We had the good fortune of connecting with Anthony Smith Chaigneau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I have never been risk averse. It is all too easy to not take up a challenge and simply stay in one’s comfort zone, That is not me. I have embraced risk, I have engineered it (created opportunity) and looked at it as a learning curve and a positive element in both my life and career. At the same time I am not cavalier about it. The risks taken have been and always are calculated risks that have ultimately paid off so far. I remember, many, many years ago now, being stood at the end of the pier in Key West (on vacation from France) watching the sunset. Three British guys were there also on vacation and we got talking. They offered me an opportunity to join them in a real-estate venture (flipping homes) in Palm Springs. It was a serious offer. I had 12 hours to think about it. It was a mad, risky opportunity that was just what I was looking for at that time in my life. I slept on it, dreamt about it all night. At breakfast the next day it was leave with them or go back to my other European world. I went back ! I do however, wish that I was able to have cloned myself and allowed my other self to have gone down that different path. Would it have been an amazing adventure (or total disaster)? Even today I find myself wondering what my path would have been had I taken that opportunity.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At school I was academically lazy. The things that took my interest were anything creative. I did not give a hoot for writing, mathematics or the sciences except for biology and reveled in the botanical drawings, dissection and all that subject offered. When it came to science electives leading to exams it clashed with another subject that I desperately wanted to do (Geometrical and Engineering Drawing), which I knew I could ace. I had to go with Physics as my science choice, which I HATED. I did badly at exam time failing science my dream of going to Art College fell apart. (You still needed a Math, Science and English to get accepted into Art College! So, I had to look for a path to get away from home and see what I could do in the big wide world. I joined the military. Art stayed with me along my technical professional journey. I studied fervently at evening classes, and mentors and eventually had the courage to strike out as an artist in parallel to my career. My first real exhibition (at age twenty-seven) was in Norway where I had fifty-five pieces of work on display coming home, after one week, with only fifteen. I was in the military at the time and used my art to both entertain (cartooning) and for self-satisfaction (watercolors). On leaving the military at the start of the nineties, I found myself in France for work, as there was a depression in the UK. While there, I entered several local competitions where I started to win prizes. Eventually I was nominated by a distinguished artist in France and awarded a Silver Medal – from the ‘Academie Internationale Français de Merite et Dévouement’ – Arts. I have worked in many different mediums and found that whatever you have a go at you must try to do it to the best of your ability. Take risks. If it works it works – if it doesn’t move on. Like in life it is all about risk taking and I have entered some crazy works into the National and International competitions to always be let down … I have put in fine-art and still never been selected. But I am not surprised as today the world is more of a ‘pay-to play’ environment and for Art, at a certain level, the snobbery is amplified so it depends on what school you studied at, which is supposed to give you a certain artistic credibility. That might seem cynical but I find it wrong! My art comes from the soul and that will always shine through. An artist is an artist through and through. The ultimate irony is that I am now a published author, have sold many hundreds of art-works including cartoons. In life some things just need nurturing. By the way I am still a businessman in the business world and am on a daily basis a ‘Creative Director’ for a Swiss multinational group.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start out in the countryside and take them to a spot 45 minutes out, from my home, that I think sets the scene for the region. The Lost Dutchman state park for a camping and hiking moment. Taking in the nature and the views of the mountains, the valleys and desert flora and fauna. This is where cooking out on a campfire, as the sun sets over Phoenix, would make for a beautiful start to a trip. On the way home take in a gunfight at Goldfield, and imagine a bygone era. Heading back into Phoenix stopping at the Clarendon Hotel for a night to hang out at the pool for cocktails in this very bohemian, young and vibrant place, to finish with happy hour on the rooftop bar and to again watch the fiery sky go to sleep. From the Clarendon first a lunch in Postino on Central, a must do, and then go up a notch to the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia on Lincoln for some lovely leisure time, swimming and relaxing by the pool. For a great end to the trip then Pizza Bianco is a must. This is located in one of the historic houses in Heritage Square downtown Phoenix near the Science Centre…There is so much more to do that Phoenix really is an amazing place to visit.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Having had an adventurous multiple career opportunity I think that this is an extremely hard question. I distinctly remember Cpl Lusty (Yes…his real name) teaching me to iron shirts in a military barracks at boot camp. His teachings (shoe-polishing, bed-making etc.) in that initial six-weeks set me on a fruitful career in the military. The camaraderie of the military with everyone looking after everyone made me the team player I am today. I feel that corporate life is missing that, and it can be a bit of a dog-eat-dog situation where politics in the work-force destroys many good people. I looked for camaraderie in other organizations’ and I found it in Sport. Volleyball and Rugby were everyone works for everyone, At high-school our PE teacher Graham Hodgeson was not a nice man but he understood what Rugby and sport in general delivered. He made me get stuck in and I never thought I would ever see him as a positive influence in my life. I have so many people, organizations and artists. Tony Couch AWS (American Watercolor Society). One week in his presence taught me a lifetime of art. Finally it would be unwise for me not to mention my family. My stepfather who lives far away, in Asia, taught me that you don’t have to be blood to be family. He taught me values and that when you want something, then you work hard for it. Everyone I have ever met in my travels and in my career made me understand that nothing in life comes for free.