Image of Derek Smith

Derek Smith
Senior Art Director & Film Director
Martin Agency

RICHMOND, USA // You would’ve thought Derek would have called it quits. After a fractured hip, a broken leg, a sprained PCL, two torn ACLS and a broken heart—packing up and going back to Alabama would’ve been easy. Instead, he chose to turn the obstacles into fuel that would push him to go even further. Sports took him far, but life after sports genuinely required going the distance.

Derek Smith is a former D1 athlete who took a different route other than sports. Although he was ranked top 50 high school running backs in Alabama, the first person from my high school to receive a full ride to play collegiate sports and a captain on his college football team— he knew it could all be taken away on any given play. This turbulent interference of being at a high point to having disaster hit not only built character, it showed him the importance of pulling others up who might be facing similar situations. He hopes his story is an energy source and an inkwell to persevere toward like-minded ambitions.

Despite the injuries, nothing could take him out of the game of hard work and determination. Lately, he has played his hand at art direction, finding the game is much the same: colors bleed, pencils break and even pages tear.

He got his start at Publicis Seattle. There, he spent the past several years entrenched in all things T Mobile and Aflac. You could say the stages of his career is serendipity, as he had been tasked with bringing the artistry of Buffalo Wild Wing’s raucous commitment to the epitome of die-hard sports fans to a whole new atmosphere. He also had been helping DoorDash keep restaurants open.

Derek is currently transitioning to film directing. He’s directed campaigns for brands like DoorDash and FosterMore. He’s currently unofficially repped by Hungry Man productions, a top ten A-list production company voted by Adage.

When it comes to his career path, he has been part of award-winning campaigns while never straying from his roots. His story is important, because there are kids out there facing some of the same things he had to go through. We all need reassurances sometimes. When it’s all said and done, the grind never stops—nor can we.