Humans of Harker: A designer’s eye

Smrithi Sambamurthy builds lasting friendships through art and design


Jasleen Hansra

“Journalism really helped me with people skills. I [also] got to take photos and meet a lot of my closest friends in journalism that I don’t think we would have otherwise. Photographing and capturing a lot of people’s memories and being able to provide people with those pictures feels super special,” Smrithi Sambamurthy (12) said.

As Smrithi Sambamurthy (12) stepped onto a flight headed to Pittsburgh, a wave of uncertainty occupied her mind. Smrithi’s first time traveling alone, the experience filled her with anticipation. But she kept in mind the destination: the Summer Carnegie Mellon Arts Program, where she would delve into design and art. She thought about the art and the community she would immerse herself into, and with a deep breath, she boarded the plane, overcoming her initial qualms.

Smrithi began experimenting with art in preschool and started to pursue art more seriously in high school, when she started applying her artistic eye to other subjects and side projects. After being introduced to design through DECA in her freshman and sophomore years, Smrithi realized design’s impact.

“Good design is very behind the scenes, but it has such a big impact on the viewer’s experience,” Smrithi said. “So many people interact with design on a daily basis, and very good design can touch a lot of people and be influential.”

Smrithi continued to explore design through various Harker art classes. The AP Studio Art class, which she took in her junior year, helped her hone her design skills and develop a vision for her future.

“It helped me realize what kind of work I want to be doing in the future and become more confident in my own skills because at the end of it when I look back at the entire portfolio of  [AP Art and Design’s] 15 pieces, it was some of the best work I ever made” Smrithi said. “I felt super proud of myself at the end of it, and I felt a lot more confident in my skills.”

Upper school Visual Arts Department Chair Josh Martinez, who first taught Smrithi in her sophomore year, noted not only her open attitude towards learning and improving but her bold personality. With her confidence Smrithi often seeks to help her classmates and share constructive criticism.

“Smrithi is awesomely unfiltered,” Martinez said. “If there is feedback to give, students can be a little scared to give it, even when it’s helpful. She’s not scared to do that. It’s a growth point for everybody when there’s a student who’s bold but generous, who is willing to say the stuff that needs to be said, and I love that.”

Design and art mean so much more than a finished product for Smrithi. Rather, her work has served as a way to build her confidence and to discover her identity.

“[My art and design] has been a huge help in expressing myself,” Smrithi said. “It slowly helped me be more confident and step out of my comfort zone. It’s worth it because I feel more confident in who I am and who I am becoming.”

Smrithi also explores her love for design as part of the TALON yearbook staff. As a freshman, Smrithi enrolled in journalism’s yearbook class as a way to branch out and try something new. She quickly found herself drawn to the journalism program’s tight knit community, which enabled her to learn from others and flourish. In junior year, Smrithi became TALON’s lead illustrator, and she served as sports editor in her senior year.

“Journalism really helped me with people skills,” Smrithi said. “I [also] got to take photos and meet a lot of my closest friends in journalism that I don’t think we would have otherwise. Photographing and capturing a lot of people’s memories and being able to provide people with those pictures feels super special.”

One friend Smrithi connected with through collaborating on the yearbook was close friend and fellow TALON editor Jasleen Hansra (12). They soon began to spend time together by eating lunch or going for a coffee run, activities through which Smrithi’s unwavering support and honesty stood out to Jasleen.

“Smrithi is a very supportive friend,” Jasleen said. “She always tells you it how it is. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. If I have a predicament or something, I can always go to her and know she’s giving me the truth.”

Time spent with Smrithi is characterized by her honesty and humor in conversations, as noted by close friend Nila Dharmaraj (11). Nila lauds Smrithi’s resilience and optimism, no matter the circumstances.

“Smrithi is without a doubt the strongest person I know,” Nila said. “Even with the worst situations, she can make the best out of the worst. She will always be able to make me laugh even when I am sad.”

Through her time in high school, Smrithi has matured into a creative and confident artist and designer. She looks toward the future as an opportunity for her to continue exploring the realms of art and design.

“In the future, I want to be able to create art that impacts people and is relatable to their own experiences,” Smrithi said. “With art, in the beginning, I felt like I was telling people how I feel, using words in the image or depicting something that was just so literal. With design, I want to be more confident in my skills and to trust myself more in the professional space by allowing myself to take the opportunities that are given to me and not doubt myself.”