photoshop creative

Inside a designer’s mind

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Interviews, by Mark White
September 8, 2017

La Boca chief Scot Bendall guides us through the influences and creative process of his London-based studio, sharing some of his favourite pieces

Brave New World

Having created art for Grammy-winning Muse and Oscar-winning Black Swan, Scot Bendall has come a long way from his first Notting Hill studio. “When we started we had a scanner on the sink, not to mention the mice,” Scot recalls. “It was horrible. Slowly, the projects and the studio improved… Sort of!”

How did you first get into design, and what were the early days of La Boca like?

I first got into graffiti in my early teens and from that developed an interest in design. We’re talking about the Eighties, I was into subway art, Vaughn Bode comics, Nike sneakers and records. In 2002 I started La Boca with my business partner, Alain. At first I was the sole designer, in a converted bathroom above an old record shop on Portobello Road.

Records and music seem to be huge influences in your work. Were you surprised by the huge response to your artwork for Muse’s The Resistance?

It was quite a surprise, yes – it won an NME award and the Best Art Vinyl 2009 prize – but what we were most surprised about was how fantastic fans of Muse are. It wasn’t our first major-label record cover, and I wouldn’t say the project created many new offers for us, because we always try to be conscious of not repeating ourselves in our work. But it was definitely the first cover where we had such active responses from fans.

Black Swan

Who else is at La Boca, and do you all chip in with creative ideas?

At the moment there are six of us. Most of the images we do involve two or three people, and I act as a sort of art director trying to hold things together. We freely share PSD files between us; I’ve always found that our best work happens when more people are involved in the creation. We don’t have egos in the studio either; it’s all about the client’s brief.

From BAFTA tickets to Aldous Huxley book covers, what projects excite you the most?

We’ve been very fortunate to be able to apply our designs to a wide variety of projects. But, my background has always been in music, so vinyl record covers will always be my first love. I think it’s almost impossible for a studio to survive just on music projects alone these days, but when we started there were many studios just working in music. Today record covers have to be projects you take on for the love of music, and definitely not for the money as you almost certainly wont make any!

What are your favourite pieces?

I’m very proud of our film posters for the film Black Swan. They had a huge reaction when they were released and opened up a few debates about what film posters could be. I think some people thought they were fan art or licensed posters, but actually we were commissioned by 20th Century Fox while the film was still in post-production, and then formed part of their official marketing campaign for the film worldwide.

Bombay Bicycle Club, So Long See You Tomorrow

Everything you do has a strong sense of colour, it must be an important factor in your work?

Oh, yes, it’s an essential part of everything we do! I’d say it’s usually among the first considerations on every project. Thinking about it, I can probably come up with a few projects that started with colour before the actual image. I grew up on a grey housing estate, under a grey sky, in a very grey central London, so I always like to think this is where my need for colour has derived from, but actually it’s probably from Milton Glaser too, who is probably my biggest influence.

What are your favourite Photoshop tools?

I still have to remind myself that I started using Photoshop before layers were introduced, Photoshop is so much more versatile and exciting compared to how it was when I first started. We use a lot of the vector tools in Photoshop now, which have improved things massively in recent years for us. I’d say creating airbrush effects is probably still the most fun though. I’m hopeless at airbrushing in real-life, but far more comfortable with it in Photoshop.

What does the future hold for you and La Boca?

We just have our heads down right now, and we hope to work on some animations soon: it’s the one area we’ve never had to chance to explore. It’s also a long-standing ambition for us to create La Boca products and clothing. Hopefully one day!