Monday, 16 February 2009

Interview with Si Scott - PSSST co owner & director

Can you give us a brief history of your life as an artist -- from your first days of crayons and markers to where you are now?
I’ve always drawn, as long as I can remember. . My mother always said she doesn’t know where it comes from; no one else in my family is an artist. Soldiers and war pictures when I was young, like most. But I never liked to copy anything. Even at a young age, I never wanted my work to look like anyone else’s.

You are well known for spearheading the design world's love affair of late, with decorative typography. Was typography something you've always been into? Why and how did using it manifest and evolve?
When I was at college, I was looking for a way to express my work and I found that through using typography, I could communicate my ideas a lot better. It was like a missing link that I was looking for. I needed something to anchor it. Of course now I’m trying to move away from it a little bit but anyway…I always wanted to do my own thing and never copy anyone. That’s where it came from – we’d have an assignment and other students would jump on the computer, having the latest edition of a graphic design magazine with them. I’d try to go against what everyone else was doing. I wanted my work to be my work. I wanted people to look at it and know it was mine, even when I was at college. Before I really started to incorporate typography, I was writing song lyrics down, I had little books full of things I’d read and heard. I always really liked artists like Jenny Holzer who used type in the public domain. Song lyrics resonate with me, the emotion in the lyrics…lots you don’t even know what they mean; you develop your own interpretation of them. That’s a quality I’d like to have about my work….

Who are your favorite lyricists and wordsmiths?
Interpol’s Paul Banks. Joy Division, the Smiths, the Pixies – there are too many to name. It’s impossible. In terms of books, I like to read a lot of historical non-fiction, about the World Wars. And music, rock biographies.
You often cite music as a big inspiration....
I’m very into music. I like Manchester because it’s the music capital of England and I go to as many gigs as I can – I went to four in five nights the week before Christmas. I used to play the drums. I’d like to be a music critic now. I’d love to be in a band, but I’m tone deaf. You know Andy Rourke (bassist from the Smiths)? He lives around the corner from me – I get a bit star struck when I see him.
iPod, CDs or vinyl?
On the desk in my studio I have an iPod dock.
Do you listen to playlists or albums?
Always whole album by album – I’m a bit of a traditionalist.

What are you listening to late at night when no one else is up, and you’re working?
Mellow – Bjork and Tricky. Accoustic Neil Young. Massive Attack. Again, too many to name.

In this age of computer generated everything, you do the majority of your work by hand. Can you tell us a little bit about your tools and process?
I never know how long something is going to take. I don’t sketch things in pencil first, I just do it. It’s free-flowing and organic. Sometimes I’d rather get it wrong the first time and have a go at it again, rather than sketching and having it perfect from the beginning. I use layout paper, Fineliner and Rotring pens. My work is 90% hand done and 10% is done on a computer. I work at a drawing table.
I am always working on multiple projects at one time. If you get stuck on one, you can work on another. That’s the great thing about my work and that it’s not a 9 to 5 job. If I get stuck a bit, I can go out and wander around. I’m looking forward to living in New York for that reason; I think there will be new things to see all the time.
What has been inspiring your personal art these days?
I look at fashion magazines and music magazines more than graphic design. I’ve always wanted to do more fashion stuff. I like anything classic with a nice twist. Classic things that have been around but that are interpreted in new ways – that’s something I try to do with my work. Decorative, hand typography has been around forever but I do it in my own way. I’d like to collaborate and work on a campaign for a designer I like, help with image. I don’t know anything about designing clothes.

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