Now and Then: Scott Wilson
Brought to you by Portfolio Recruitment
Now and Then is a new series where we catch up with designers who we’ve recently placed, via Portfolio Recruitment, to get their thoughts and feedback about their roles and their work. Second up we speak with Scott Wilson. Scott is a designer at Saturday. in Auckland.
Scott, tell us a bit about yourself. What gave you the creative bug?
I probably wouldn’t have considered myself creative until well into my degree. I wasn’t interested in art and hadn’t taken any arts classes in high school. I was taking physics, calculus and chemistry for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of. I hated them. The closest I got was taking Technical Drawing/Design in 5th Form. I hated that too, but I had a crush on a girl in the class so I persevered. At the very least, I suppose it was an introduction to the concept of creating something that had an objective purpose and job to do for a specific end user. But we were designing trailer covers and sunscreen boxes – hardly the stuff that evokes passion in a 15yr old kid. Again though: Girl. Crush. Persevere.
Fortunately, due to a team effort from my lack of romantic fortitude and my school’s rather loose prerequisite system, I managed three years of Technical Drawing which was enough to convince them to let me take this class called Art Design in my final year. I had no idea what it was but it changed my life. That’s not a hyperbolic statement – it really did. It was the first class in all my schooling that really made sense to me; the perfect blend of creativity and pragmatism. I had an amazing, passionate teacher who wrote individualised briefs based on what she knew I was otherwise interested in, so the work was real to me. My grades were far higher than any other subject I had taken during high school and I genuinely loved the work. I knew I had to pursue it further, so I tagged along to a Massey CoCA open day and was instantly sold. Design and Visual Communication seemed to be the one place where the random collection of things I happened to be good at would piece together into a useful and effective set of skills.
Tell us about your role at Saturday. What do you love about it?
I’ve been with Saturday. for almost a year now, and it has been fantastic. I’m not just saying that because I know they’ll read this! Some context: I went straight from university into an in-house role for the better part of three years. I was able to produce some great work whilst there, some of which I’m sure will be in my book for a long time. I had a lot of creative freedom, and took full liberty of that. Full liberty. However, I had no Creative Director or Design Lead above me. I had nobody to keep me accountable to my processes and exploration, or to continually teach me and challenge my creative opinions in a constructive way. I could see I was beginning to develop bad habits in my work, often cutting corners and producing work I knew would get sign-off but that I knew I could have done more with — not a good place for a junior to be long-term.
So with that in mind, what I love about this role now, more than the actual work is the environment and the people. Since day one I’ve been getting the development I was in search of, from the whole team. Our Account Managers have taught me more about client dynamics than I thought there was to know. My Creative Director is constantly pushing and mentoring me. I don’t get away with any of my sneaky habits, and I am constantly challenged to think more about every part of the process. I’ll be honest, it can be uncomfortable and somewhat humbling at times. But he genuinely wants to see me become a better designer, and that isn’t something I take for granted.
All of this is not to discredit the work itself. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on large corporate brand systems and all their layers through to identities for start-up businesses; animation and video content; illustration, spatial, editorial design and photography. I’m constantly faced with new problems to solve, which is something I value highly in any role. Portfolio really were able to place me with the right fit better than I could have ever selected myself.
Is there a piece of advice you can offer to younger designers trying to make their way?
I’m still a young designer trying to make his way so I can’t offer much, but my advice (for those looking for work) would simply be to back yourself and approach people. I had this perception that I’d be met with a, “So you think you’re good enough to talk to us,” kind of deal. I don’t think I was/am alone in feeling that at all. However, literally every Creative/Design Director I met or spoke during my job hunt was friendly, helpful, and had nothing but positive things to say. I was quite surprised.
If you weren’t going to be a designer… what would your next career choice have been?
I was going to hang around in the town I’m from and become a builder. Sometimes when it’s late at work, a deadline is looming and progress is slow I have to wonder if I made the right call. But I think I did.
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