i for inspiration, o for observation

“Inspiration is all around us” is one of my favourite phrases. In the colours of an eighteenth-century painting or in the graffiti on a wall … To keep track of my sources of inspiration, I use a camera that I keep with me at all times. It’s for my “visual diary”.

Many people around me do not see what I see. I am not boasting about it; it’s the way I was born. The observation of daily life is an amusing exercise. Finding absurdity in everyday life is a very British tradition : Alan Bennett, Mr. Bean and Monty Python are great examples of this, indeed. British humour relies heavily on timing. In a formal gathering, you must be respectful and extremely polite before casually making an outrageous remark. Every day of my life, I witness something that makes me burst out laughing.

Paul Smith in conversation with Olivier Wicker, “Paul Smith, a to z”, Abrams, New York, 2012

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