Scott Nelson from Scott Nelson and Son [scottnelson]
What is your profession? What is your title printed on your business card?
What did you study and why did you choose to study that field?
I went into art school thinking I'd drawn toasters for a living. I liked drawing fine detail and drawing line art seemed to inspire me. Thankfully the school had an intern program and I had an opportunity to work with an add agency for a semester. In the end, I really didn't care for it as much as I'd expected to. Maybe because they had me doing paste ups all day but I just knew it wasn't for me. The next semester I interned with a cartoonist (caricaturist.) I knew from that point on I would make cartoons my life.
What is expected of you in your job, and how do you accomplish it?
Nobody expects anything of me except me. As a freelancer you have to be self motivated, driven and focused. You don't mow your lawn half way through the day and then not go back to work. Over the years I have learned to walk away from the studio when I don't NEED to be there but... it seems like you can always find something to do if you look for it.
What links do you have on the Internet: website, blog, social networks?
I've had my own website: WWW.ScottNelsonandSon.com for years now. I don't update the site myself (I use a designer) but I do update the BLOG on it every few weeks. PLEASE go check it out. It could use the visits/comments. One of my book publishers also has WWW.MulchtheLawnmower up and running for me. That's a nice site! I'm also starting to put my "web print" out in other areas. Joining blog groups and starting to socialize more. I'm really starting to like networking this way because when you're all alone in your studio, it feels like you have an extended family to talk to at a click of the mouse.
Are you satisfied with the education that you received?
NO! I kick myself all the time that I didn't get additional schooling when I was young. I think when I was in art school the didn't even have a P.C. on campus! I opened my own studio doors when I was 19 and to keep them open, I worked another full time job at nights. With only 4-5 hours of sleep a day, I didn't have time to go back to school again AND keep the business running. Now that I'm in my 40's, I'm behind the 8 ball on some of the computer skills I could use. I guess I could back now but there always seems to be soccer coaching duties for my son's team, short deadlines and of course the lawn to be mowed. Never say never though.
In which areas have you thought of building upon your education?
As mentioned before, I think I'd take some more computer classes. Photoshop and illustrator classes maybe.
In which tasks are you good at, and in which could you better yourself?
Time mamagement comes pretty easy to me. I think book keeping is my worst trait. I kind of still use the shoebox concept.
Do you usually attended seminars or coursework to advance your professional work or would you consider yourself a more self-taught person?
Self taught for sure. I teach part time at an art museum and they do offer some neat classes. I just don't take advantage of them. I keep pretty busy so in my down time, I just want to focus on beign a good father/husband.
When did you realise that your work was being considered important and that it could possibly take you places?
Hmmmm-- I think when I started doing greeting cards it finally kicked in. I liked the idea that I could walk into a drug store or a market across the country and possibly see my little cartoon dog or bunny.
Who have been the most influential people in your career?
My wife! Without her, I couldn't do what I do. The life of a freelancer is a rollercoaster ride and it takes two to pay the bills.
Charles Schultz too. Without the inspirations to drawn Snoopy when I was young... I don't know if I would have picked up the pencil so quick.
With which types of persons do you feel you work well with as a team?
Funny and nice people. I don't like people who are sooooo serious they can't laugh while they work. I'm driven to get the job done but I don't want to so stressed out, I don't enjoy the process of creating.
Which goals have you focused on in your professional career?
Believe it or not, always wanted to have my art on the side of Happy Meal box. That hasn't happend yet but the desire has been there since I started working at McDonalds when I was only 16. I'm also focused on learning new styles and changing with the times.
Which publications associated with your field do you regularly read?
I read the Artist Market Guide each year. I'd also say Artist magazine but they kind of blew me off years ago (I wrote an article about drawing greeting cards) so I let my subscription run out. LOL
Which languages do you speak, and how have you learned them?
Does Piglatin count? OK--English only and I'm still not sure I have that mastered. I'm originally from Worcester, MA but I say it like this.... "Whostah".
Do you have a website or blog? How was the process in making it? Does it accomplish the purpose for which it was created?
Yup-- WWW.ScottNelsonandSon.com. I blog on it now and use it as a "what's new for me" lately tool. I also talk about old business memories that artist could learn from. Check it out!
How do you feel about speaking in front of an audience? What experience have you had in this arena?
I've done a fairshare of book signings now. When I started writing children's books, I was TOTALLY unaware that readings and Q&A were part of the marketing experience . Thankfully I'm OK with being in front of people. I'm even good with kids. (The soccer coaching thing comes in handy.) In fact, I would like do stand up comedy someday and these readings are good place to practice my lame jokes.
Do you attend cocktail parties, presentations, fairs or conventions related to your profession?
Nope! I fly under the radar most of the time.
Have you explored the social networks for professionals online? Are you member of any of them?
I'm starting to now.
How are you different from others in your professional sector?
I'd say I'm still "old school" in my final art approach. That's not a good thing either. I'm working on it though. Geez-- now I feel bad about myself. HA HA
How is the Interent changing the way you work?
I'm much more aware of what's new. For example, years ago I REALLY loved Mad magazine. Such a neat compilation of different styles to look at. So outside of going to the library and looking for artist biographies I just did my own thing. I can now see thousands of other artist by visiting all these neat web sites. It really does inspire me to get better myself.
Do you do telecommuting?
In 1995 I moved my studio from the 9th floor of an office building (thus the name of my 9th floor greeting card line) to my home. My wife and I were blessed with our son and it was either go out of business or become Mr. Mom/artist. It's been awesome and I wouldn't change a thing.
Do you feel your hobbies serve to elevate your career?
I actually do make my hobbies my career. For example... I do a lot of mountain biking so I draw mountain bike shirts, write about Porcupine's who fix bikes and market myself via bike magazines and web sites. I also like to surf, ride dirtbikes, run marathons, hike, play soccer and do anything extreem. So----- look for a book about a surfing kitty who trains for dirt bike races by running marathons. :o)
Do your hobbies aide in professional networking?
I'd say that my occupationis a good topic of conversation icebreaker. Usually I then quickly change the subject to the other persons career though. Talking about yourself for to long is kind of rude.
Would you relenquish some of your income in exchange for more free time?
What income? No. I make free time and then make myself work when I need to. I'm doing OK in that dept lately.
What are the things you least like about your job?
Being a freelancer is an income rollercoaster ride. I can never budget anything because I never know when the next check is coming. It's hard but it is what it is.
Besides your current profession, what other things would you have liked to have been?
Law Enforcement. Maybe an EMT. I think being a dirt bike race or equipment promoter would be interesting. I realy love going to the MX races and it wouldn't even seem like work. But I would NEVER be a rode a rodeo clown. Those guys are nuts.
What is the most important thing you have learned from experience?
Never give up! You'll want to-- people will tell you to. But don't do it! Being an artist is just awesome. I never get sick of drawing and even when I have an assignment that I don't care for, it's still awesome! Did I just say awesome again? OK-- being an artist is RAD! How's that for dating myself.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Why an artist. Of course! I even knew it in kindergarden! I drew Mike Muligan and the Steam Shovel on my nap mat and people flipped out! Most kids were scribbling but I drew the entire scene in which Mike was made into a boiler. That scene still haunts me to this day! I then drew Benjamin Franklin in 2nd grade and my history project made it to state finals. It couldn't have been because my report was that good either.
Save some excpetions, do you believe professional and personal relationships should not be mixed?
I think you can mix them. I talk to another artist who's work is very much like mine. (He's actually better at illustrating greeting cards.) Each year we go to the Stationary Show in NYC and it's always a lot of fun. We've become good friends and we call each other with any questions we might have.
List any credits, publications, competitions, etc.
I've done work for over 25 different card companies so listing them would be boring. I have done work for Golden Books for Children, 3 of the 4 professional New England Sports teams and even a celbrity or two. As far as awards___ outside of winning some Hubba Bubba chewing gum back in 2nd grade (see Ben Franklin reference earlier) I did win the Mom's Choice Award for my Mulch the Lawnmower book. The books now have a gold seal on them so that's kind of cool.
Ummm... The bible! LOL. And I like the Artist Market Guide too.
How do you handle customer complaints?
See my blog. I had a funny story from early in my career.
Actually, I don't have to many now. If I feel that a customer is unhappy, I keep talking so much that even if a person isn't happy with what I've done, they just want to get out of my studio and away from me.
But seriously, I worked at McDonalds. QSC was the motto. Quality, Service, Cleanliness. It's that easy! Do a good job, care about your customer and don't soak them. Also make sure your studio isn't a pig pen! Complaints are never that bad if you do those things.
Someone wants to ask for a pay rise and they ask you for advice in how to approach the matter with their boss. What do you tell them?
Do not ask me. I am REALLY bad about charging what I'm worth.
What do you do to manage stress?
Bike, run--- kiss my family!
What are the most common mistakes clients make when they judge your work?
I hate when a customer looks at your work and then says-- make it look like this other style. You want to tell them to hire that other artist then but you can't. I end up working extra hard to please those people but in the end I sneak my own style back in and it's all good.
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
When I was in art school, (22 years ago) my teacher told all his students to "wear as many hats as possible." Translation: draw it all so you'd be valuable to somebody. For many years I've tried to do that as a freelance artist but I've learned in the last 10 years or so to pretty much focus my attention on Children's Books, Greeting Cards, Caricature Illustrations and then some logos and spot humor work. I love drawing though and still do as many house portraits and pet portraits as possible. I just don't advertise for them anymore.
Scott Nelson from Scott Nelson and Son