Meet Kenneth Scott, freelance graphic designer, illustrator and artist. Ken has been practising his craft for over thirty years, and he has not yet lost any love for what he does. We spent some time in his studio chatting with him the following is the result of our conversation.
In a career that has spanned over 30 years, I have constantly channeled my talent towards pushing the envelope on creativity in communication. I have worked in the more recognised Advertising Agencies throughout Trinidad & Tobago which includes McCann Erickson, Corbin Compton, Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi and Inglefield Ogilvy & Mather as an Art Director and Illustrator.
This opportunity allowed me to gain invaluable experience working on brands such as TSTT, BWIA, Royal Bank, Lucozade, Angostura, Carib Beer, Royal Extra Stout, Kerrygold, Arawak Chicken etc. most note worthy was the 2001 AAATT Award winning best television ad for Lucozade and the Carib Friday Guardian newspaper blue page print campaign.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
I define creativity as finding the best innovative and relevant solutions to existing problems.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I think creative ability is 100% innate but even though one might be born with natural talent the learning process never stops and one could greatly be influenced by others. It has been my experience that many although they have applied themselves and their is a remarkable improvement in the quality of their work, they are unable reach the same plateau as those who one might consider to be 'Naturals".
When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
From the age of five my creativity was encouraged by some and discouraged by others, even those whom you least expect to do so. In John Donaldson I experienced teachers who encouraged mediocrity and punished excellence, though this may seem strange it is the truth. I have also experienced co-workers who have helped me to attain great success of whom I most eternally grateful.
What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
I think the love for what you are doing comes first. If you are doing something extremely well, and it is wanted or desired, you will be compensated, and sometimes the satisfaction is much more than the compensation, though you may be handsomely rewarded.
I have been in situations where I think the value of the work is worth far more than I am paid, but I know their is much more to do and one must let go.
I think monetary rewards can be compatible in some circumstances and not so in others, that situation is left to the artist and viewpoint of the purchaser.
Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
I think the culture in which I live plays a major part in influencing my creativity. I lived in St. James as little boy which meant I was in the heart of various cultures. The steel bands like Panam North Stars, West Side Symphony, Invaders, Dixie Land, Cross Road etc. The Muslim Hosey festivities, food, various religions and races. I even had chineese people living across from me on Ramjit Kumar street.
The views of others though important could be taken on board or rejected, the final decision still remains with the artist. As an artist while I am working, I'm in constant critique mode. I have the confidence to stand by my work, I am however greatly influenced by other artists that I admire.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
My most creative time is not when I am pursuing an idea but when I am relaxed and sometimes in the oddest of times and places, like the toilet or like at two a.m. when I can't sleep. Creative block? I don't think I ever had one.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
The idea in my head is usually done as a thumbnail sketch where the essence of the concept is formed then transferred onto my canvas, sketchpad or computer.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
No not really. Someone once pointed out to me while I was working at Lonsdale advertising agency that I tap my feet. I was not conscious of it until it was pointed out to me. Maybe I do rituals but just not conscious of it.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
I don't think so. I am a lot more open minded as to what makes good art now as in the past my thoughts was a lot more rigid. My mind at this point has matured and is lot more open to varied and loose influences. As to my style I will see where that trend of thought takes me in the future.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I don't know if the word sacrifice is relevant, I am doing what I love, which most people cannot claim. If every day I could wake up and go into the studio and practice my craft pay bills, myself and family is not hungry, it's a great day. I thank the creator for that.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
The Creator, and love for what I do.
Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
I think is more important to put it out there and let people accept or reject. If most great musicians (Stevie Wonder, Art Porter etc.) Artists ( Rembrandt, Vermeer etc.) had kept their work to themselves, the world would have been a much poorer place for it. The honesty of the artist doing what he or she loves is always revealed.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
No. Not at all, but I could see how it could. I worked in Advertising Agencies for many years and at a time when the creatives such as the Art Directors never saw the clients. The account executive presented the work and I have had numerous stories as to why certain aspects of what is presented doesn't work and you are then required to make ridiculous changes.
The Exec, person who is presenting the creative out of the box idea a lot of time becomes gun shy and as a result insist on telling you what he or she thinks the client would like. Can you picture a more frustrating and discouraging scenario? I have frustrated a lot of Account Executives because they knew the ideas were good but did not know what to do with me, or they would try and work with someone more malleable.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I don't think so, because many of the approaches I had then could apply today. I would venture to say a lot of the things I did then, are being applied today.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
That is very had to say. They are like your children with their own personality.
I have done logos, packaging, caricature, straight paintings, books, various advertising projects, some I enjoyed more than others. Out of the one I truly enjoyed. I honestly can't say for sure.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
Be yourself and always bring forward an honest point of view, otherwise, you would be miserable if you did not.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Don't get involved if you are simply thinking money, get involved for the love and make sure you have the talent. If you work in an agency as a creative, the levels of frustration can be earth shattering but on the other side you are doing what you love and when the creative comes to life the rewards are great.
Working as a freelancer in a small pond where their are many sharks and some sardines, in Trinidad you may not survive. Spread your creativity where it could bring some measure of independence. Maybe develop some products that you can sell to both locals and foreigners.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
Making a difference.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
We'd like to thank Ken for sharing with us. To see more of his work visit his webiste www.kenscottart.com