Terry Smith with his original painted 1991 Fleer portraits

The Terry Smith Collection

The TSC Collection originated in the 1980s when Terry began producing paintings of professional and college athletes in a style he called sports fantasy. His love of comic books and superheroes led him to develop a style where he envisioned athletes as superheroes—and he wanted to create images that portrayed them in this manner. At the time, he thought that athletes were emerging as the new cultural icons in society.

Terry Smith painting Fleer '91 portrait of Michael Jordan, rocketing through space with a basketball.

In an interview, Terry expressed his viewpoint in this manner, “In the ’50s, the movie stars were cultural icons. They were the aspirational figures that society seemed to idolize and follow. In the ’60s rock stars moved to the top of the cultural icon charts. In the late ‘80s we began to see another shift. Athletes were beginning to emerge as the most recognized and followed figures globally. They were fast becoming the new cultural icons in society on a global basis.” 

An assortment of Terry Smith's NFL portraits for the 1991 Fleer Pro-Visions

Terry felt their newfound iconic status called for a new treatment in how they should be portrayed. The images of the superstar athletes should show them in a superheroic light—something more extreme than a simple photograph stuck on a poster. The new images tell a story and showcase the things that make each athlete seem superhuman.

An assortment of Terry Smith's MLB portraits for the 1991 Fleer Pro-Visions

The poses, colors, and rendering style exaggerate who each athlete is, with an emphasis on elements that subtly give the audience a glimpse into their personality—little details that hint at the things that make them special. In short, each painting tells a story and feels like the cover of “issue number one” of the athlete’s very own superhero comic book.

An assortment of Terry Smith's NBA portraits for the 1991 Fleer Pro-Visions

Terry started creating these images solely for himself, but his unique style and visionary concepts quickly gained the attention of sports fans everywhere. Beginning in the California Bay Area with the local college and professional teams, audiences expanded to a national level with his work for Adidas and Fleer Corp. He created the popular Provision insert cards series for Fleer’s sports trading cards in 1990 and provided the illustrations for the special insert cards for their baseball, football, and basketball cards in ‘90 and ‘91.

Terry Smith's portrait of Magic Johnson in his Lakers jersey, sweeping a basketball with magical dust trailing behind it.
Terry Smith's portrait of Shaquille O'Neal, popping a basketball single-handed, with a computer chip showing through his shoulder muscle.

After a 25-year hiatus, Terry has returned to painting once more and is looking forward to taking his sports fantasy style and the Terry Smith Collection to new creative heights. He has also been trying to get with the times, making the transition from painting with acrylic inks and airbrushes on illustration boards to painting digitally while still maintaining consistency in his painting style, colorful palette, and inventive imagery that separates his work from all others.

Zion Williamson standing in front of stormy skies.

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Available and upcoming prints by Terry Smith, including NBA star Zion Williamson.

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