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LSU Alumnus Spotlight: Scott Bellina
LSU Alumnus Scott Bellina created Bayou Gotham Hot Sauces and attributes much of his success to his education from LSU.
SCOTT BELLINA, BFA GRAPHIC DESIGN 1998
Where are you from?
I was born in New Orleans while my dad was a resident at LSU Medical School. He set up his first medical practice in his hometown, Donaldsonville, La., and then we moved back to New Orleans when I was four. I grew up in Algiers and spent much of my youth visiting my grandparents along Bayou St. John in New Orleans and along Bayou Lafourche in Donaldsonville. I moved to New York City in April 2001 when I was 25, and I currently reside in Lower Manhattan with my wife, Christy.
When did you attend LSU, what did you study (college, major, degree)?
I started LSU in Fall 1993, and I graduated in Spring 1998 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in graphic design. I also minored in marketing.
Why did you attend LSU?
My parents met while attending LSU, but I became a Tiger on the night of November 20, 1982, just four days before my seventh birthday. My dad took me to Tiger Stadium to watch LSU rout Florida State — winning a bid to the Orange Bowl. I’ll never forget the blanket of fog rolling into Tiger Stadium in the fourth quarter, or the moment when the Tigers got penalized 15 yards for “oranges on the field”. I was lucky that LSU would build a top-notch graphic design curriculum by the 1990s because I was headed to Baton Rouge regardless of my major.
I’ve bled purple and gold since the age of six, so I am also grateful for the thriving LSU alumni chapter in New York City. Saturday night LSU football games at Legend’s Bar in Midtown Manhattan is only rivaled by actually being in Tiger Stadium. We’ve had many memorable moments and have been featured on ESPN. The annual crawfish boils are a hot ticket each year — envied and often attended by New Yorkers who are alumni from other SEC schools. I’ve even got to meet a few famous LSU alumni playing for the New York Giants.
Favorite places on campus? Favorite experiences? Were you involved in any student organizations?
One of my favorite memories as a student was in fall 1997. After a long Saturday of working on LSU’s Legacy Magazine with two of my design classmates, we took a break to head over to Tiger Stadium to watch LSU upset #1-ranked Florida. The entire student section stormed the field and nearly chucked the goalposts out of the top of the stadium. Thankfully, the goalposts were returned back down to the field safely while the Tigers returned to national prominence.
As an LSU design student, I was involved in the Graphic Design Student Association and served as president in 1997. Back in 1995, I was told that GDSA Board Members “get to have their own web page,” and I recall rebutting, “What on earth is a web page?” It’s been 25 years since that day and designing websites has made up more than half of my professional career as a creative director. As an LSU student, I was also a designer for LSU’s award-winning Legacy Magazine, involved in the LSU Ambassadors, as well as Greek life as a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
Since graduating from LSU, where has your career taken you?
My career has taken me very far both geographically and metaphorically speaking. Before founding my own branding and design agency, BCBD, in 2009, I honed my craft as lead creative in top agencies located in New Orleans, Dallas, London, and New York City — providing award-winning creative for clients such as Nike, adidas, Cosmopolitan, Showtime, BBC Worldwide, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, the National Hockey League, IFC, eMusic.com, Fuse, Samsung, and the New York Yankees.
But just like all Louisianans — you can take the boy out of the bayou, but you can’t take the bayou out of the boy.
I have a lot of pride in my LSU experience and my Louisiana upbringing. It’s a huge part of my identity and it resonates on many levels with all those I create connections with. In early 2019, I set out on a new creative journey that is a culmination of my LSU education, my LSU relationships, and my Louisiana heritage. After 20 years of launching and maintaining countless brands and products for my design clientele, I’ve created a brand of my own — Bayou Gotham® Hot Sauces — showcasing my deep passion for Creole cooking, the global flavors of New York City, and my Louisiana hot sauce legacy.
My journey through handcrafting hot sauce is rooted in a genuine and unquenchable craving for spicy food, and how it can be presented to others. I’ve been very lucky to have lived in two vibrant cities, known for their mashups of cultures and cuisines. Bayou Gotham® Hot Sauce Brand came out of my knack for creating ways to get back to my Louisiana roots, literally and figuratively, while demonstrating the pride I have for my adopted home of New York City. My goal is to share these sauces, and thereby cultures, by offering people a small taste of what’s so far been a zest-filled life.
What do you do?
I am fortunate to be doing several things that I love. My passion for visual design has generated a mastery of core-competencies in the design industry, including creative direction, brand strategy, graphic design, user-experience design, information architecture, interaction design, video editing, and copywriting. I thrive in building and working with creative teams and individuals.
Aside from my design-career, I am also an ASCAP-published musician, a handcrafted hot sauce boss and entrepreneur, and I volunteer as a life coach for Landmark Education.
How has LSU helped you in your career?
I graduated from LSU in the middle of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. This was an extraordinary time to enter the workforce, and the traditional graphic design skillset I was taught at LSU helped me stand out amongst a swell of talent coming out of “new media” vocational schools which were more focused on programming over design. This mastery of traditional design allowed me to bypass junior-level design positions. I was offered my first job, as an art director, during the Dallas Society of Visual Communications Job Fair — while I was still a senior at LSU. Within two-and-a-half years, I was sent to London to serve as Creative Director for a newly acquired office at the international web design agency that I was working for at the time.
LSU faculty provided me with a competitive advantage and a motivation for leadership roles early on in my career — which has transformed me into the multi-faceted entrepreneur that I am today. It would not have been possible without the relationships forged when I was an undergrad. An LSU graduate provided my first design internship in New Orleans. An LSU graduate got me my first design job in NYC, freelancing for Cosmopolitan Magazine. And now a fellow LSU Design classmate has partnered with me on developing the creative for my hot sauce brand celebrating my Louisiana heritage and New York City experience.
Is there anything that you learned during your time at LSU, that you still use today?
One of the most important things I got from my time as an LSU Design student was accountability, follow-through, and getting out of my comfort-zone. I didn’t get anywhere in my career by being resigned or comfortable with the status quo. My professors in the LSU design and marketing programs pushed me, and now I push for excellence and follow-through in all that I do.
The competitive nature of my major allowed me to be pushed by my classmates. I learned to give up my ego and allow myself to be surrounded by talented individuals. I learned to collaborate. Competition made me better, so I was never threatened by talented colleagues in my industry. What’s created together is always better than a solo effort. It leaves a lasting impression and impacts more than one’s own self.
Why should others attend LSU?
LSU has so much to offer. The more you put into your involvement with LSU, the more it gives back — education, career, relationships, and events. It will provide you with a solid foundation — with roots made of oak which will allow you to grow and prosper. It’s a magical place to be, especially in the fall, and there’s no place quite like it on a Saturday night.