How to Bring History and Tradition into New Design Projects | An Interview with Scott Fuller

How to Bring History and Tradition into New Design Projects | An Interview with Scott Fuller

Note: On Wednesday, July 22nd RetroSupply is releasing a special font designed from Scott Fuller called SOLID70. If you're a RetroSupply subscriber you'll get an email invite for early access!

I met Scott Fuller of The Studio Temporary at Creative South 2015 and immediately knew he was my kind of people. 

The day we met he packed some other designers in his car and went out hunting for design artifacts in the antique malls around town.

For Scott history and tradition go hand in hand with creating new things. He has a large collection of retro source material at his office and uses it to bring tradition and history to his work.

Plus, Scott is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. If you ever see him at a conference be sure to say hello.

In this interview Scott talks about how he started his design career, where he finds inspiration, how he incorporates that into his work and how he created his first typeface SOLID70.


Thanks for taking the time to let us interview you! Let’s get right to the important stuff. What’s your favorite past time when you’re not designing?

Nice one! When I’m not designing, sketching or dreaming up new products, I enjoy sports quite a bit. Baseball, basketball and table tennis, to name a few (little known fact: I’m a 2x silver medalist in table tennis at the AAU Junior Olympics). Treasure hunting at antique malls, expos and estate sales are always fun. Any time I see a garage sale or a sign for an antique mall, I try to pull over and check it out. I’ve got a wonderful wife, Julie, and a 3 year-old son, Sean, who are my two favorite people in the world! Never a dull moment with those two…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started as a designer?

Like most, I started out drawing with everything from pencils to crappy watercolors. From there, I started drawing for my buddies; tricked-out trucks and NASCAR paint schemes. Early dealings with clients…

I declared Mechanical Engineering as my major, then changed it to Commercial Art right before my graduation from high school. I had NO CLUE what I was doing, only that I loved it. Amazing how much of that is still true today! After 2 years of college, I realized that I HATED fine art. Then, I took my first graphic design class. BOOM. Found my calling! Amazing how much of that I’d been doing my whole life, and I never realized it.

I immediately plunged into an amazing new world. I studied (through books, mostly) under names like Rand, Wyman, Chermayeff & Geismar, Vignelli and Aicher. Their work spoke to me, more than any gallery painting ever could. Their simplicity, craftsmanship and attention to detail was a mirror of what I worked around as a kid. Especially when a lot of that time was spent working as a machinist in my dad’s shop.

I interned at a shop in Atlanta, then moved around a few in-house positions, and now I’m running The Studio Temporary. There’s A LOT more I could say about those formative years, but there’s not enough space in this blog! So, I’ll just leave it at this...

I love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Scott Fuller Interview | USAYou have an unmistakable style that pays tributes to your past but is also unique and original. What is one action based steps new designers can follow to start developing their own style?

Study. Practice. Don’t be afraid of who you are or where you came from.

My dad ran his own CNC machine shop from the time I was 8, so I grew up in an atmosphere of precision and quality. Everything I learned from him shows through in the work I do today. The greatest lessons you learn may not be from the designers of the past/present, but from your own life experiences! Never discount that. I owe a lot to Rand, Bass, Wyman and many other greats, but I learned the most from my dad.

You were recently an artist in residence of sorts here at RetroSupply. You created an amazing typeface called SOLID70. Can you tell us what inspired it?

Rejection, actually. It started as a client logo project, but after the initial concept was killed, I just couldn’t put it down. As much as I love simplicity, I wanted something that was a little more intricate than my usual work. So, I turned to my collection of treasures, and started sketching!

My greatest source of inspiration is my findings at these antique shops. Matchbooks, buttons, notebooks and random objects; I love them all! A pen graphic influenced my line weight. A button helped me realize it could be more intricate. Inspiration just flowed from these old objects.

I have to say a huge thanks to my buddies Jason Carne and Mattox Shuler. Couldn’t have done any of this without you guys!

SOLID70 | RetroSupply & Scott FullerThis was your first time creating a complete typeface. Can you tell us your process for approaching a new type of project (like creating a typeface) for the first time?

Learning on the fly! Really.

01. Inspiration. I’ve got a legitimate collection of old “stuff” that is priceless to me and my work. I had an idea of the direction that I wanted to go, so I started sifting through old matchbooks and buttons until I had my own little “mood board"

02. Sketch. A lot. You can make anything look “done” on the computer, but you’re more free to explore in your sketchbook. Nothing is “bad” at this point. Make mistakes! Try stuff!

03. Consistency. This is key, especially when creating a typeface such as this. I had 5 lines up and 5 lines across. And I stuck to that grid religiously! No slanted lines. That was a big one. I designed a set of parts and pieces that would be used in each character, then just copy/paste when I needed. For example; the Z? Just a backward S.

04. Testing. The curves and hard edges made letter spacing a key component, so you have to watch that carefully. Also, make sure you pay attention to your punctuation. Some of the characters may not be right in line with the stringent grid you designed. That’s ok.

05. Words. Just how it sounds. Make lots and lots and LOTS of words. Test every single combination of characters and punctuation that you can think of.

06. Finish. After a lot of testing and tweaking, I sent it off to Dustin to make a .ttf, and here it is!

07. Sleep. I may need to explain this to a few designers I know...

Scott Fullers retro resource collection

What are the best/your favorite uses of SOLID70?

Oh, man. I can see big posters with 1-3 words, and crazy color combinations WITHIN the characters themselves. Possibilities are endless! Word to the wise; please don’t make a paragraph with this typeface. Make something BOLD.

About the Designer

Scott Fuller is a designer, illustrator and founder of The Studio Temporary. A proud representative of Newnan, GA, he spends his days (and nights) following the motto of "Good Design Wherever I Happen To Be". Scott's work has a rustic, yet utilitarian aesthetic, and he lays it all on the line to create clean, clear visual designs.

Follow Scott on Instagram, Dribbble or Big Cartel.