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August 10, 2017 Scotty Williams on being a paid street artist in Sydney

Five years ago, Scotty Williams decided to get serious about drawing, and we’re all the better for it.

A freelance photographer by trade, Scotty began shifting his focus to design and illustration, painting some of Sydney’s most recognisable murals and creating graphics for his streetwear clothing brand, Stay Sharp Collective.

Hailing from the south of Sydney, Scotty’s work is heavily inspired by surf, skate, tattoo and street art culture. I spoke with him about choosing art as a career, entering into the fashion/retail game, and what advice he’d give to someone thinking of following in his footsteps. Time to take notes.

Australia street mural

When did you first realise you wanted to pursue art as a career?

To be honest, it’s not something that I consciously pursued. I work full time as a freelance photographer and I started drawing seriously about five years ago as a way to express myself creatively, as at the time working as photographer started to kill my buzz, so drawing was my creative outlet. Over time people came across my art and I began to have a little following and from there commissioned work started coming my way.

What is it about street art and painting murals that inspires you the most?

I’ve only recently got into painting murals, it’s been a big learning curve but I’ve really enjoyed doing it. I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You won’t grow otherwise.

Welcome To Cronulla finalcolour

Is the local Sydney street art scene supportive? Do you feel a good sense of community?

Yeah, I found that everyone I have met, be it in person or through social media, are always super friendly and supportive. I vibe on what other artists are doing. Some industries can be very cut throat but I find the art scene to be incredibly supportive and welcoming, which is rad.

Was starting your street wear brand, Stay Sharp Collective, always part of the master plan or did that evolve organically over the last few years?

Stay Sharp Co was the brain child of my mate, Tutty. I never had any interest in starting a brand but when he asked me to come on board at the start I didn’t have much else going on and I figured it would be a good opportunity to get my art out there. I’ve learnt a lot over the years because of it.

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What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students or young adults looking to follow in your footsteps as an artist and/or small business owner?

Just to get out there and do it. So many people talk about doing things but never do. I’m a firm believer in having a dream or goal and working hard to achieve it. Stay up late and practice your craft, whatever that is. I had zero idea about the streetwear industry when I started out, but we threw ourselves in the deep end and learnt as we went. Everyone starts from the bottom.

Erin Bromhead
is a contributor for A•STAR