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Meet the Australian Artist Shrinking Cities into Dioramas

Tiny, garbage-filled alleyways, mini dumpsters, and shrunken, graffiti-covered brick walls are the brainchildren of Joshua Smith.
Image Credits: @cigarettesmightkillyou

The little things really do matter for artist Joshua Smith. An Australia-based artist, Smith been running an art gallery while simultaneously maintaining a career as a stencil artist for 16 years. These days, though, he's been creating the Urban Landscapes miniature series.

Smith switched to shrinking the world down almost a year ago. “I wanted to think outside the box so the first building I created was a very basic 3D building that I then applied stencils to. From here the miniature aspect completely took over and I pushed full steam ahead from a miniature perspective while the stencils took a backseat,” Smith tells The Creators Project.


Image credits: ASB Creative

In his miniatures, Smith aims to recreate the gritty, overpowering atmosphere of urban decay of the cities, like a decrepit back alley filled with rust, rubbish, and graffiti. “Visually it is a lot more interesting than a clean alleyway or building because it has a series of layers to it which all tell a story,” Smith explains.


Image Credits: Mu Yong

His models are reminiscent of New York, San Francisco, and Melbourne. Grime, moss, discarded cigarette butts, chewed gum on the sidewalk, old graffiti tags, and other intricate details define Sam’s hyper-realistic crafted world.


Image credits: ASB Creative

The obsessively detailed scenes are usually made of cardboard and medium density fiberboard—a product made by breaking down hard or softwood residuals into wood fibers. In addition to realism, the artist wishes to bring the reality of his world closer to the sensations felt in big cities. Therefore, Smith’s works feature completely decked-out interiors with working lights, security alarms with motion detectors, and leaning bottom floors, to recreate, for example, the illusion of San Francisco’s industrial streets.


Image courtesy of the artist

The process usually takes between a few days and a month. Depending on what he's building, a dumpster can take 3-4 days, while a shipping container takes a week, and a building, anywhere from a week to a month. See more pictures of Smith’s recent work with his comments below:


"Nearly all my miniatures are based on real life locations such as the one above based on a building in Pell Street in NYC's Chinatown."


"Many of the miniatures are made up of many different elements and all brought together for the final product such as this building based off the back of a bike repair shop in Melbourne. The air conditioner is made up out of cardboard and tracing paper with the fan blades inside made out of paper."


"Some of the miniatures having working interior and exterior lights such as this miniature based off a building in Haymarket in Sydney's Chinatown."


"This particular miniature also has a working sensor activated security alarm which when activated sets off a blue flashing light and alarm sound."

Click here to see more of Joshua Smith’s work.


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