Scott Arbital of M. Scott Media: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist

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Optimal Performance Comes From Upfront Work

In my career thus far, I am asked how I can juggle so much. I am an art director at a company, own an agency, building on other business endeavors, and finding time for fun. The secret I have found has always been doing as much work as possible upfront. In a scenario where I am building a logo for one of my clients, I deliver 2–3 concepts, but I am creating much more on the backend. This is because if we hit an obstacle, I have more than enough options to go back to instead of starting from scratch. The upfront work allows me to under-promise and over-deliver on all expectations. This is my game plan in both my professional and personal life, which has never let me down.

As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Arbital.

Scott Arbital is an Art Director, as well as the owner of M. Scott Media, a company that primarily focuses on helping clientele with branding their business and building recognition through marketing strategy. All work completed by Scott for clients such as Artistix Fashion, Andy Hilfiger, David Diehl, U.S. Navy Blue Angels, RSA Technology, and more have been well received and effective in building brand awareness. In addition to being the owner of an agency, Scott uses his knowledge as a creative leader to guide creative teams/initiatives, develop new offerings, and build departments in like-minded organizations.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in New Jersey to a loving family who always saw and encouraged my artistic potential. Even though my family had their issues, they provided me with as many opportunities as possible. This allowed me to build my education, both in and out of academics. With this education, a creative and entrepreneurial mindset became a part of me very early on. When I was in kindergarten, I was the only kid in class that colored in the entire sky. I also would resell Pokemon cards to the kids in our local swim club so I could get a treat from the snack bar. As I got older, I wanted to experience everything there was to offer. I tried sports, music, art, writing, dance, and so much more.

Even though I seized every opportunity, I faced a lot of hardship at a young age and needed to find a way to get all of that emotion out. In high school, dance became a creative outlet for me to share my thoughts with the world. I found my passion in graphic design soon after that. Design gave me a purpose and allowed me to share my thoughts in a positive and impactful way. At the age of 17, I started my own design business. Since then I have worked with companies in many different verticals, branded New York Fashion Week shows, worked with high-profile clientele, helped the community using my artistic skillset, and seen my work being utilized in a real-world setting.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a kid, I always had a talent for art but never showed a strong interest. My family and friends encouraged me to pursue this, but it was not appealing to me. I did not know about the various kinds of art that were available to build a career. All I knew was I did not enjoy painting, and I did not want to be a starving artist. Once I hit my junior year of high school, I found my path when I took a graphic design elective class. I thought it would be an easy A. Within the first week of class, something changed for me. What I was learning was exciting and challenged me to work harder than I ever had before. After a year of learning design, two events happened that solidified my decision to make this a career. The first was that I won a competition to have my artwork printed on a skateboard, as well as have a thousand boards made and distributed to underprivileged kids. The second was my father recommended my services to make a logo for RSA Technology. Here I got to see the worth of my artistic ability and saw my concept being used in a real-world setting for the first time. From there I started my design company at 17 years old and pursued a career in design.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It is tough to name one. There have been so many incredible opportunities and interesting stories, but one comes to mind over the rest.

I had accepted a position in an organization as their “Digital Marketing Specialist” right out of college. After about 8 months of working at this company, I realized that the atmosphere, the field, and the job itself were not for me. Around this time, one of my childhood friends approached me that they needed to make a life/career change too. He was making a move to Los Angeles to focus on making music and producing for other musicians. I was asked to tag along with him. Immediately I started to look up places to live and career possibilities. With the excitement, I had to see if Los Angeles was for me, so I hopped on a plane and stayed with a friend who was working in Burbank to experience all the west coast had to offer. The City of Angels had me hooked. Santa Monica, Hollywood nightlife, palm trees, and the drive of everyone I met made my excitement grow each day I was there.

About a month before the big move, we got a call that the house we were going to rent had mold. This was not going to be livable in time, so my friend rented a room from a colleague while I stayed in New Jersey. A week later, my mentor and old boss reached out to me to work together on marketing efforts for Artistix Fashion. I started to experience some of that same excitement, but closer to home. Fashion events, nightlife, seasonal streetwear, and some side gigs for New York City clientele would then launch my name and career on the east coast.

This goes to show that when one door closes, another one always opens.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now I am working on branding various companies through my agency, M. Scott Media. Here I work as a creative partner with my clients to build, launch, and repurpose their brand messaging so that their company has a consistent statement across all marketing material. This includes everything from a logo to their sales pitch. Deliverables are created using analytical data, employee interviews, research, and other forms of education to make sure each company becomes a leader in its field.

Outside of M. Scott Media, I am working as an Art Director at Element Six Creative Group. Here I am helping pharmaceutical and medical organizations build marketing campaigns to both sell to and educate their audience.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

While working with Artistix Fashion, Andy Hilfiger was appointed as the fashion director. Each day, he would come to the office with stories of musicians, fashion icons, and his experiences. He would play his instruments for the staff and add a smile to everyone’s face. At the various events in which Artistix Fashion was a part of, he would bring his band and make the party a one-of-a-kind experience. Also, his network allowed me to meet so many other iconic human beings that came from all over to visit their mentor. I helped Andy with visual marketing and fashion graphics in Artistix, as well as for his brand, Andrew Charles. Working closely with Andy and having him as a colleague was never boring and provided an education that could not be taught in school.

Joe Dettmore is another interesting creative that I met along my journey. He was a creative leader on the Daily Show. I met him during a college seminar. He challenged our group to combine Mount Rushmore, a pizza pie, and a monster truck in a photo collage. I was one of the first ones done, which was an appealing thing since all the art on the Daily Show has a very quick turnaround. He loved my composition and we immediately clicked. Since then he has been a great resource for advice and always one of the first people to like my social media posts. He is full of stories from his experience on a popular comedy central show, and will always make you laugh during any interaction.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?

I draw inspiration from various art periods in history, as well as the visual world around me each day.

Two periods of art that I take inspiration from are the Renaissance and Modern Art eras. I find these are more alike than you would think. The Renaissance is known as a period of “rebirth”. Artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci thrived in this atmosphere by studying the human form and nature. There were deeper meanings behind each piece of art. The art came to life with techniques such as perspective, light, and shadow. Learning from this era has inspired me to build forms with deeper meaning and master techniques that tell a story through my designs. This comes into play when I am tasked with branding a company. A logo can tell you a lot about an organization before giving any further information. The color, shape, imagery, font, and more build a message to the target audience.

Modern Art is a period where creatives went beyond traditional means and experimented with color, shape, line, and meaning. Artists like Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso pushed the boundaries of what art could be and started a conversation beyond what they put on a canvas. The symbolism and individualism of each piece in this era encourage me to reach a similar goal. When working, I look to make sure each design is unique and has meaning. A lot of my color choices also come from this period of art.

Finally, I take inspiration from the world around me. I have always geometrically seen things. Each figure, object, or landscape can be broken down into shapes. A car is a rectangle, a rhombus, and circles underneath all the detail. Visualizing the world in such a way has allowed me to break down both imagery and typography to form a modern, yet unique composition. A great example of this is one of my recent projects for Loud Lion Creative Productions (DJ company). The client requested an 80’s style rock and roll font with symbolism to what they do as an icon. To solve this, a custom font was created which included spikes darting out of the “L” and “N” and cut into other letters in the lockup. This was a technique inspired by the 80’s style, but with a modern twist. Using the shape of each letter, allowed me to create typography that was very unique to them. The icon itself was a microphone encased in an orange and black rectangle. The microphone was built out of a circle and a rectangle before detail was added in. The black half of the outer rectangle shows a blocky pair of headphones. As a whole, this logo shows Loud Lion’s personality before even meeting the team.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

While attending Pennsylvania College of Art and Design and as alumni, I participated in the school’s Designathon each year. At this event, teams would be created and stay up for 24 hours to help non-profit organizations with their visual marketing needs. This was an opportunity I never took lightly since my experience included a soup kitchen, a program to help kids in need, a youth center, and more. Each team would meet with their non-profit at 6 PM on Friday and deliver a presentation with all final artwork at 6 PM the next day. It was amazing what a few designers can accomplish overnight. We created websites, logos, print collateral, packaging, swag, and so much more which helped people in need. The final presentation was always emotional. Not only are these companies getting work that they could not afford elsewhere, but they have college students and professionals taking their time to help out with no sleep. I would not trade this experience and I hope more of these can pop up around the nation to continue and give back to organizations and people in need.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Never Stop Your Education (even after school ends)

In college, a professor of mine, Tom Bejgrowicz, humbled me by teaching one simple rule: “Learn the Rules Before You Break Them”. When hearing this I started to understand that my talent for my craft was not enough, especially since my experience in the basics was short-lived. I started to focus on educating myself before pushing forward. What I found was if I knew all the rules before challenging an opponent, I could play the game on a much higher level. Pablo Picasso comes to mind when I discuss this. He is famous for experimenting with the human form, but at a young age, he first mastered it. His education allowed him to build on a foundation and become the household name we all talk about today. I have adapted this “Learn the Rules Before You Break Them” mentality into my professional and daily life.

2. Optimal Performance Comes From Upfront Work

In my career thus far, I am asked how I can juggle so much. I am an art director at a company, own an agency, building on other business endeavors, and finding time for fun. The secret I have found has always been doing as much work as possible upfront. In a scenario where I am building a logo for one of my clients, I deliver 2–3 concepts, but I am creating much more on the backend. This is because if we hit an obstacle, I have more than enough options to go back to instead of starting from scratch. The upfront work allows me to under-promise and over-deliver on all expectations. This is my game plan in both my professional and personal life, which has never let me down.

3. Leaders Ask Questions

The world is very different now than it has ever been before. My parent’s generation was expected to work their way up in a company for decades. Today, there are CEOs in high school, social media allowing kids to make more money than their parents, and the ability to jump over certain steps in a career if given the opportunity. I have been lucky enough to never be put in a junior role. This provided obstacles where I had to learn fast and make my own paths to success, however in the end I grew much earlier as a director, an entrepreneur, and a man. The key has always been asking questions, not only to superiors but to subordinates, and people around you. Understanding how people feel daily, what the obstacles are, and how you can address them is key to being a great leader. Understanding what others want and allowing them to pave the path takes weight, stress, and time off your shoulders while building those connections. I find that the younger generation of leaders is more inclined to do this.

4. Networking is Everything

Most of the opportunities that have come my way have come from making connections. My dad helped me close my first client because he had a connection with RSA Technology. I started working with high-profile clientele because I kept connections from my internship. The network I have build has allowed me to build clientele, as well as get new opportunities for positions in various organizations. As important as building your network is, it is just as important not to burn bridges. Each encounter is another person who can come back into your professional or personal life in the future. This is very important since they can either be in your corner or against you. As a kid, we are taught that popularity is not important, but the truth is that the more relationships you build, the more people will hold you up when you fall or even when you want to grow.

5. Know The Why

In school, I learned a valuable lesson during a client presentation. The assignment was to help brand a non-profit, which assisted those in Honduras after natural disasters. Each student presented their design to the customer. They asked me why I chose the color blue as the main hue of their logo. I explained that this color helps represent the sensitivity of their mission statement while helping to show their community that they are a calming company to trust in harsh times. A classmate of mine was asked the same question, but he chose red instead. His answer was as simple as “because I liked it”. My design ended up being chosen because of the meaning behind each decision I made. Not only do I keep this in mind when selling my work to customers, but also when building the artwork. Each choice helps tell the story that the client is trying to express. The wrong choices will not correctly share that tale.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I was once told to make a friend a day. This would be the movement that I would want to inspire. The population seems to have lost the skill to form new relationships in a world of computers, tablets, smartphones, video games, and now COVID-19. People do not communicate effectively or at all. Kids meet other children over Xbox and human beings find their significant other by swiping on a phone. There is a lack of seeing the people passing by daily. If everyone would try to smile or say hi to others, they would make more friends and connections than ever before. You also never know who needs that good energy at just the right time. You could change someone’s day with a simple greeting.

We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.

I would really love to meet Kevin Hart. He came from humble beginnings and became one of the most influential and successful people in the world. I am sure it would be a conversation of non-stop laughs, but I would love to learn how he gets the motivation, drive, and creative ideas to accomplish all that he has in such a short time. As someone who loves to relax with comedy, but also keeps striving for more success, I could see our interaction being one that would not be soon forgotten. I always say that if I reach for the stars and hit the moon, I will be in a good spot. I think Kevin Hart can help me encourage me to hit those stars.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mscottmedia/, https://www.instagram.com/scottarbital/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-arbital/

Behance: https://www.behance.net/mscottmedia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MScottMedia

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@scottarbital

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

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Edward Sylvan CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Edward Sylvan is the Founder and CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc. He is committed to telling stories that speak to equity, diversity, and inclusion.