Westmont Professor Scott Anderson Does More Than Teach Art – He Applies It As a Professional Illustrator and Graphic Designer
Scott Anderson grew up drawing, and he has never stopped. His sixth-grade teacher let him sketch if he finished assignments early, and he realized he’d never have to work for a living if he could get paid as an artist. Now a successful art professor, illustrator and graphic designer, he’s doing what he loves and says it never feels like work.
After earning a degree in studio art at Willamette University in Oregon, Scott stayed on for two years with the ministry Campus Ambassadors. On the side, he did graphic design for a restaurant chain.
By the mid-1990s, graphic design had gone digital, and Scott had to overcome his computer phobia to develop as a designer. Working his way through manuals of desktop publishing programs, he trained himself in computer graphics. One of his first projects was designing his fundraising letters for Campus Ambassadors.
While Scott soon became proficient on the computer, he didn’t neglect more traditional skills. For three summers (1997-1999) he attended the prestigious Illustration Academy to work on his painting.
Returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara in 1998, he held a string of part-time jobs as he sought work as an artist. In the fall he submitted two paintings to Westmont’s angel-themed show; both were accepted and displayed in Reynolds Gallery. That’s how Scott met Professor Susan Savage, who hired him to teach computer graphics part time in 1999. Three years later, he was working full time on contract, and he accepted a tenure-track position in 2006.
Meanwhile, Scott continued his education by earning a master’s degree in illustration at Syracuse University and a master of fine arts — the terminal degree in his field — from the University of Hartford.
Today Scott juggles full-time teaching with freelance illustration and graphic design work. His clients include Rhode Island Monthly, Ensemble Theatre Company, Stocks & Commodities Magazine, Wharton Alumni Magazine and other publications. His Web site, www.scottandersonstudio.com, features samples of his award-winning work.
The list of Scott’s honors is impressive: multiple Addys in illustration and design from the American Advertising Federation; Certificates of Merit from the New York Society of Illustrators (2004-2005); two first-place awards in 2008 from the American Association of Museums Publication Design Contest in Fundraising and Membership Materials; and many Awards of Excellence from the University & College Designers Association. In 2005, Christians in the Visual Arts named him one of 30 Emerging Artists.
Winning The Arts Fund’s Individual Artist Award in Print Design in 2008 included the honor of a 2009 solo show in Santa Barbara featuring his original illustration paintings, posters and other design work. He set out to display the challenges of commercial work by showing the evolution of several projects.
Most recently, a poster for Westmont Festival Theatre’s production of “PlayBeckett” earned Scott two Addy awards, a silver in the illustration category and a bronze in the poster category, in the 2010 Coastal California Competition of the American Advertising Federation.
“Creating work on commission and for a client is very different than preparing an exhibition,” Scott says. “The challenge lies in finding a way to create an image that both satisfies the client’s creative problem and functions as a strong image on its own.”
For Scott, one of the appeals of commercial work is the large audiences it reaches. Potentially, hundreds of thousands of readers can see one of his magazine illustrations.
Recalling that he always wanted one of his art instructors to show him how to paint, he tries to provide that kind of step-by-step training for students who feel the same need. He’s excited to see a number of his former students become successful professional artists. “We have such pride as a department in students who find sustaining work that is art-related,” he says. “It’s one of the highlights of teaching.”