used to be Somebody" blog.