Scotty Gillespie on Unusual Requests, Ghostly Ceramics, and the Joy of Using Humor in Art
It wasn’t until a “second attempt” to finish college in 2019 that Scotty’s career began. During her graduation show, a local store in Plymouth spotted her work and offered her the opportunity to showcase and sell her work there. “I said yes and I’m done with my first little exhibit,” Scotty tells us. “It was so exciting for me, and the profits from the exhibition, the money I accumulated selling at art fairs and working at my part-time job allowed me to buy my own kiln and start making ceramic pieces in my home studio.” The rest, as they say, is history.
This small but important initial step also meant that Scotty began to attract clients from across the UK, while sharing his designs online attracted the attention of freelance illustration clients like Microsoft, Kiehls and Costa. Today, he turns to making larger scale murals and community work. “The core of my practice is always the same, digital illustration, ceramics and animation. These three main practices give me the freedom to play and experiment, which is super important to me,” he says. .
Social media has almost certainly played a role in helping Scotty raise his profile, and he continues to exhibit his work whenever he can. “Because I work in ceramics, their pictures never do them justice. People love picking up the pieces, feeling the grooves where my fingers have made marks, feeling the weight and looking at the brilliant shine. You can’t really tell. experience that in person, so DIY markets suit that part of my job,” says Scotty. “I’m also a really talkative person, so I love doing real in-person art fairs. It’s a real social event for me. On the other hand, social media plays a very crucial role in making a name for me and is a great platform for me to showcase my digital illustrations and animations.”
Scotty’s continued popularity could easily be attributed to the recurring theme of his work: optimism, happiness and hope – something we all crave, especially in these trying times. “It’s a collection of images, colors and shapes that attract me and bring me joy,” he continues. “I’m quite a nostalgic person, so I get a lot of inspiration from toys or computer games from my childhood. I also get a lot of inspiration from my immediate surroundings, so you tend to see a lot of flowers and landscape-type designs. inspired by the landscape or my back garden here in Devon. Finally, humor plays a big part in my style, and I like to inject my humor as much as possible. Mix it all up with upbeat, bold and colorful brands. C is my job in a word.”
Scotty recently visited Stonehenge for the first time for his birthday, which sparked a new body of work he is currently focusing on. “I was in awe of the history, stones and culture surrounding the area, so I am doing work in response to my time there, most likely in the form of ceramics.”
Elsewhere, Scotty made his first comic for the independent ShortBox Comics Fair. For those interested, it will debut in October. “I wanted to do something I had never done before, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to explore more narrative work.”
In addition to his freelance illustration work and ceramic works, Scotty is also part of Physical Spaces, a local collective of friends who enjoy creating, collaborating and sharing zines. “We all have some kind of affiliation with art, but we wanted to create a space to create fun things, experiment and exchange ideas,” he says. “Sometimes monetizing your artwork can take the joy and fun out of it, so we just do things for the art. It was fun!”
Browsing through Scotty’s illustration portfolio, we are immediately drawn to his Stay At Home piece, perhaps a tribute to those of us who love being at home. “I am a host family myself and am lucky to have my own little studio back home in Devon. It has everything I need to do my job, plus it is close to side of the kitchen, so I never miss a cup of tea. I work part-time at an art center on the weekends, which is good for my mental health. Otherwise, I would rarely interact with anyone “one other than my dog and my partner. Also, doing my own routine can sometimes be particularly difficult, so it’s nice to have something that I hang out with outside my home.”
Of Scotty’s ceramic pieces, each is unique and hand-sculpted, many of which are sold in his shop. His most popular product to date is his series of ghosts that he makes every year for Halloween. “Each one is handmade and comes with a risograph edition adoption certificate where you can name your new little ghost,” he explains. “I think they’re so popular because of the little certificate. People notice when you put in that little extra effort. Last year I made props for them, and they were a treat. I can’t wait to show you what I have planned for them this year!”
Of course, Scotty admits that he often receives special requests from his clients – some more curious than others. “The most unusual request I’ve had is from my own mother. We’re making an urn for her ashes when she dies, not that she anticipates it. She just likes to be organized. As morbid as it sounds like there’s something extremely connected, that makes something so personal for someone who means so much to me I didn’t think I could be closer to my mother until we started to talking about it, and the stigma around death that would usually be present around this kind of subject has eased and lifted,” he says.