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Dan Wilson meets Nick Scott, Art Director at Secretly Group

In our Industry Interviews, we ask one of our Shillington Teachers to interview a creative they admire—this can be a friend or someone new from across the creative spectrum. First off, Shillington Online Teacher Dan Wilson chats to Nick Scott, aka Narcsville, Art Director at Secretly Group.

Dan is a graphic artist and designer, with a love for smileys, nature and t-shirts. He creates work for musicians, bands and brands around the world. He first met Nick when they were both studying in Leeds in 2002 and has been following his career ever since.

Nick, who’s been working under the name Narcsville for around the last 18 years, is a multi hyphenate—an art director, graphic designer, collage artist and screenprinter. From his London Fields studio, he works with musicians and bands across the world, most notably Northern indie band The Cribs.

Dan chatted to Nick in October 2022 to talk about how he got to where he is now, self-initiated projects and lots more. Happy reading!

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your current role?

My name is Nick Scott, I’ve worked across the creative industries doing a wide variety of things since 2004 and I’m currently an art director at Secretly Group.  

Secretly Group is a combination of record labels based out of Bloomington, Indiana in the US with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Sydney.  I look after artists on Secretly Canadian, Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar and Saddest Factory Records, working with people like Kevin Morby, Toro y Moi, Alex Cameron, Porridge Radio, Khruangbin, Marlon Williams, Muna and Bright Eyes.

My role is flexible depending on the needs of the artist. Sometimes they will have an external team, creative director, designer or photographer that they want to work with. Other times I’ll be across all aspects of creative decision making and design. Ultimately my role is to ensure that the visual side of their music is on track and that the team working on the production and promotion of the music have what they need, and that they understand the motivations of the artist.

What journey did you go on to get here? 

I studied Graphic Art & Communication at Leeds Metropolitan University between 2001-2004. Whilst in that city I was involved in the local music scene doing and putting on events that gave me opportunities to work with local bands on their visual stuff. We were lucky that it was a period of time where there were a lot of opportunities for bands to sign deals and put out records so I managed to work with multiple acts who needed record and CD art.  

Designing for clubs & bands led to me being approached to work for a local ad agency on their work for Umbro and the England football team kit launch in 2008, and for the next decade that was the balancing act of my workload. I would combine work on large brand projects at Advertising and PR agencies alongside my personal business of creative direction work with musicians.  

Prior to the lockdown in 2020 I wanted to move away from advertising work for political reasons. I was working in M&C Saatchi and orbiting increasingly closer to Downing Street and wanted no part in the policies coming from there. So when I saw the opportunity to take a role within the Secretly Group I made the transition. 

As a fan of your work, I have always thought that the screen prints you created around 2002 were the moment that your work really came to life and took on a whole new dimension! Does that feel like a significant moment for you too? or am I projecting?

There have been several creative breakthrough moments. When studying I was screen printing as a means of motivation, aiming to produce new work weekly to design, print, display and give away. Something I did again in my move down to London when I was putting on events here. I’ve experienced similar moments when turning my hand to collage, or to moving image.

I think it’s equal parts excitement over discovering a visual form of expression, and finding a platform upon which I can express myself. 

Do you still find time for self initiated projects? and if so do these ever inform your commercial work?

It’s been the trickiest few years for this. When beginning at Secretly, I still had a long standing relationship with one band that then dominated the time I had spare from the job in front of me. I began working with The Cribs in 2005 and in 2020 we produced their 8th album. Due to world events, this campaign ended up being something I led in its entirety from my studio in London Fields, directing & animating two music videos and co-directing two others alongside generating all design assets personally.  This campaign seemingly then rolled into three further projects—a monthly singles club, a live LP, and then a deluxe reissue campaign for their first three albums—so my evenings and weekends were filled with more album artwork.

My aim (!) in 2023 is to make more work for myself again and not take on side projects where I’m not in creative control. 

What advice would you offer to recent grads starting out in the industry?

Get industry experience where you can. When I started out I honestly had no idea what interning was, and when I did find out I knew there was no way I could afford to do it, but spending some time around creative teams is really valuable.

Entry level roles can be hard grind depending on the company, but they can also sometimes be great. I picked up small ways of doing things that have shaped who I am ever since. Particularly in the admin side of my process. It’s not glamorous but it definitely made me a better designer/creative because I could concentrate on the fun stuff. 

I am always inspired by your work for the music industry and I wanted to know if you had a personal favourite of all the projects that you have worked on?

I’m probably proudest of the work with the Cribs since 2015. It felt like they gave me the space to make good work across those 3 LPs and the other projects.I was able to combine screen printing, collage, animation, illustration and pretty much every trick up my sleeve across those pieces. I know it feels like a cheat but those three LPs feel like a singular (massive) wave of work to me. 

This is a standard question from the blog, but I think it’s a good one; Finally, give us five words that describe you and your creative style

I construct worlds with artists.

Big thanks to Nick for chatting to Dan! Make sure to follow Nick on Instagram and head over to his website to see more of his portfolio. If Nick and Dan’s chat has left you feeling inspired, take a look at Shillington’s graphic design course—you could become a graphic designer in as little as three months.

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