Artist and designer Lindsey Jo Scott ‘believes creativity is a muscle’

interview by Rosalie Murphy

Lindsey Jo Scott began her art career at the University of Akron. She took a few years off mid-degree, living in the Dominican Republic and Pittsburgh and working at the International Institute. When she returned to UA at age 25, she fell in love with printmaking, fibers and weaving. Then she identified what felt like her niche: Surface pattern design.

“Surface pattern design is an industry within the art world where people hire you to make patterns for anything under the sun. Wallpaper, shower curtains, stationary, wrapping paper, cups for a coffee shop — anywhere there is a pattern-based design, artists can be hired to do that,” Lindsey Jo says. 

She is now an Akron-based artist and entrepreneur, building a career in illustration and surface pattern design. This month’s cover is an illustration from #100daysofpatternsandprogress, an ongoing project that Lindsey Jo is sharing on Instagram @lindseyjoscott. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What is 100 Days of Patterns and Progress?

I’ve been working toward a larger goal of making 100 patterns that I love. I would like to go to a trade show called SURTEX, which is all about patterns, and companies come and license pattern designs from artists for their products. It’s a really good way to make contacts and break into that market. So at the beginning of 2019 I was like, “I want to make 100 patterns this year.” And then it was March, and I was like, “I’ve made two patterns.” 

#100daysofpatternsandprogress is all about making patterns, but also it’s about committing to the consistency of making. I believe creativity is a muscle — the more you use it, the easier it’s going to get. I committed to, five minutes a day, doing something toward developing patterns. You can do anything for five minutes, but sometimes it’ll turn into 25 minutes or an hour and 25 minutes.

One thing I do sometimes, when I’m thinking about my work and my style, is look at other illustrators who I aspire to have careers like. I scroll all the way down to the bottom of their Instagrams. What did their work look like before? I can always see that it changed. And I imagine that, one day, that will be me. I don’t want to contribute to the idea that everything is perfect. I want people to understand that it is progress, and there is a process, and you don’t start by being amazing. You have to practice to get there. 

How did you begin your journey as an entrepreneur? 

Step one was coming into a mindset of making work for myself instead of waiting for someone to give me work. You have to make the work you want to be hired for. That’s ongoing, even after having had clients — developing new ideas, making new projects. There are other industries that I want to be hired for, so I’m self-directing those projects and making them myself.

Entrepreneurship and marketing and client relationships — those things are not separate from art. There’s this notion that art is not business, or being a businessperson in the art world is not authentic, and I intuitively was like, “that must not be true, because I know there are people who get paid to make art.” After having built up some work, I’ve gotten clients through reaching out to people, through creating my own opportunities. I know people are looking for art, so I’ve created artwork for programs, for events, I’ve done logos, illustration design. And based on my own work that I’ve made [for myself or my portfolio], a lot of people have hired me to do wall art or patterns or other projects. 

In the beginning, I had this fear of pitching myself, or tooting my own horn. Even now, sharing my work online is very vulnerable, and for a while I didn’t want to do it because I don’t think I ever really, fully love my work. I never feel like any of my work is done. But you have to get to a point where done is done. You’re never going to be perfect, so you just have to get to a point where the creative problem has been resolved, and then you send it to the world. I have this mindset of “the process over the product.” Of course the product matters, but I’m focused on the process of creating the art, and then I get to the creative solution, and then I release it. Every single piece is not going to be perfect. But if you keep making, you get to a point where you learn your system and you learn your style, and action is the only way to get there.

What is Side Project Sessions – Ohio? 

My desire to start [an Ohio chapter of Melbourne, Australia-based Side Project Sessions] came from experiencing blocks within myself and my creative work. I have this idea of wanting things to be perfect, and so much self-doubt and procrastination and impostor syndrome and fear — normal things, but they feel overwhelming and often can feel like, “why can’t I do creative work? And how are other people doing work?” But then I talk to my friends who are creatives and they’re like, “oh yeah, I experience that too.” But what if we could have distraction-free time and space to do our thing and then feel good?

That’s why I wanted to start Side Project Sessions… There’s something about this intentional productivity within a communal space. It’s different than working at a coffee shop because we’re all there with the same intention. We call it peer-pressured productivity. It is a sense of other people around, in what is really a guided, facilitated workshop to focus on your side project. Some people use the time for things they dread and wouldn’t be able to do without the support of people. Other use it for life-giving reading because they don’t have time otherwise. I kind of think of it as a yoga class for your productivity, in the same way that you put a fitness class on your schedule and you go there and it’s the only thing you’re doing. 

I think that when people are really dedicated to whatever activity they’ve been putting off, it makes the world a better place. Not to sound too cliche, but I really do believe that when people are pursuing things that bring them to life, the world is better, because people are more alive.

Follow Lindsey Jo Scott on Instagram @lindseyjoscott. 

Learn more about Side Project Sessions – Ohio on Instagram at @sideprojectsessions_ohio.

SPS – Ohio meets on the second Saturday of every month in Cleveland and the fourth Sunday of every month in Akron. Events last three hours, broken into three 45-minute work sessions followed by 15-minute breaks.