If Only I’d Known: Nick Scott

If Only I’d Known: Nick Scott

By NellFrizzellIdeasTap 27/07/11

As an Illustrator and Graphic Designer Nick Scott has worked with a host of musicians including Wild Beasts, The Cribs and Kate Nash, as well as corporate clients like Umbro and Ribena. It's all a long way from those 6am supermarket shifts...

What is your name/age/job title?

Nick Scott, 31, Graphic Designer and Illustrator.

What one thing do you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?

If only it was just one thing! I wish I had known that the unconventional route is unconventional for a reason. I mistakenly believed that people would be able to see the variety of skills used in my work, but in reality the client and the workplace is king. I wish I had balanced my efforts more equally between my work for the music industry and more corporate projects.

If you could go back and give your younger self any practical advice, what would it be?

Don’t stop drawing. Take more photographs of your surroundings, even if they feel boring now; they’ll gain magic over time.

If someone had told your 16-year-old self that you would be a successful designer in your thirties, would have believed them?

At 16 I was lost, without any real idea what to do with myself. But at 17 I was out of education, working full-time on the 6am shift at a supermarket and drawing posters for local gigs in Milton Keynes. Since then I’ve always had the drive to do what I do now.

If I had been told I would design records by Johnny Marr from The Smiths, develop projects involving Bernard Butler of Suede and work on the launch of the England football kit I wouldn't have believed it.

Is there an embarrassing episode from your past that you wish you could edit out?

After a couple of years working professionally with bands I had a disastrous meeting with a record label. I was summoned to London (I was living in Leeds at the time) to “touch base” with the production manager. In hindsight it was obvious that the purpose of the meeting was to put me through the wringers but I was unprepared and left a shocked wreck. Never again will I enter such a meeting without knowing what is expected of me.

Is there a single thing that you wish you’d had/known about when you started out? Something that has shaped the way you work today?

The two pieces of equipment, other than computer design programs, that I find indispensable are a telephone and Google. Taking the time to talk through projects will save your bacon. For example, a quick phone call asking printers how they want things supplied is nothing to be ashamed of – they want you to do it the right way. A five-minute conversation is easier than having to fix your mistakes. Google is indispensable as a resource of guidance too. I spent years avoiding vectors – I found the tools confusing and counter-intuitive – but quick searches of Google helped me overcome that anxiety.

Is there a project (it could be a gig, an award, that sort of thing) of which you are particularly proud?

I am very proud of the work I did for the last Cribs record Ignore the Ignorant, especially the banners I made and photographed in Spitalfields. I've been very lucky to work with people like the Wild Beasts and Kate Nash and photographer Pat Graham. I’ve recently become a full-time member of the East London Printmakers. Returning to screen-printing after a long absence feels brilliant, and I’m currently working on a project tied to the illustrations I do for Upstaged for IdeasTap.

What would you consider your ‘big break’? And how did you get it?

I’ve been lucky enough to have had several big breaks and unlucky enough to have had several false alarms. My first was getting to work on a record sleeve for a reasonably well-known act, only for it to crash and burn commercially. My second was to work with The Cribs, who let me have the freedom to learn all aspects of design and production the hard way. And my third was working with Brass Agency in Leeds on Umbro.com, which would have seen my work reach huge amounts of people, only for England to fail to qualify for the European Championship!

I got all of these opportunities by putting myself in view with projects like fanzines, exhibitions and websites, and pushing for attention.



To see more of Nick’s work visit his website or follow him on Twitter.


Are you an illustrator looking to make the leap to the big time? Apply for the Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund and you could win £30,000 funding over an entire year.

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