Craig was introduced to fish at a very young age by his late father, who was an avid fisherman. The memories of his dad were that he had a deep love for the sea and the fish he caught. Along with his brother and dad, Craig remembers fishing and backpacking the Cape coast, moving from one fishing spot to the next with just the basic necessities and a small tent, their food had to be caught from the sea. This formed the beginnings of Craig's fascination with the sea and its creatures.
Whether fishing in salt or freshwater, Craig would photograph and sketch the fish he caught, which was fast becoming an obsession. And when he wasn't fishing, wildlife documentaries would be his inspiration.
Craig remembers his love for drawing insects and animals even in primary school finding any excuse to fulfill this urge. He remembers Biology being his favorite subject, where he would take delight in drawing and studying about all sorts of plant and animal in his work books.
Craig was diverted away from art subjects in high school, but kept in touch with his sketching abilities. It wasn’t until he began studying graphic design at Wits Technikon that his passion resurfaced again. His three college years were some of the most inspirational for him, leading to a decision to try making it as a freelance illustrator.
In 1998 Craig worked as an illustrator for children’s educational book publishers. This allowed for a lot of free time, some of which he filled by painting wildlife. He always remained hopeful that he would one day sell his art to the public and remembers doing a great white shark painting that began his experimentation in painting underwater scenes.
In 2002, Craig was side tracked with the lure of getting a stable salary and began an eight year period working as a graphic designer. Never loosing interest in art, he accepted the odd commission. It wasn’t until he was asked to do a painting titled “Spotted Hunter” in 2006 that he decided to paint actively once again. Life after that was a double existence - graphic designer by day and artist by night.
By 2008 Craig was working constantly on commissioned works. “Yellowfin Torpedo” and “Reef Kings” were two pieces that received quite a bit of attention and formed a breakthrough for him. By 2009 the double life existence of designer by day and artist by night forced a need for change. It should have been an easy decision with a string of commissions in the pipeline and huge support, but the memory the difficulty as an artist made the decision a difficult one.
Through constant encouragement from family and friends, 2010 saw Craig resign and begin a full time career as an artist. Blessed with wonderful opportunities and supported by people who had followed him through the years, he has never looked back. These days Craig receives commissions from around the globe. With his work appearing in books, magazines, clothing, mobile devices etc. The beginning of 2011 saw the launch of the Craig Bertram Smith clothing range, exclusively featuring his art replicated on hand made clothing using cutting-edge technology to produce T-shirts, sun shirts and board shorts.
In the midst of all the new hustle and bustle Craig never forgets the real motive for his art. His passion and focus remains on that of the natural world of fish, which has provided him with a fulfilling and meaningful life through fishing and art. He constantly strives to emphasize this through portraying fish in their element, together with their mysterious beauty, strength and grace. As an artist he studies these creatures in detail and it has become clear to him how fragile their world is. Craig paints in hope that his art will inspire enlightenment and appreciation for the fish that we chase, and compel us to want to give back that which has been given to us.