On Their Way is an occasional series, in which The Times introduces Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduates who have moved on to establish themselves in careers on- or off-Island. We are looking for young people who have distinguished themselves by their accomplishments in business, in social services, in the military, in academics, in fact in any meaningful way you might imagine. Your suggestions will be welcomed by The Times.
Bluerock Design is a new, successful, design business specializing in branding, brand identity, naming, logo and graphic design and website development, according to co-founder Islander Benjamin Scott.
Mr. Scott, a 2003 graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS,) graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a BFA in graphic design in 2007 where he also studied painting and photography. He is an artist, a painter, a photographer and graphic designer with Island roots.
A summer kid, his family moved to the Vineyard Haven side of Lamberts Cove Road when Ben was 12. They followed in the steps of his grandfather, the late Edward Warsyk a well known engineer, house builder and inventor, who had moved to the Island a number of years before.
“Mom’s side of the family has been on the Vineyard since forever,” he said.
He was editor of the MVRHS yearbook and photo editor for the student newspaper “The High School View,” published by The MV Times, where he also interned. Mr. Scott credits the MVRHS for planting the seed of his life’s work and in particular the guidance and encouragement of three teachers, Chris Baer, Paul Brissette, and Dan Sharkovitz and the preparation they provided. “I had a tremendous head start that none of my peers had,” he said of his arrival at RISD.
His transition from high school to college was not easy. “Dad passed away of cancer about the time I graduated from high school,” he said. “I had several friends who also experienced a close family loss at that point. I had seen what it did to them, how it kind of derailed their lives at that point. So I looked at it as my Dad’s last lesson for me and it propelled me forward more than anything.”
Even with his drive to succeed he found RISD to be a humbling experience. “When you’re the sports kid or the art or theater kid in your high school there is just one or two of you,” he said. “But when you get to be immersed in a school like RISD there are hundreds of you and that pushed me even further to do better and to create better work.”
It was at RISD that Mr. Scott met his girl friend and co-business partner Lainey Fink. After graduation Mr. Scott and Ms. Fink spent five years working at a variety of design firms in Boston. “During that time we realized we wanted to be our own creative bosses. It was a driving force we couldn’t ignore.” He pointed out that in the design industry there is usually a creative director who has a very heavy hand in the creative process.
“Doing art is such a personal thing in general that it is difficult to create something you believe so strongly in be modified or altered by someone in the middle before it gets to a client,” he said. “It became that we really wanted to have our own vision be what our clients were able to see, unadulterated, unedited, unfiltered and really raw, not modified or butchered by anybody else. Not to say that we didn’t have some great bosses.”
The name “Bluerock” is a reference to “when you get that first shot of the Island coming in to Woods Hole. In the right light it looks like a blue landmass,” he said. It is also a reference to a river near where Ms. Fink grew up in the Hudson Valley which has blue flagstones leftover from the iron industry.
A good relationship with his last employer made the transition to setting up their own business a little easier. Mr. Scott said he was supportive of the move and that they still do some contract work for him. He advised Mr. Scott that they would see the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. “I can confirm that is definitely the case. It is the most rewarding decision, it terms of being life changing, that we have ever made, he said.”
Before co-founding Bluerock Design, Ben worked as a designer and photographer at some of the industry’s most award-winning firms. His work has been recognized by the industry magazines Print Magazine, Graphis, The Dieline, Applied Arts Magazine. He has shown his art at the Old Sculpin Gallery.
Island fisherman Janet Messineo, through a contact with his grandfather, introduced Mr. Scott into what he calls the “underground clique of Island fisherman.”
It has become a passion. “It is right up there with my design work, art and photography. I am one of those secretive, night and day, stalking, nut-case fly fisherman,” he said.
It helped him get one of his first jobs as a designer/photographer with a fishing magazine. He still comes back to the Vineyard to fish whenever he can in the spring and the fall.
He speaks with a rapid, upbeat cadence reflecting the passion for his work that can be seen in his design projects. “We set off on this journey knowing it wasn’t going to be easy.” We are busy and having fun and most importantly we are creatively stimulated and really engaging with people and making their businesses better and improving their quality of life as well as ours,” he said.
“The ability to work remotely, with clients all over the United States and all over the world via the powers of Skype is a pretty remarkable thing.” Mr. Scott said. “We had to house sit for my parents for two weeks here on the Vineyard and we were as busy as we have ever been but we were down on the Island and enjoying the Island and we were able to be away from our office in Boston and yet we were still able to run our business as if we were up in the city.”
They have separate office areas setup in both his parents house and in their Boston house but are excited about the prospect of having a real office or as Mr. Scott calls it “a designated space” in the near future.
“An interesting thing about setting up a business like this is that the idea of 9 to 5 disappears, he said. “Your life disappears into this one homogenized work and play mode where you are constantly inspired and resetting your clock between work and play. You work at 6 in the morning or 11 at night and when you are stuck on an idea you can just step away and play tennis or go fish. ”
Mr. Scott said business is good. They have Island accounts as well as accounts in Boston and Hawaii and from all over. He likes to quote Thomas Watson of IBM who said, “Good design is good business.” Mr. Scott adds, “If you do good work, do good things it will come back to you in positive ways. We are fortunate and happy with the way things are going and ready to move ahead. ”
Some of Ben Scott and Bluerock Design’s work can be seen at www.bluerockdesignco.com.