Good evening. It was a profound pleasure to work on these projects for the estate of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. As copywriting goes, this is a career high point SO HIGH you can see the entire internet from up here.
While designer Drew Ng updated the silhouette logo that Hitchcock himself originated, we collaborated on a series of ads and products for a brand book that would inspire prospective licensees of the Hitchcock brand.
Then I wrote alfredhitchcock.com, collaborating with designer Dan Parry. There are two randomly queued intros on the site — one with music, the other with an narration. Personally, I love the narration best, because who better to introduce his website than Hitchcock himself?
What better to adorn your wall than a big, bright reminder that films should be enjoyed — instead of languishing unfinished on a hard drive or unwatched in your Netflix queue? Created as a giveaway for This Is New, the Films Should Be Watched poster is 24" x 36" and features a bold message knocked out of a 5,036-word rambling essay I wrote about movies.
This Is New was a website where indie creators of films, books, goods, music, and apps could shamelessly promote their new work to reach new audiences. I conceived and pitched the start-up in April 2013, secured funding by year-end, and we launched in 2014 with a dedicated team.
Typography is fascinating in the same way as architecture, and the average person has the same limited understanding of both. In 2011, I wrote a trilogy of short animated films about typefaces to make the art & science of type more accessible. The style of the films was inspired by retro science films, like Frank Capra's Our Mr. Sun (1956).
Pop Quiz Show is a multi-player, multi-device trivia game where one person hosts and everyone else gets a buzzer. Stephen Peasley and I had the idea while sitting on the rooftop patio at Uppercut, talking about how phones littering tables in modern social settings could be put to good use. Why not connect them with each other to create a table top game?
This was also an opportunity to produce an animated commercial for our app. I wrote the script and Dan Parry designed and animated it. We sourced the voiceover from Vox Talent, who we used previously for our Retro Type Films at Veer.
Pop Quiz Show was designed by Uppercut's Dan Parry, and coded by our friends Kyle Langille and Ronny Fenrich at Decoder. The game launched with twenty 100-question trivia packs, half of which Stephen and I wrote. I sourced the rest from a rogues gallery of freelance writers that included my friends Russell Sherrin, Jhyl Loughlin, and Jon Parker.
Naming things requires venturing into a special hell containing all known words and coming out the other side with just a handful of perfect words... from which a client will see a particular word and think “I cannot imagine it being called anything else.” Here's a selection of the great projects, products, and companies I've named so far.
Uppercut is the creative agency I co-founded in 2012 with other former members of Veer — after that company was sold and our office closed. We needed a new company, so we started one upstairs in the same building. I led the naming of the company and wrote the endlessly scrolling manifesto that served as our website for two years. We won Anvil Awards for both the identity and website.
I wanted to make something Stampede-related in 2012, and the schedule at Uppercut opened up just enough for us to make Stampedisms. It went viral locally, with coverage from local TV, radio, and newspapers, plus a tweet from the Stampede itself. There are 50 to read, but here are 10 to get you started.
When Veer co-produced Gary Hustwit's 2007 documentary Helvetica, I had the opportunity to work on some of the film's promotional materials. The gem of these, for me, was the headline I wrote announcing the world premiere at SXSW.
The ad, which was used to promote many screenings that the premiere, features body copy written by fellow Veer alum Jon Parker.
One of the giveaways at screenings was a two-sided notebook featuring a quote from designer Massimo Vignelli on one side (hint: he hates Helvetica), and a cheerier version of the quote I wrote (with Massimo's permission) on the other side.
My favourite project for Veer, 22 Tall Type Tales is a book of curious, rhyming stories set in the typefaces that inspired them. I wrote each rhyme in the tall format and font, revising and experimenting with the size and content of each line. You can download the book here if you'd like to read the entire thing.
When This Is New launched, we needed as much attention as possible to jumpstart the site's traffic. Zero traffic is zero fun. My idea was to generate local traffic by burying an actual treasure chest worth $1000 somewhere in Calgary, and then sending out daily clues to help people find it.
Not only did traffic spike to hundreds and then thousands of people per day, but we were on the evening news twice, and were able to partner with the good people at Village Brewery to include a bonus clue in 3000 boxes of their new Brunette brew.
In the end, a very nice couple solved some key clues and located the chest, half-buried in the tree line of Calgary's Roxboro Park.
The Very Secret Order of Creatives Understanding was a successful affinity campaign for Veer. A secret society for creatives, SO SECRET that everyone was already unknowingly a member. You're a member too, so feel free to grab your own PDF of the Member Handbook (5.4MB).
The centrepiece of the campaign was the Member Handbook, a direct mail piece (approx. 200,000 mailed) containing the society's philosophy, rules, and rites of passage – seven difficult riddles that, when answered, could be redeemed for discounts. A limited edition t-shirt was produced to help members to hide in plain sight.
2Bit Shop is an online store selling graphic tees featuring pixel-art pop culture references. Designer Dan Parry and I thought it should exist and one week later, it did. The shop was a 2013 Digital Alberta finalist for Best in E-commerce. It was defeated and we cried to the point of dehydration.
The art of persuasion meets the craft of typography in the Dharma Type collection, containing over 400 fonts by designer Ryoichi Tsunekawa. I wrote propaganda posters to sway, nudge, and woo typeface buyers into purchasing these affordable reinventions of 20th-century propaganda, advertising, and hand-lettered signs.
Clockbusters is a game that Dan Parry and I created for Veer, to showcase royalty-free stock photos. With 3 photo clues and 60 seconds on the clock, the challenge is to name each movie before time runs out. Shortly after launch, over 2 million people had played the game and its sequel. Maybe you'd like to play it?
Transcend is a coffee shop in Edmonton, AB that makes the world's greatest vanilla latte. My friend Amanda Schutz was doing some design work for them and enlisted my help for some conceptual and merchandise ideas. The resulting "Drink Up" campaign included kites & hot air balloons on the coffee cups, flying cars & doomed baristas on t-shirts, and a short rhyme destined for other hard goods.
Welcome to Truth Country. It's a roadside attraction on a rural stretch of the information highway. A place where the nearest diner serves 7 different flavours of pie chart.
Fairgoods' founder Xerxes Irani was originally going to use a Frank Gehry quote on this pocket square. But after looking into licensing for him (and discovering that it would be a costly process), I offered up one of my own truisms — I'm always outside on the inside. — a souvenir from living, working, and playing in the wilds of Alberta and British Columbia.
The quote (do you call it a quote if you're the one who said it?) was hand-lettered by 16-year-old Italian designer Mark van Leeuwen.
Fairgoods founder Xerxes Irani asked me for a phrase befitting the cover of a notebook that would be hand-lettered by Positype's Neil Summerour, printed on notebooks by Vancouver's beloved Blanchette Press, and then hand-painted by a dozen of artists and designers making each book unique.
From the five options I provided, Neil chose "Strokes of Genius".