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Dribbble Interview: Gamut's Shawn Scott on promoting a space for creativity to thrive

In this video interview, Shawn Scott, owner of the San Francisco based design studio Gamut, shares all things running a design studio and managing a team of creatives. Shawn explains how giving everyone a voice at the table is key to fostering a space for creativity to thrive.

Hey, what’s happening everybody. This is Shawn, owner of Gamut in San Francisco.

Your role as a design agency…

We work with all kinds of different business owners at every stage in their business. We get to work with really passionate people who are passionate about their craft. Our role to play is really to support our clients, support the partnerships that we have, really understand people’s needs and create great solutions that mean something and have tons of value for people. It’s not just about design. It’s about you know, how to execute, how to activate.

Everyone's voice counts, everyone's opinion counts. I'm not the expert in the room. I'm learning every day from the people that I get to work with.

Setting expectations for clients…

We’re so so eager to please people. We want to create that excitement around our work. We work with a lot of different types of people. Our role is really to help people feel supported. You know, if you don’t have a clear process, if you don’t have a clear set of goals that you’re trying to achieve from the outset, people are going to get nervous. One of the biggest mistakes we all make is young designers is when someone comes up with, “I’m going to need it next week” and we just shake our heads and say, “Yes.” Whereas really, if we put ourselves in their position and understand the challenge and the need that they have for their business, then we may be able to work out a better way or a better result to get them there through the process.

Having your Team on Dribbble…

It’s great for my team because everyone gets the throw in and have their own personality, their own quality, and style represented individually. As a company, it’s really cool because a lot of young folks, young talent, have been just hitting us up out of nowhere saying like, *“Hey man, would love to join your team.” It’s a community, it’s a place for us to share what we do with other designers. And that’s just a really cool thing.

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Managing the Team…

Everyone here is accountable for their own work, is accountable to the client’s expectations. We have systems in place to make sure that deliverables are being hit. That we’re hitting our milestones and moving the project along the way we need to do. I can definitely count on everyone here that nothing falls through the cracks.

Favorite project…

We’ve been working with a longtime buddy of ours Dave McClean to launch Admiral Maltings over in Alameda. Working with them has just been a really cool opportunity to show all of these different ways that we can activate a brand through packaging, interior design, website, whatever it is, wherever it takes us. We find new cool and exciting ways to tell their story through their product and through their space.

Paying it forward…

I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and help people who come to work at Gamut. We find where people’s strengths and weaknesses are and we identify ways that we can help build their skills and support them. We put ourselves out there. We have to wear our heart on our sleeves and we’re all generally like pretty sensitive folks. You have to have a space—one that you feel comfortable to be able to come and share ideas and not get shot down.

Why did you start Gamut?

I started Gamut with my partner, Ian, to have a lifestyle, to have a life. You know, to be able to make choices with the who we wanted to work with and what we wanted to do. And yeah we had to hustle hard to get to where we’re at. In your twenties, it’s like there’s this idea of empire building where you’re just going for it. You’re willing to sacrifice and put in as much time as possible. Life may change—you may get married, you may have kids, and all of a sudden your time, the time you have in a day, is getting divvied up. Gamut has really afforded me a lot of freedom. You know, it’s allowed me to work on the road. When the going gets tough, when we really got to bear down and hustle, I need the support of my family behind me to say like, “You can go out there and do it.”

Finding a work/life balance…

It’s definitely important in the day to not just grind out you know, eight hours every day but to get up and get away from your desk and take time to change your perspective. You could always send one more email. You could always follow-up one more time. You could stay up all night on your computer. You’ve got to check in with yourself. Check in with your family, the people that care about you, and they’ll help you find that balance.

How do you recharge after a long week?

My wife and I, we go get out of the city. We take drives, we go up to Stinson Beach. We have a tiny little cabin up there that we go crash in with the kids on the weekends. Just getting out of the city, putting the phone down, closing the computer. Go out to Point Reyes. There’s so much beauty around us in the Bay Area. That really recharges me.

Advice for working with Designers…

I think it’s just super important to have each other’s backs. Everyone’s voice counts, everyone’s opinions counts. I’m not the expert in the room. I’m learning every day from the people that I get to work with.

Follow Shawn on Dribbble and find Gamut on Dribbble, Instagram, Twitter, and at

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