Classic DYI backcountry, We Thought – Josh DeSmit


Josh DeSmit is an up-and-coming artist seeking to fuse his affinity for street art, spray paint, and the outdoors to create unique mixed media pieces. Josh has graciously agreed to share his stories of trials, tribulations, and jubilations as he tries to make it as a full-time outdoor artist. Check out his first post and his amazing portfolio

Classic DYI backcountry, We Thought

After a few nights in Denver, and a lackluster art fair in Dillon, it was time to facilitate adventure. It’s what one does when stuffy tourists don’t want to buy one’s work. One hits the water in search of inspiration to make more art that people won’t buy. It’s a fun game.

My dad and friend from Minneapolis flew into Colorado to hit the bush with plans of hunting willing trout. My college hockey pal, Corey, and I rounded out the group. We were to take a leisurely drive to a mountain lake, setup base camp and take day hikes deeper into the wilderness. Classic DYI backcountry, we thought.


The interwebs said 4-wheel drive and a little clearance would do the trick, and as we encountered a Lexus SUV full of handsome women at the start of the jeep trail our confidence was sound. After three miles of creeping up shit creek the Lexus was outgunned, and we never saw them again as we pressed on. My friend and fellow fly fishing artist, John Piacquadio, is a transplant to our Midwestern home from NYC, and isn’t well versed in roads unpaved. We were happy to learn him up as we lurched along, heads rocking windows, scheming our way through each hairy spot we encountered. Three hours and only eight miles later, as we stared at a gnarled hillside in the thing called road, we deemed discretion was the better part of valor and setup camp.


Adapting to adverse situations is an ability that is still innate in us humans, though it may be fleeting in this age of convenience. We had a plan set in mind and on map, but seeing the rough road ahead we thought better than to push our luck. Thankfully, we had two little mountain gems to fish that became our new plan of attack. The fishing was ridiculous, and though we didn’t catch any brutes, the sheer number of fish we landed was something to behold. Brookies by the hundreds hit dries and leeches in their innocent, yet devilish manor. A few of them tasted lovely, as well. Cutts were sparse, but John landed a beautifully tannic specimen that deserved daps and pounds.


With spotty weather to deal with over our three day jaunt we still managed to succeed in all of our camping goals. We stoked, and were stoked on, open fires and smoky brook trout, instant coffee, and beans cooked in the can. We got our hike in to the next lake above, and we saw beauty unseen in the concrete jungles of our home Minneapolis and pit stop Denver. Stories of blunder and glory were shared, and hard sleeping ground put kinks in our backs that only the finest of chiropractors could solve.


Due to the rain, our ride down was a bit interesting, and flashes of an emergency hike were sometimes imminent. We made it out due to stellar, white knuckled driving by yours truly and the experience of a veteran co-pilot in my old man. I only peed a little bit. Willingly exposing oneself to vulnerability at the helm of the natural world fulfills the necessary get away from the polished life of civilization. Dirt in the nails, a smelly ass, and fresh memories of accomplishment and failure feed us on to the next weekend, getting us through a shitty week of work. Adrenaline and serenity give us nature’s speedball and propel us to find the next wild cutthroat stream, wall to climb, or trail to conquer.


For me it builds a field of imagery that battles the daily grind of traffic and wifi, aiding and abetting in works of art that blur the lines of such separate realities. As the wild world becomes tame let us not suppress our primal needs, but rather, let us own our duality and protect these lands and spaces of emotional respite so we may call on them as we ever adapt to life’s adverse changes.

* To check out Josh’s portfolio or purchase one of his sweet pieces, visit his website.

DeSmit BioJosh DeSmit is an obsessed artist, fly fisherman, hunter, and outdoorsman.  Growing up in Minneapolis, Josh developed his love for the outdoors and honed his skills on the pocket-riddled brook trout streams of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where his family owns a cabin. The combination of city life and wilderness adventure that shape Josh’s life is the foundation of his artistic style.

 His unique brand aims to accentuate the chaos, detail, beauty, and desperation that results from the young fly fisher feeding in the film between urban and rural, school and work, love and a beer.  The fusing of his background in printmaking, his affinity for street art and spray paint, and his love for the outdoors enables him to create one-of-a-kind mixed media pieces that are truly original in the world of outdoor art. 




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