Next week will be my last week at Scott & Fyfe, and as I am typing this, I am trying to remember all the events and lessons that I have learnt so that I may make this post meaningful, inspiring and interesting. That being said, I don’t think that will take too much, as my experience at Scott & Fyfe has been something of a well needed reality check and a definite game changer for my skills (in a good way).
Coming directly from art school (Duncan of Jordanstone), my head was bursting full of creative ideas; spontaneous and bubbling like a sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice about to explode. Nothing was my limit and nothing could stop me.
I was thrilled to hear that I had been accepted into Scott & Fyfe and couldn’t wait to get started. I carried out my research and found out that they are an innovative textile company, producing technical textiles for various industries around the world. All from their wee home in Tayport.
I got started almost immediately. My first project was to design a show board for one of their many exhibitions. I was nervous but again, my ideas helped along the way. After many adjustments the board was sent for printing as the exhibition was in 2 weeks time in London. My first day and I already had my work sent down to London. The exposure was fabulous. However, that’s where one of my first lessons came in.
LESSON #1 JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE UNRESTRICTED, DOESN’T MEAN THE COMPANY CAN BE
Although the company wanted a complete re branding, they also had criteria, rules and guidelines and being a naive art student I didn’t understand why - until later in my internship. As the old saying goes ‘rules are put in place for a reason.’ Whilst Scott & Fyfe were innovative and different to most technical textile companies, they still needed to uphold a professional, definite standpoint within their industry and had to consider all sorts of factors such as customers and market reactions.
So even though they liked my wild and crazy ideas, I needed to appropriate it to the company so that they wouldn’t attract the wrong sort of attention, or even worse, no attention. I learnt quickly though and researched companies to see how far I could go without making myself (and Scott & Fyfe) look like the catch of the day.
My work included brochures, flyers, posters, logo design, leaflets, folders and stationery. I got so much out of this including learning how to prototype, use the computer and my programs a lot more efficiently. In fact, I was able to create a template for some datasheets in less than three hours! (I was a technical dinosaur before and it took me at LEAST half a day to create something of such magnitude) but along with speed, came careless mistakes.
LESSON #2 YOU DON’T SEE ALL EVIL, BUT YOUR BOSS DOES
I made so many careless mistakes while typing and creating but my lovely boss Michelle was quick as a whip to correct and notice all evils that happened within my work. She could notice a misaligned line from a mile away so even though I was engrossed in the work, I still needed to pay attention and focus on the minute details because it is always the little things that count.
The weeks passed quickly while I was working at Scott & Fyfe and I stopped making silly mistakes like that (I hope), and delved into my perfectionist side.
LESSON #3 CAFFEINE IS YOUR FRIEND (even if you don’t mean for it to happen)
In the whole time that I was in Scott and Fyfe, everyone kindly offered me cups of tea and coffee and even on my first day I was introduced to the coffee and tea cupboard. I politely declined, as I thought I could handle the long working hours sans caffeine.
Never have I been so wrong.
After the second week, I learnt my lesson and made tea (or coffee) every morning before I started work. Somehow, the day passes a lot faster and my work gets shipped out quicker.
LESSON #4 WHY SO NAIIVE, SON
One project that really made me wake up and smell the coffee was a special brochure I was working on that was originally meant for the company. However, they needed this done within a tight schedule. The idea was already created during the first few weeks but only at a prototype level with the intention of printing within the office towards the middle of the month. However, the company required these to be professionally printed within a further one week. Whilst the prototypes conveyed the idea well enough, the actual construction and technicality of the art school idea soon became a problem.
The printers said it would be expensive to carry out my idea as 2 machines needed to set up for only a few brochures. In addition to this, a lot of man labour would be needed. It hit me right then and there like the cork from said non-alcoholic bottle in the beginning. I was so focused on my idea that I forgot the actual feasibility of the product. While it was easy enough for me to produce, I could only make one or two at a time. The company needed around a thousand copies and the printers had to have the technology to print and re-create my idea.
But lesson learnt, keep your safety belt on at all times until the idea has safely been examined and we land on the ground.
LESSON #5 EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE
I’m drawing to the end of my post and even after all the ups and downs and rushes and slows, I am immensely grateful to have had this opportunity with Scott & Fyfe. The experience really grew me as a designer, as a person and also as someone who someday wants to build an industry of my own. I understand why it is essential for all students to have an internship. It really does help and change you. What I learnt at art school may be the Cinderella dream come true, but companies that take fresh interns like Scott & Fyfe, help to shape and build the dream into a much more happily ever after that we actually need.
Thank you Scott & Fyfe, for giving me a dose of reality, and a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
Thank you Scott & Fyfe, for giving me the kitten heel that I really needed.
Thank you Scott & Fyfe, for everything.
Written by Ummi Jameel