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News > Alumni News > Alumni Spotlight > Alumna Spotlight: Laura Pizzarello Scott '87

Alumna Spotlight: Laura Pizzarello Scott '87

"I've lived in San Francisco for nearly 27 years but last month moved back to Providence to start a new adventure in the town I left when I was 17."
Laura Scott Headshot
Laura Scott Headshot

Tell us a little about yourself, when did you graduate? Where do you live?

I entered Wheeler in 2nd grade, graduating with a fantastic class and classmates in 1987. From there I headed to Colby College, happily spending my fall semester of junior year in Paris studying French Contemporary Art & Literature. I graduated with a double major in English and Art History and then headed to Washington, D.C., spending nearly five years working in communications on Capitol Hill. From there I made my way out to San Francisco where I received an MFA in Graphic Design from Academy of Art University. I’ve lived in San Francisco for nearly 27 years, but last month moved back to Providence to start a new adventure in the town I left when I was 17.

Describe your current job and how you got there.

I founded Studio Scott in 2009—a boutique graphic design firm specializing in brand identity, branding systems, packaging, digital design and environmental graphics. My current role is principal and creative director, and I’m fortunate to have a talented team and a diverse and passionate group of clients. When I first graduated from the Academy of Art I did quite a bit of freelancing in San Francisco—from larger shops to small. In 1999 I joined the San Francisco office of Pentagram Design, working as an associate with partner Kit Hinrichs. Pentagram was a brilliant place to work, from the design to the people. I am ever grateful for my tenure at Pentagram, because it was there that I gained the experience and confidence to start my own design firm.

You started your own business several years ago - do you have any advice for those thinking about starting a business? What is something you wish you knew when starting Studio Scott?

I wish that any graduate program in the commercial arts had both marketing and business courses as a prerequisites. I wish someone had told me to hire a bookkeeper at the outset to free up more of my time to do business development. I wish I’d had some initial guidance on how to scale and determine what size team to build toward. I wish there was more guidance on how to price projects and so that I didn’t learn by underestimating. And I wish someone had told me how time consuming writing proposals is. :)  As for advice, I would say to ask for help whenever you’re unsure. Ask a million questions. And make sure you have a plan in place to be able to take a vacation—a real vacation. That might mean having a partner or a trusted person to steer the ship. 12 years later, I’m still trying to figure out how to take a full day off without ties to the office, so I should be taking advice rather than giving it!

What is your favorite memory from your time at Wheeler?

It’s so hard to think about a single favorite memory—there are just so many. Playing tetherball before school started in the little space between Hope Building and the lower school building (a space that’s no longer there). Watching the upper school production of South Pacific when I was a lower schooler and seeing the faculty as actors and singers in a whole new light. I loved playing field hockey and lacrosse at the farm. Playing handbells and touring around in the van. One memory that particularly stands out was our 5th grade trip to Washington D.C., led by Mr and Mrs Johnson Harris and Mr Cain. We went to all the Smithsonians and, memorably, I was so mesmerized by the pendulum in the Museum of American History that I didn’t know our group had moved on!

What are one or two of your proudest professional or personal accomplishments?

On the adventure side: Climbing Half Dome in Yosemite and doing a month-long sea kayaking trip in Baja with NOLS. On the professional side, being nominated for and receiving the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) SF Fellow Award in 2018.

What would you consider the most important thing you learned at Wheeler?

Social service and teamwork. Looking out for and helping those who need it, with kindness. It’s not just enough to be aware of ourselves in our communities, but we must be active participants.

What person, activity, or experience most influenced you while at Wheeler? How?

There were so many people who had a profoud impact on my Wheeler experience. Mrs. Poirier (then Ms. Banas) gave me my a-ha moment via Algebra. Baldie and Ms. Carlson helped me become an athlete. Mr. Hufstader helped me see that the act of reading a book out loud was a gift. Mrs. Francisco made upper school into a family. Mr. Harris for seeing and cultivating our individuality. The wonderful thing about Wheeler for me is that it is 11 collective years of people, activities and experiences that had the most influence—not a single moment.

Describe Wheeler in 3 words.

Dynamic. Foundational. Spirited.

What advice would you give those currently at Wheeler?

Attending Wheeler is a privilege, and you should thank whomever is making it possible for you to go there, because it’s an incredible springboard.

What are you most looking forward to most in the coming years?

In this moment, I’m most looking forward to Covid being behind us as a world. And having newly arrived back to Providence, I look forward to rediscovering Providence and being in the daily lives of my family and friends. I have three nieces and a nephew at Wheeler, and in the coming years I most look forward to watching them graduate and chart their incredible paths forward,

Any other comments / thoughts for your fellow alum / current Wheeler students?

When I was packing to move I found a pair of Wheeler sweatpants that must be 35 years old. They’ve definitely seen some action, but, like me, they’re coming back home!

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