ISO50 | Academy of Art Lecture Video

Posted by Alex

A few weeks ago, Scott gave a lecture to my fellow Academy of Art students. The talk was part of the Designspeak lecture series and was open to students and faculty (and 20 lucky blog readers). The room was jam packed, with a bunch of people even crammed in on the floor. The talk covered a wide range of topics: early influences, current design process, Tycho, the blog, and much more. We even got a glimpse of the first poster Scott ever designed!

The lecture was about 1.5 hours long, with a 30 minute Q&A at the end. In addition to the Academy film crew, I was on hand with my 5DMKII to capture some of the evening. Given the massive file size, and limited continuous shot duration on the 5D, I only recorded sporadically, and wasn’t able to capture everything I would have liked. I shot until my memory card filled up and was able to capture a total of 30 minutes of the talk. I selected the shots you see in the video above from this sample.

As I said in my intro that night, it would be hard for me to convey how much I’ve learned from Scott over these last two years interning at the studio. I consider myself enrolled in two design schools (Scott’s, and the Academy) and it was really exciting for me to see these two worlds combined. I’m very glad that everyone at the Academy was able to get a glimpse into Scott’s world and I’m also really excited now to be able to show you all at least a little bit of the talk. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to see one of the talks in person, I highly suggest you make that happen (I think Toronto is your next opportunity). In the meantime, hopefully this video will tide you over.

Recording the talk was another great test run with the 5D and I learn something new each time I take it out. This time, audio was the main issue as I wasn’t able to find a suitable solution before the talk. What you hear through most of video was from the Academy microphone — at the end is what it sounds like off the internal mic on the 5D. Basically the on camera mic is completely useless. It helps for syncing external audio to the video, but that’s about it. For future excursions I am definitely going to look into some form of either a mounted shotgun mic or wireless LAV.

Video Link

64 Comments Leave A Comment


NAVIS says:

April 12, 2010 at 3:35 am

The placement of the microphones during the video of the physicist couldn’t have been more perfect.

That was the best thing I could have watched at 3:30am. Awesome and very inspiring video.


torrans says:

April 12, 2010 at 3:58 am

Excellent. Just what i needed to start a day of designing with. Hopefully ill get to attend one of Scotts talks some day.

Thanks for sharing this Alex


Will says:

April 12, 2010 at 6:55 am

Hey Alex,
I’m an Online Student at AAU (BFA ILL)- is there any chance of the complete chat being posted on the school website? Thanks for posting the clips you shot. By the way, nice to get to know a fellow student – wish you the best on the rest of your schooling, and an awesome internship no less!


Thain Lurk says:

April 12, 2010 at 7:43 am

Hey Alex & Scott,

Thank you so much for posting this, I had the opportunity to talk with Scott at his show in Toronto, and just a few minutes of his time confirmed that I was on my way doing the exact same things he started out doing. He was very nice and took the time to explain his process and was not shy about telling me his photoshop tricks and print procedures.

You are very lucky to be learning from a master of his field like Scott. I can tell you take it seriously and that you are soaking up all you can. I’d like to thank Scott for his continued vision and creative prospective. He has brought a lot to the world of Graphic Arts.

-Thain Lurk


Zach McNair says:

April 12, 2010 at 9:40 am


Give my buddy, Ryan Booth, a shout.
He does things like this all the time:

Ryan also is apart of a live music video production team he started called The Serial Box. He and 4-5 other dudes with 5d mkII’s will shoot live mini-concerts, some on jibs, some held by hand, mostly prime lenses.. pretty great stuff… as far as audio goes, he generally likes to set up pro-tools wherever he is and record his audio there, but does some other stuff with attaching mics to the camera and such. just depends on the circumstance.

His email is ryanbooth [at]


Christof says:

April 12, 2010 at 9:41 am

Fantastic post Alex! I’ve always wanted to attend one of Scott’s lectures, so having a glimpse into this one will hopefully tide me over until I am able to attend the real deal! Speaking of 5D MKII microphones, my roommate has the Rode Video Mic and it’s pretty badass, sound quality seems to be fantastic! (although I’m not a videographer myself) Vincent Laforet wrote a post on this topic that may be of interest to you.


capcha says:

April 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

good post, good video. there was one thing he said in the beginning – he decided not to be commercial designer. ok, but how does he earn money?
is it really possible to build up music studio (and print studio) just by selling posters and t shirts?
especially in early days of his career.
dont avoid this question please. im sick of doing commercial stuff:)


hunter // AAU says:

April 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

@ will: yes, it will be available for AAU-online students — email your online director for specifics. it was great to also have alex there shooting from the same angle as the in-house video folks for scott’s own purposes. the AAU version will undoubtedly not have the plinker-pop overlay, though… ;)


Timothy Long says:

April 12, 2010 at 10:33 am

Thanks for the great insight into your methods, Scott! I admire your work and your ability to remain consistent with your design and music output.


Omer says:

April 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

The quality of video from the Canon 5D MKII is impressive. Which lense were you using on it? I have a Nikon D90 and sound on it is an issue. I read about the Zoom H4n as well but have held off on buying one. If you do buy a mic please let us know what you bought. Thanks.


alex says:

April 12, 2010 at 11:10 am

@Omer – I was using the 24-105mm. Wanted to have the ability to zoom in and out a little bit, and that’s my only Canon lens that can do that.

The funny thing about that lens is I am still so used to using a Nikon lens, that I am having trouble reversing the way I spin the zoom ring. (Nikon and Canon lens spin the opposite way). Super frustrating haha.


Scott says:

April 12, 2010 at 1:33 pm

to answer your question: absolutely. here’s a much longer answer, because I think it’s an important subject:

Going out on my own (meaning no outside commercial work, day job or freelance) didn’t happen over night, it took many years of slowly chipping away at it, all the while working days at a job or doing freelance. I am sure every independent artist has their own story, but mine was just about time and pressure, if you work at something for long enough and are truly passionate about it, you almost certainly will succeed. It was extremely stressful at times, to tell the truth my health sometimes suffered — you can’t stay up working until 5 am and then show up at the office at 10 every day, something’s got to give — so I knew I couldn’t live in both worlds forever, my work on both ends suffered and so did I.

In the end I decided that I had to choose, I couldn’t keep doing both, so I decided to focus on my personal work and see where that led. It wasn’t an easy decision but I knew it was what I had to do to be fulfilled, and I knew I owed it to myself as an artist to, at least once in my life, try to create exactly the things I felt I should be creating. Small caveat: I do take on maybe one (usually less) freelance job a year if something interesting comes through (like the Armada Skis project, for instance)

My best advice would be to try and go part time at your job if you have a full-time gig and then devote as much time as possible to moving your personal work forward (I’ve done this at 3 different jobs over the years, all were surprisingly accommodating). Take some time with that and see how it works. If you’re freelance, you’re already half way there, just take fewer jobs. Either way, you’re going to have to live with a dent in your income, but unless you have a bunch of kids or something, who cares. Move to a smaller apartment, sell your car. Would you rather have money, or be doing exactly what you want with your life?


David says:

April 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Glad you shared this Scott, was hoping to get a seat.
Your last bit at the end of the presentation really was intriguing.
Question for you…

As working as an in-house and freelance designer, I’ve gotten many perspectives on the practice vs inherited ability issue. I have been a designer professionally for the past 3 years, and been engaged in illustration my whole life. I never thought that I was somehow better than anyone else , but always had wondered why I could draw, and someone else couldn’t. Was it surely due to practice all those lonely nights? Or was it something my last art director mentioned “you were somehow born with gene combination that gave you a better way to interpret and depict design than most”.

I tend to think that the combination of both can sometimes shape better designers than others, or totally different designers all together. I personally believe it was my hard practice over the years that has shaped what I do now.

But after reading about 5 year old Kieron Williamson I am not so sure its always a matter of practice. (do a quick google search on his name, his paintings are outstanding)

Do you think individuals could not be born with inherited abilities that help facilitate the growth of desired interests?


Jesse says:

April 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Wish I had attended, I would love to learn from your experience with printing and the solutions you come up with. That is something I feel like I am constantly working to problem solve and improve upon. I can never decide if printing my own stuff (which I do now) is better, or having a print house do it (and dealing with pre-press issues one at a time what I can make the trip to the printers).

Among all the details that need to get sorted out – from packaging, shipping, to online retailer options, I think the printing process itself (including paper choices and where to get it, printer types, color correcting, etc) is the most time consuming and unsolved area in what i do.



Scott says:

April 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm

certainly I think some may be predisposed to certain abilities, I think that goes without saying. I think the point Feynman was trying to make — or at least the point I was hoping to convey — was that, if you have a passion for something and truly believe you should be doing it, you can do it. I was speaking to a room full of design students so it was pretty safe to assume that most of them had some modicum of artistic ability, and at the very least a desire to be an artist.

The overall point I wanted to make was that it’s easy to look at established artists and see their success as a whole and when you do that it looks overwhelming. But the reality is that behind every one of these people is years and years of hard work and dedication, and also, really bad work. You’re only seeing the ready for prime time stuff, you’re not seeing their failures and half-starts. I guess I just want people starting out to know that it’s possible to transcend your own current abilities, no one starts out as an expert (or even good) designer. People have a tendency to look at art as something mysterious and impossible to learn, but it’s just like anything, if you practice you will become better. Everyone has something in them they want to express, the key is just learning the tools to translate those ideas into something other people can understand and appreciate.

And so what if some people do start out with a head start? Would you rather have some innate talent that you took for granted or work toward a just out of reach ideal, constantly learning and honing your skills? Who’s work would feel more passionate, more crafted?


David says:

April 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm


I think I better understand the position of the comment and what you were saying. Initially I took this too technical. I also definitely agree there are years of terrible work before the artist reaches an exceptional position to showcase something he or she can be proud of. (I can attest to this.) I for one share a more greater appreciation for talent that took years to develop, someone perhaps in more recent years like Alexander Calder.

My intentions were not offend anyone or make it sound like I was trying to turn anyone away from this career path. Hope it didn’t come across like that…


Scott says:

April 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

not at all, in fact I felt like I didn’t do a great job of making my point during the lecture (I’m not a great public speaker so I trip up on ideas a lot). I’m glad you opened up the conversation.


Jesse says:

April 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Scott –

Any advice on paper companies/distributers that sell to individuals or in reasonable quantities (in digital print sheet sizes)? Or does your printer just have an amazing selection of paper?

I didnt realize what a paper snob I would become when my files made the transition from the screen to the real world.


thehalvo says:

April 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Scott –

I’ve been reading your comments. Great discussion. Thanks for taking the time to chat with your users.

I would tend to disagree with your above statement “I’m not a great public speaker so I trip up on ideas a lot.”

In reality, you’re quite a talented speaker in my opinion. While you may not win any awards for public speaking, your level of passion for design makes up for it. When you speak to fellow designers your words are like design candy, we can’t get enough of it. And as far as tripping up on ideas I wouldn’t worry about that too much. That’s just a part of the process behind your thinking towards design.


gijs says:

April 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm

– scott

I realy appriciate the way you think.
you’re setting a great example.
I have a lot of respect for you and for what you have decided
to do with your career.

cheers to that!


Charles says:

April 13, 2010 at 12:30 am

Hey Scott/Alex,

I am in my first semester at AAU for Graphic Design, and was fortunate to attend this lecture. I have been following your work for a little over a year, so I was excited to see you talk in person. I’ve become truly inspired by your lecture and music and confirmed that design is what I want to do in my life, so thank you for taking your time to talk to us students about your experiences. I am glad you have this video available for others to watch, since I know how much it has inspired me to work hard and love what I do.

– Charles

P.S.: Alex, you are one lucky SOB.


Drew says:

April 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

Great Vid! I’ve been following your work for quite some time. Also like seeing the 5dMkII video performance… It’s been fun to always check up and see what’s new in the ISO50 studio. Any appointments planned in Salzburg this next year?…we could use you over here! Keep up the stellar work.


• says:

April 13, 2010 at 6:12 am

As many people here did, i also enjoyed looking at this piece of the lecture. I hope to see more in the future…
I regularly check this blog, and i don’t know if you have posts about it, but would like if one day you were able to talk a bit about your experiences with live visuals, for example what programs you use, what kind of material you use for the visuals, maybe some examples, or any suggestions you might have.
Thank you for always keeping us informed and entertained…


Chris Deutsch says:

April 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

This video is fantastic insight. I love both the graphic design and musical sides of Scott’s work. It would be really interesting to sit down and have a real convo with him about music, art, spirituality, passion, etc.

Scott — if you happen to read this and ever find yourself out in Scottsdale, look me up…would love to buy you a beer and chat. Your work inspires me and would love to hear some of your philosophy…I sense that there’s something very interesting down at the core of where all of this creativity comes from. I also wear several of your t-shirts a week ;)




Chris Deutsch says:

April 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm

By the way Scott, I’m really into sailboats, sailboat photography, models, nautical flags, etc. (have a room covered in them) and I LOVE your album cover for playlist #6 with the sailboat imagery. Is there any way I could buy a print of this image? It’s truly fantastic work. Art’s a really huge part of my life (father’s a photographer, mother’s dating a sculptor and I used to be in graphic design and tried my hand in art for a while)…when I see stuff that inspires me, I want to surround myself with it to fuel my passion and creativity…and I would really enjoy drawing inspiration from this particular piece.

Thanks again,



Mary says:

April 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Thanks for explaining your thoughts on natural talent vs. that which comes from dedication and hard work. I am new to the world of graphic design and while everything is unique and exciting, it is also extremely overwhelming and daunting. To know that it is okay to start out with some less than stellar work, as long as I have passion and perseverance, is great to hear. I love your work and am grateful to hear a professional speak so candidly about their successes as well as their struggles. Thanks so much for speaking at AAU, it was a great experience to be there.


mp says:

April 14, 2010 at 8:01 am

Thanks for the video.

Love the look and the sound wasn’t too bad either. One suggestion: frame your shot & leave the zoom control alone. All the back and forth is really distracting.

Personally, I would have framed Scott smaller and the art bigger… since that’s really what it’s all about.


William L. says:

April 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Definitely the push I needed after spring break when I am starting to give up on school. Can Scott do a guess lecture at Sacramento City College? I know it is a city college but I am finishing my transfer to go to Sac State. Plus, I think that Sac Citys Graphic Communications department is amazing. So if that is ever possible, let me know.



Daniel Carvalho says:

April 15, 2010 at 3:03 am

Finally a decent, high quality video of Scott talking. Great stuff Alex, thanks. The sound was great. Hope to see more of this in future.

Scott, yeah, you’re so on the money with the journey to becoming an independant. Quite a few people have gone through the exact same experiences. Myself included. Even though I haven’t fully made the transition yet. The late nights, having to “find” time and energy to work more after getting home from a day job. Going to bed at crazy hours in the morning. Waking up completely destroyed and then somehow, try and get through the entire full work day at your full-time job. Social life being completely stymied. The whole health aspect has actually been a serious issue for me. Getting 3-5 hours of sleep for months is incredibly taxing. Most of my inspiration is during the hours I’m at work. Which is an added reason why I think going part-time is such a good solution. One I think I’m lucky enough to be afforded.

Although, I must admit, I’ve been slack lately and need to get back into the swing of things. Somewhow the late nights have carried over into my normal nights, even though I’m not grinding away at my passion. Rendering the reasoning for the my depraved exhaustion from passion, to just plain old lack of discipline. Shameful.

Man, it’s all about what you want to do for the rest of your life. It takes hard work and sacrifice. People around you might not share the same goal, or be as motivated. But if you’re one of the people that come to the dawning realization that you have to literally create your future job, you ignore everyone around you and strive to make it happen. Because no one is going to do it for you, and it’s not going to be easy.


Kristian says:

April 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Fantastic stuff! I only wish there was more! I’d love to see more in-depth articles on Scott’s workflow and process, focusing upon the Photoshop techniques used in your work. The Tutorials section has slim pickings!


REUBER1 says:

April 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I have this site on bookmark and check it regularly, but I bookmarked this page alone. I’d love to see the entire talk. Also, you do a pretty solid job in public speaking Scott.


rosaguns says:

April 18, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Hi scott, This vid was a great insight into your work! I’m highly obsessed with your color scheme, it’s something which really gives me inspiration and get off from the tract that Im in. I work as an Art director, So you know all the commercial color schemes.
And I always wandered why u wanna name urself as ISO50. Now I figured out! I thought it was just a random name. :) !

Good job Scott! weldone!


Kelley says:

May 2, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Beautiful, I’m not quite sure why but this brought me to tears. This lecture was very masterful and inspiring. Both your music and artwork are breathtaking. Thank you <3


Waggit says:

May 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm

im a creative director of a small agency in London, England and ive followed you and your work for a few years now and ive always come back to your stuff for inspiration and just to see what you’ve found and posted on your blog, or what artwork you’ve produced.

You have a great skill with colour and your own unique style that i love. Everything you do seems to have this rough dreamy but modern retro style and to see your video of you speaking which also somehow seems to have that same style is really cool

Please post some more videos of you speaking. Are you planning on doing any trips to England, (ideally London) to do any talks?

keep up the great work


HD Jet Ski Action!! says:

May 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Been waiting for a recording like this for ages! Thanks all for posting. Scott – loved the physicist’s quote… he just cut all the crap and told it like it really is.


Roger says:

July 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Stop saying “like” so much. Makes you come off as inarticulate and weakens your work, which I’m quite the fan of.


Andrew says:

August 8, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Thanks for the upload. This is a great motivator for me, and this definitely is something I’ll reflect upon.