To make the most of the six huge windows in our new shop, we commissioned Erin from EB Scott Signs to create a hand-painted motif, as well as the signboards above. We were excited to be able to support an emerging Scottish business, champion a traditional method, and create a display that was totally unique to us.
We chatted to Erin to learn more about her and her practise.
Is there a reason you chose to pursue such a traditional and analogue way of working? Do you think it’s important to preserve traditional methods?
Using an analogue method is important to me because it helped me learn about typography - I never understood it when I was taught to do it on a computer. In my last year of art school I participated in a sign writing workshop, and it changed my whole outlook: I now use computers regularly when designing and laying out lettering. Had I not learned how to draw letters by hand first, I don’t think I would be using typography in my work right now.
I also think preserving traditional methods is important in a wider context because of the impact it has on our environment. Signwriters are trained in how to make something stand out for all the best reasons. When something is designed on a computer and printed out on vinyl, there is generally not as much skill, thought, or personality poured into the work. People are beginning to see this now and there has been a resurgence in hand painted signs over the past few years. As a result our towns and cities are starting to look more colourful, and reflect the characteristics of the area.
What is your favourite step in the creative process, from receiving a brief to creating the finished product?
The act of painting letters is the most enjoyable and satisfying part of the process for me as I’m sure it is for most signwriters. When the paint has just the right thickness, when my hand is steady and co-operating, and the stroke transfers from the brush onto the paper exactly the way I intended it to in my mind - that’s pure satisfaction to me.
A lot of your work seems to be for community projects - is that intentional or incidental?
Intentional. I’ve always had a deep passion for people and their welfare. Individually I feel (and am) powerless when it comes to solving the big issues that we face in our contemporary socio-political climate, but working with and for the community allows me to feel as though I’m contributing to something important, regardless of how big or small the impact is.
Is collaboration a big part of your work?
Yes, I've always preferred working with others over working on my own. It’s not only easier to manage time when you have more people working on the job, but it’s a great way to share and learn new skills (for free). You are often encouraged to approach a project in a different way than you would do working alone, and therefore it can be eyeopening and useful for your own projects - even if you’re not conscious of it at the time. I’m also generally more motivated woking in a team because other people are relying on me to finish something and I can’t let them down. On top of this, it can also be a valuable tool for networking which is beneficial in opening up opportunities for new work. And finally, the euphoric feeling of looking at your finished collaborative piece and saying, “we did this” is a hard one to beat. Having said this, I think it is also important to have projects of your own, where you can explore and develop your own intrinsic creative process and style. It’s important to be able to be proud of something that is yours, where at the end you can say, “I did this”, which will in turn give you more confidence when working on group projects.
Why did you choose to stay in Glasgow after graduating, and have you ever felt the pressure to move away from of Scotland? How do you find the design scene in Glasgow?
I chose to stay in Glasgow because it’s where my connections are. I had more opportunities here because after attending Glasgow School of Art I was part of a valuable and robust creative community. I did go to Paris for 2 months to pursue a sign painting apprenticeship which I benefited from immensely, but by the end I was happy to be coming back to Glasgow where I could transfer my new skills into my own environment. I believe that there are thousands of opportunities in Glasgow and if none of them suit you, then there are platforms and people that are there to help you create your own. Glasgow has always suited me as a city because of it’s lack of competitiveness and its sense of community. There is enough business, creative culture and opportunity in Glasgow for my sign writing business to run. There are less signwriters in Glasgow than in (for example) London, therefore there's less competition and more probability that my business will succeed.
I’m aware that my impression of the creative / design scene in Glasgow is probably going to be different from someone who has just moved here. I have found it easy to be immersed into the community because I have lived here all my life, I have family and friends here, I attended the art school and I’m now working in a studio space in SWG3 (an events space and creative hub for artists and designers). I can say that I find people in general to be super friendly, welcoming and open to helping you out if you need it. I count myself very lucky to be surrounded by an inspiring, talented, intelligent bunch of individuals who have given me tips, skills, confidence, knowledge and opportunities that have helped shape who I am both creatively and personally.
Photos by Alex Martin.
View more of Erin's work on her Instagram.