Originally from Leeds, but now working as a graphic designer out of Manchester and London, Si Scott is widely known for his incredibly detailed and flowing style of illustration. Using floral motifs clearly inspired by Art-Nouveau, Scott assembles his intricate animal illustrations shape-by-shape, curve-by-curve, until the overall drawing becomes clear. His illustrations have drawn wide acclaim from the art world for their remarkable detail, and have landed him highly coveted clients such as UNICEF, the BBC, Casio, Nike, Coca Cola, and other top brands.
Scott’s graphic design background comes from his education from Leeds College of Art & Design, as well as Buckinghamshire Chilterns University in the U.K. He left school at 16 to go to these universities and — after graduating — landed himself a position at a small design agency in London. Hopping around several different London-based agencies, Scott continued developing his own style and artistic competence. There were some hiccups, but a positive attitude allowed Scott to push through several hardships.
I got made redundant twice in as many years and I think in a way this was good for me, because it pushed me more…I just try and keep focused and pull positives out of every job — if it doesn’t go ahead, [I] keep it on the back burner until a project comes up that [I] can use the idea for.Interview with Si Scott, 99u magazine.
Inspiration from the beautiful style of Art-Nouveau
Scott’s work draws heavily from the Art-Nouveau style, which is known for accentuating natural forms (like the meandering curves of flowers and plants), evoking dynamism and movement, and creating asymmetrical flowing lines. It’s an art style that was most popular between 1890 and 1910, and was manifested in all kinds of work, including ceramics, furniture design, architecture, glasswork, and more. Art-Nouveau is a highly influential style, with a motivation of breaking down traditional distinctions between fine and applied arts. The movement as a whole was a reaction against ‘academic’ art (think renaissance paintings). See some examples of other work done in the Art-Mouveau style below:
How does Scott make his illustrations?
Such masterful illustrations beg the question of how they can be done. Is there a computer used? A certain kind of pen? Where does the inspiration come from? Is there a reference photo? A preliminary line-work sketch done before hand and then filled out with these intricate floral motifs?
It’s hard to say, since there’s little information available from Scott. One thing that’s known for sure about Scott’s work is that he tries to avoid the usage of a computer as much as possible. It’s a rare workflow when it comes to those in the graphic design industry, especially in this day and age where a computer is completely essential.
I like to be very hands on with my work and only use the computer to piece it together. I still get a lot of emails off people asking me what programs I use to produce the work! I think I could actually get by without one — having to send original drawings by post or courier and things like that. Computers are great as a tool but I do believe that a lot of people rely on them far too much and let them dictate how a piece is ultimately going to look.Interview with Si Scott, 99u magazine.
It makes sense that a style of illustration as natural and flowing as Scott’s would be better suited towards just drawing with a pen or pencil as opposed to a tedious and grueling fight with something like Photoshop’s pen tool. It’s a refreshing workflow nowadays, since much modern commercial design work relies a little to heavily on stock assets and quick, computer-generated imagery.
But there’s a reason for the modern way. One annoying aspect about Scott’s more traditional workflow is the fact that in commercial design work, things do have to end up in a digital format eventually. In Scott’s case, it’s unclear if his drawings are eventually traced over in a vector illustration software such as Illustrator, or if they’re simply scanned in at a high resolution and then just used like that.
Either way, Scott’s work is clearly very time-consuming. There’s just no way to produce images like his quickly, considering how detailed they are and the fact that they’re hand-drawn. When asked about his overall philosophy and general attitude towards his work, Scott had this to say:
I just seem to work all the time — I don’t think [I have] any big secret to being organized, it’s just a matter of getting on with it, I guess. I’ve always been quite good and very motivated to do the best work possible. I’m always striving to better myself. One day I would like to be content with myself and look back and think ‘yeah, I did alright in the end.’ Hopefully this will happen, as I never feel quite content.Interview with Si Scott, 99u magazine.
You can check out more of Scott’s work on Behance, and follow his day-to-day through his Instagram account (@siscottstudio). I highly recommend checking out some of his more commercial work. He does amazing stuff with typography and letterforms, which is how he manages to land such high-profile clients. One excellent repository of his work that I found floating around can be looked at here. It’s a good blend of commercial work, art, typography, and graphic design. A great showcase of just how versatile Scott can be.