Smíšek was born in Czechoslovakia in 1925. After spending most of World War II in labour camps, he fled Europe in 1948 and emigrated to New Zealand in 1951.
He first worked for the Crown Lynn pottery, before moving to Nelson in 1952. Later in 1957 Smíšek became New Zealand’s first full-time studio potter. He also taught pottery at the Nelson Technical School. In 1963 he travelled to St Ives, England and studied under Bernard Leach. Then in 1968 he moved to the Kapiti Coast. Recently he worked for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, making over 700 earthenware items for the three films.
In the 1990 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Smíšek was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for services to pottery. His work is represented in numerous collection around New Zealand including Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery.