Scott Smith makes silver that’s rooted in his Scottish surroundings. He’s inspired by wood carving techniques and the mark making of the early Scottish people, the Picts. Scott’s hand-held silver is perfect for the table and to hold.
Scott graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2021 and successfully applied for a Bursary stand at Goldsmiths’ Fair in 2022. The Emerging Business Bursary (formerly the Graduate Bursary) supports talented makers at the beginning of their career in jewellery and silversmithing by awarding a number of bursaries each year. These bursaries include a free stand at the Fair, a grant towards Fair preparations, and business and sales training from our colleagues at The Goldsmiths’ Centre. Scott’s application impressed our selection panel again the next year, and we were excited to have him back for Goldsmiths’ Fair 2023.
We asked him about his experience of the Bursary scheme and for his top application tips now that he’s lived through it twice!
If you’re thinking of applying for Goldsmiths’ Fair and want to know more about the Emerging Business Bursary, read all the details here.
How many years have you been running your business?
I graduated in 2021, so almost 3 years now. I became fully self-employed in Jan 2023.
What made you first apply to the Fair?
I had always looked up to the Fair as a benchmark for excellence in the industry. After winning the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council’s 2D Silversmithing category for the second year in a row, Gosset Champagne invited me to host a talk at Goldsmiths’ Fair in 2021. Through this event, I was introduced to the Fair team and taken round the exhibitors’ stands. I knew then that I wanted to work on my application as soon as possible and become part of this gorgeous event.
How did you hear about the bursary scheme?
Head of Fair Harriet Scott gave a virtual presentation to my class when I was a student at Glasgow School of Art, explaining the Fair’s aims and procedures, while introducing the Bursary scheme. Funding is pivotal to the continuation of my career and at this early stage, so the Bursary scheme was very important to me.
How did you find the application process?
The application appeared daunting at first. I kept remembering in my head that I was filling in the same application form as many of my design heroes, Art School tutors & masters of the industry. However, after reflecting on my own career and style, I knew I had to have confidence in my own endeavours and believe in my own work. Slowing down, writing an up-to-date Artists’ Statement and analysing my pieces up to this point helped me put together an application I was proud of.
How did you choose which work to submit?
Curating a small collection of my work that exemplified strong craftsmanship and design was important to me. I didn’t want to just submit images I liked or that worked well on Instagram. I put together a collection of my work that showcased a range of skills and technical knowledge while working as a cohesive collection of silversmithing and functional tableware.
How did you find the training given by The Goldsmiths’ Centre?
The Goldsmiths’ Centre training was extremely valuable; I look back even now wishing I could do it again. The confidence it gave me to discuss my work and interact with visitors to the Fair was so important for my first time exhibiting and I use the skills taught to me to this day in everyday life too. It was so beneficial to meet the fellow Bursary recipients too before the Fair as they acted as a support network before, during and after the event.
Which aspect of the Graduate (now Emerging Business) Bursary scheme did you feel was most valuable to you and your business?
The Bullion Loan was the most valuable to me at the time while preparing for the Fair. It allowed me to work on pieces that were bigger than anything I had worked on before and fulfil designs I had wanted to make for a while but couldn’t afford to do. This was a very important turning point in my career as it showcased my skills on the scale I had envisioned my designs becoming but could not realise without help from the Goldsmiths’ Company.
You also exhibited in 2023, how did you find the application process for the second time?
I was much more confident in my own work and style when applying for the Fair again in 2023. The confidence I had gained through the Goldsmiths’ Centre training and experience of exhibiting at the Fair allowed me to analyse my work and tableware pieces with a more accurate eye. I knew to not compare myself to others or become intimidated by the other applicants and I was able to focus on my own strengths to put together an application I was proud of.
How has the Fair exposure impacted your client base?
I can define my current client base into two categories: ‘Before the Fair’ and ‘After the Fair’. The impact of meeting so many passionate clients who are interested in contemporary silversmithing has changed my business for the better and I am so thankful for the opportunity the Bursary Scheme gave me. It was interesting to speak to people who wanted to hear about my practice and were keen to learn more about my career and support me at this stage in my business.
Was there anything about the Fair you wish you’d known? What’s your top tip for new applicants/exhibitors?
My top tip would be to start as early as you can on working towards the Fair. You need to allow time for hallmarking, polishing, photography, marketing, packaging, display and little things like outfits, accommodation and how you’re transporting your work. The earlier you can start making work that excites you and interests you will make a big difference on your stand when it comes to exhibiting.
I also recommend investing in comfortable footwear as you will be on your feet all day for 7 days, and fill your pockets with snacks you can eat quickly!
Before coming to the Fair, I could have benefited from more research into The Goldsmiths’ Company, the roles that members of the Company have within the industry and learn who’s who when it comes to the Prime Wardens, current and past, Liverymen and Hall staff and how each of these people could help my career and learn what to ask to enhance my Fair experience.
We can definitely help with that, Scott!
See Scott’s work on his website and Instagram (@scottsmith.design).
Find out more about applying for the Fair and our Emerging Business Bursary scheme