Lessons from Mentorship: Hugh and Scott

The AIGA Maine Mentorship Program is intended to spark new relationships within Maine’s design community. Starting each February, AIGA Maine pairs emerging designers with seasoned professionals to share their experiences and work towards a set of career goals over the course of three months. Local designers Hugh McCormick and Scott Whitehouse participated in our 2016 program.

HUGH: When first teaming up with Scott, I was familiar with his work, but had never met him personally or knew about his process as a designer. The first thing I noticed was his ability to seamlessly balance illustration and design, placing not only a premium on function, but also creating vibrant, dynamic visuals. Right out of the gate, Scott was able to assess where my design practice stood, and for the past 4 months provided me with consistent and invaluable feedback that helped further shape me as a designer and as an independent contractor.

SCOTT: Hugh was in a fortunate position coming out of design school where he was able to quickly build working relationships and start a freelance career alongside a regular in-house design gig. So, instead of working on how to build a practice or finding your place in the design world, we focused more on areas such as business practice, feedback on current jobs and his website development.

HUGH: Scott and I met on a fairly regular basis. I would bring ongoing freelance branding and packaging projects to our meetings and it was invaluable to have his feedback. These projects varied from identity systems that were still entirely hypothetical, to projects that were going to print the following week. We would exchange feedback via email when we were not meeting and we would send each other work (that was fair game in the confidential department). I could always count on Scott to point out crucial details in the work so I could make adjustments that really pushed the projects further than if I had done them alone.

SCOTT: During our meetings, we focused on:

Business Practice

  • Dealing with taxes and the importance of an accountant
  • Scheduling tips to navigate the often changing world of a freelance designer
  • Questions of pursuing freelance design vs. in-house design

Work Feedback
Gave feedback on 3 various freelance jobs Hugh was working on, all at different stages of the process

  • Restaurant Branding
  • Beverage Packaging
  • Logo Design

Website Development
Gave feedback on Hugh’s redesign of his personal website in areas such as:

  • homepage branding/brand presence
  • background image – what is says about you and your design and how it affects rest of site
  • portfolio organization and what kind of design to highlight

We also enjoyed a trip to my studio and introduced Hugh to my mentor, shared some projects that I was working on as well as enjoyed some great tasting beers and conversation along the way!

HUGH: Going into my mentorship with Scott, I was in a position where I had just signed on as a part-time in-house designer and had several freelance clients that were still in their early stages. Within the duration of the mentorship, I completely overhauled my website, and several of these small freelance projects budded into full blown retainer clients. Some of the most important guidance I got from Scott was business advice how to handle and interact with these clients while balancing an in-house position. Being a young and successful freelance designer, he provided me with advice that was relatable and relevant while being direct. In a couple instances, his feedback was crucial in not only the jobs I took on, but the jobs I did not. Scott placed a premium on design as a business. While it is fun and passion driven, he emphasized the importance of getting paid and also knowing when to walk away from offers. I was in a position where I had recently introduced contracts, switching from hourly to getting paid for the job, and having to navigate taxes as an independent contractor. With guidance from Scott, it was much less intimidating, and helped me get to comfortable positions where I could better handle the business end of it, but really focus on what counts which was the design.

Scott and I have agreed that this was just an introduction, and we plan to continue to turn to each-other with design questions and advice. There is still a great deal about Scott’s work and process I am curious about, and look forward to continuing to learn from him.

Scott Whitehouse is the owner of Scott Whitehouse Graphic Design & Illustration
Hugh McCormick is the Co-Founder of The Hired Wrights

By admin
Published February 1, 2017