As we roll into tarpon season down, we partnered with artist and angler Dylan Schmitz on a Key West inspired illustration collection. 


Tell us a little about yourself:

Howdy! I'm a professional button pusher and co-founder of Badfish, as well as the Creative Director at Recur Outdoors and Postfly.  


Your well known for your photography and videography work, can you tell us a little bit more about your design side to your creative work? 

I actually started in web and graphic design before getting into photo and video. I started my career as a freelancer and working in startups, so I had to learn it all. 


Where did you draw inspiration for this collection?

Well, I didn't really need much inspiration for this collection. I used to live in the Keys and still try to get there as much as possible. It was really great to finally express my experiences there in graphics, which I've never done.  


What's your connection to the Keys?

I moved to the Keys right out of college with a couple of friends. I've always loved flats fishing and I wanted to throw myself right into the tarpon and permit fishing Mecca. On the right days, the waters around there are like out of a dream and of course, it's not hard to find a good time on land too. My time in the Keys had a huge impact on my career and the years following.

Whenever I go back, I'm always tempted to drop everything and just stay there.   

Can you tell us a little about the process of making your designs? 

My process is basically get any and all ideas on paper. From objects to sayings. From there, I pick my favorite, maybe incorporate a few together, and wrap it together with a similar style and theme. It takes some time to get in the zone for sure. Normally, it starts out with a bunch of really shitty drawings before my subconscious clicks and spits out some actually creative ideas.  


Favorite design in the collection?

My favorite is the rooster on the tarpon. I just had to put together the two things that stand out to me when I'm there.

Roosters mocking you on land and rolling tarpon mocking you on the water.  

What advice would you give a young artist?

 It's with any art form: shoot or draw what you're passionate about. Tap into your own experiences and interests and try to embody that in your work. 


What's on the horizon for you?

Another Keys trip at the end of the month! Then lots of flats fishing up in New England. This Keys Collection is really kicking off a fun summer for collaborations and media for me. Stoke is high.  


Boat snack of choice?

I snack pretty hard on the boat. Most of the time it's gas station breakfast bars and tortilla chips and salsa. And obviously, gummy candies in general, which I switch it up a fair amount. Gotta keep it fresh. 


Dream destination to visit?

Dream destination... hmm. I have a long list still. Baja, Japan, NZ are at the top right now. But, I still think my past Belize trip for tarpon and permit will be hard to beat.


Dream fish to catch? 

Dream fish is an Indo Pacific permit, which are the yellow ones. I went to Oman this past December to target them, but didn't even get a shot. Some tough weather and maybe not the right time of year made them more elusive than normal. But I won't rest until I grab one of those S.O.B.'s by the tail! 


Photos: Dylan Schmitz, Ian Wilson, Austin Aronson