Freshly Laundered 021 / Stewart Scott-Curran


Scottish transplant Stewart Scott-Curran is a designer & CreativeMornings organizer living in San Francisco. We chatted with him about the differences he’s found about work culture in America, accepting criticism, and championing the people and things he loves. Read on to get the scoop!

CB: How did you get involved with CreativeMornings?

SSC: When I moved to Atlanta from the UK, the local CreativeMornings chapter was an amazing resource that helped me meet fellow designers that lived in the area. It really helped me feel at home in my new city. After a while I was invited to speak at one of the events. Since then I’ve worked with the HQ team in Brooklyn on various projects and it just so happened that as I was relocating to San Francisco that they were looking for a new organizer. It was a great opportunity to continue my involvement and give something back to an organization that had given me so much.


CB: That’s great! A sense of community is so helpful to getting settled in a new city, state, or in your case, country. How have you found it working in America? Are there business or cultural differences that have made you go “What…?”

SSC: I worked for almost 10 years in Amsterdam before moving to the US. There’s some huge differences in how those two cultures communicate with each other, especially in a professional setting. In Holland, everyone is very direct. Almost to the point of being brutal. There’s none of the ambiguity you get in the US or the UK. If you approached a meeting or conversation here like you would in Holland, everyone would be offended and you would be labeled as incredibly rude. Of course, that’s not their goal. They just want to get things done simply and efficiently. No one has time to mess around. I think we could benefit from growing a slightly thicker skin when it comes to criticism or direction here in the US.


CB: Agreed! Criticism, as long as it’s constructive, shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. It’s there to help the recipient grow and progress in whatever skill they’re lacking. Was there ever a piece of criticism you received that really helped you take a closer look at your skill set and make strides towards improving?

SSC: Yeah there’s been a few occasions that constructive criticism has really helped me. A great example of that would be when we were designing the Nike World Cup kits. We spent a lot of time traveling to countries to really get under the skin of the soccer culture. We would try and reflect some of those values in the design of the uniform. Particularly through graphics. Ultimately though we needed the expertise of locals and often we would need to tweak the phrasing or execution of designs based on their feedback. It’s definitely good not to be too precious about the work. There’s always someone who can bring a bit of expertise or in-depth knowledge that can make a big difference even if you think you’ve researched it really well.


CB: Speaking of feedback, do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor to anyone?

SSC: I don’t have someone who acts as a mentor in an official capacity but I do have a network of trusted colleagues and collaborators who I trust implicitly to give open, honest, and actionable feedback on any given project or situation. I have had many great mentors in my career however and cannot overstate the importance to younger designers of finding a great mentor. Now that I’m getting older I am trying to pay it forward as much as possible and actively mentor several people. Alongside that I am passionate about connecting people and bringing likeminded people together, whether for mentorship, starting a collaborative project or just people who I think would enjoy each others’ company. Those “real world” connections are so valuable.


CB: They really are! What’s the deal with the links you include at the bottom of every email you send?

SSC: Ah! Well first of all I can’t take credit for the idea. I sent my designer friend Margot Harrington an email a while back at a time that she was out of the country and her “out of office” auto reply had some links to other sites and articles that she found interesting. I thought it was a great idea and tried it out for myself. I switch out the links every couple of weeks and hopefully it encourages people to check out some interesting articles and perhaps lead them to contemplate a variety of issues. It also gives a little bit of insight into what I find important. Often there will be links to articles on diversity in tech, empowering girls and personal growth. I like to champion the people that I care about and who’s work I identify with and ultimately this is just another way to do that. It’s definitely led to some interesting conversations that may not have happened otherwise.


CB: That is a great way for you to promote others works and ideas, and champion the causes you’re passionate about - maybe everyone should do something like this! Thanks for chatting with me Stewart.

You can see more of Stewart’s work on his website, check out his latest project, You Are A Light In The World, or follow him on twitter, instagram, or Medium. Love his Black Circle or Freedom tees? Request a reprint!