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Inspiring Conversations with Scotty Roller of 714 Creative

Today we’d like to introduce you to Scotty Roller.

Hi Scotty, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
It was 1986 in Orange County, California where I was growing up. I was a freshman in high school. Sitting on a brick planter, eating lunch and out of nowhere get asked to draw up a keg party flier where this local punk band. Instead was going to be playing. The guy who asked me to do it was sent to me from a mutual friend of ours named Irma. Irma had seen the stuff I’d drawn on book covers and folders of mine and a few friends. I did the flier and that started everything going. It not only grew into me doing other art things for people, but it sparked the fire where I knew that I wanted to make art for a living. The only problem is, the eighties were a time when parents told anyone who wanted to make art or play music for a living that those were great hobbies but you needed to do something that paid the bills. When you hear that enough, you start believing it’s true. I was also playing in a band so hearing that repeated all the time just drove me to not only want to do both but succeed at both.

I was playing in bands and doing freelance art projects for people on the side all while holding down a job in other fields, I was overloaded. Something had to give and it sure wasn’t going to be art OR music so the only thing left to go was the day job but I couldn’t just quit, I had bills to pay and rent and all that. I just took the same hustle I had getting gigs for my band and art jobs and put it into overdrive. I hustled hard. I hustled every single day from the time I woke up until I went to bed. It was the only way I was going to get enough art and music gigs where I could then begin to do that for a living and not have to have my day job. I didn’t have a degree from a university or from an art school so that didn’t make things any easier. I definitely needed to know and learn more in terms of art and my ability so I made art. Even if it wasn’t commissioned. I drew every day. Something I still do over 30 years later. I tried different techniques and pushed myself and got comfortable with failing at it and trying over and over until I did it well. Those are things I learned from surfing and skateboarding not from a clinic or university. I still to this day practice this. I push myself to be better at what I can do and to get good at things I don’t even know if I can do.

Hustle, drive and determination got me here without question. I learned a big lesson early on that you can’t miss what you never had. If you have nothing to lose, you got only everything to gain. When that clicked, everything changed for me. At a young age, it was manifested in the way of going out with girls who before I thought were out of my league. Then it became getting a record deal for my band. Then it was making posters for bands I’ve always wanted to work with. There is one key ingredient to all of this though. The one thing that I do that makes a one-time client or project turn into a lasting working relationship is the simple principal of treating people as good as you can. Be respectful and friendly, appreciative and humble and remember that they’re a person first. If you’re as easy to work with and communicate and get along with, people will always want to work with you. That’s the single key to staying in business and growing. Invest in relationships by just being a good person.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Every day from day one is a hustle. It’s not a smooth road. There are smooth stretches but there are more struggles than you can count. Those struggles are challenges and for every challenge, there’s a solution. As long as I keep a clear head, I know I can find a creative way to conquer those challenges.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about 714 Creative?
My partner, Suzi Foster, and I both grew up in Anaheim, California. Hence the name of our business, 714 creative. Going back to that first keg party flier in 1986 and the relationships I’ve made with both national and regional bands, we’ve managed to build a business that still does show posters for bands but also does illustration and creative merchandise for them too.

Posters & Album Covers

We’ve done posters for Joan Jett, Social Distortion, Dwight Yoakam, The Misfits, Chris Isaak, Parker McCollum, The Descendents, Blackberry Smoke, Charles Bradley, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, X, P.I.L. and literally hundreds more. We’ve done scores of album covers and packaging for bands as well, most recently Junkyard’s Lifer single and X’s Alphabetland of which we were submitted for Grammy nomination consideration.

Illustration & Graphic Art

We’ve gotten to work on some pretty awesome projects, no question. We’ve worked on projects for local Austin-area businesses, national touring bands, clothing brands, hotels, bars & restaurants. We get asked most of the time for our hand-drawn illustration and lettering.

Creative Merchandise

We are part of a network of designers, decorators and manufacturers of millions of products so developing packaged merchandise for bands and brands that is clever and engaging is rooted in endless options. We can definitely do the sticker, pin and t-shirt stuff everyone needs and we definitely do a lot of that, but when la Barbecue in East Austin says we want to have our own dice game that we can offer and people will play out on the patio and enjoy a drink with. No problem. We listened to what they were picturing and we made it.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
You’ll never know everything so don’t stop learning. There is always someone who is better than you are. Don’t try to be them, just be the best version of you. Your best asset will be the ability to treat people well and make friends. Invest heavily into that.

Never let anyone confuse your kindness for weakness. Set boundaries and stick to them hard. Have a backbone and integrity. Stand by it even if it means you lose the gig. There’s another one waiting to take the place of that one. Don’t be motivated by money. Just do the right thing and the money will find you. It always does. Don’t take jobs you aren’t 100% into. It’ll show in your work.

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