Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Moustache State of Mind

Unless you've been held against your will for the past four years in a makeshift underground layer at the hands of a diabolical fiend - and I hope you haven't - then you must be aware of Movember. If you have, get yourself up to speed at

Before the first follicles began to grow for me back in 2007, I had no idea the effect this movement would have on me. It's as though these upper lip whiskers grow an extensive root system that has somehow permeated my brain and left me altered forever. A moustache state of mind if you will.

I first learned of the inaugural Movember Canada campaign from a Toronto Star article. With my dad having lost his prostate to the disease in 2003, I figured my dignity could be put aside for one month in an effort to honour his successful fight against the disease. He had offered himself to a clinical study for Prostate Cancer performed by Dr. Joseph Chin at London Health Sciences Centre and it was during this study that he was actually made aware he had the disease. His foresight allowed for an early detection and offered him some of the best and most experienced care in the country.

Over the past four years I've used the month formerly known as November to grow a Mo and raise funds in support of Prostate Cancer Canada. I just wouldn't have believed before it all began that the growth on my upper lip wouldn't alter me quite as much as the subsequent growth in my brain. The one that increased my awareness and passion to help make a difference against the most common cancer to afflict men in Canada. At least that's my opinion - my wife might disagree. Over the span of 48 months, four of those have been consumed with the passion that is my Movember campaign. Thanks to the extreme generosity of family, friends and colleagues, I've managed to raise over $6,000 for prostate cancer research. I even had the privilege of having friends join the effort in 2010 as fellow Mo-Bro's. Below are links to the campaign efforts over the years. Memorable or just self deprecating? Either way I couldn't be more pleased with what Movember has given me.

Movember 2007

Movember 2008

Movember 2009

Movember 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

I wish I had thought of that.

I imagine this is true for most, but I can say as a designer that we spend way too much time analyzing what's around us. Walking down the street and recognizing typefaces, trying to put a Pantone number to that cool colour over there, and most definitely critiquing other peoples work. And although it's unfortunate that it doesn't happen more often - it's great when you get one of those "I wish I had thought of that" moments.

That was my reaction to Bullfrog Powers latest Pay More for Energy campaign. I think it's great and certainly worthy of a plug. Even better that it's a company that deserves the attention of some great branding minds.

A campaign based on truth – what an enigmatic idea.

Not that Jenn and I are granola eating hippies or anything, but we made the choice to pay more for energy when we switched to Bullfrog back in September of 2007. It was a decision we didn't take lightly but one we're glad we did.

Have a look at the animated video they've produced, explaining how Bullfrog Power works. Maybe it's something you'd consider? You just might get the same twinge of self pride as we do every time we see that little Bullfrog sign on our front lawn.

Check it out for yourself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If you were the client?

I was recently asked by my good friends at CAPIC Toronto if I would consider creating the poster for their next major event. It seems my work for the Chase Jarvis event last November was well received – that and I think the price was right. As they like to say – it's really about the glory! I was equally happy to help out this time as they prepare to promote an evening with renowned photographer, Chris Buck.

They supplied me with a great name for the event, Buck Shot, along with some portraits of Chris and some of his recent work and left me to it. Of course they are always generous with their deadlines too so I had about two days to return some initial creative.

I thought I'd share those initial concepts with you.

This is almost always the case – designer's put a lot of work into the conceptual phase of a project and most of it is left on the cutting room floor. Not to suggest this is a problem, it's all part of the creative process and necessary to ensure the best results are achieved for the client. And although the client always has the last word, you hope your expertise will allow you to guide them in the direction you feel will best achieve results.

If it was up to you, which of the following three concepts would you have moved forward with? Have a look and post a comment to let me know. I'd love to know what direction you might have given me had you been the boss.

To see what CAPIC Toronto ultimately decided, visit Or better yet, join their Facebook page and let them know they aren't paying me enough!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Warranted Endorsement

When asked I'm always happy to make a recommendation on a certain company or brand that I've had good luck with but I'm not usually outwardly vocal when it comes to peddling someone's product or service. So this instance is a little different and only because of the huge personal weight it holds for me.

Days after our son, Rowan, was born his mom, Jenn, suggested we keep track of the special things he accomplished in a log. I managed to take things too far and before I knew it I was writing a daily journal of the incredible things he did every day. Not an easy task to keep up with but I met my goal and recorded each of his first 365 days of making our lives that much more amazing.

I always knew I wanted to create something special with that journal once it was complete but was worried cost might make that difficult. Luckily our friend/favourite family portrait photographer, Andrea Kellaway, recommended Photobook Canada. She had used them to create albums from some of the weddings she had shot and suggested I talk to Shannon for some insight. Definitely a good idea!

With the journal complete, a huge collections of photos thanks mostly to Jenn's persistence and some help from Shannon, I was able to put together a 196 page book to commemorate Rowan's first year of life. Of course it had to be special - a gift for Jenn, grandparents and most importantly - Rowan himself. I always imagined it as something he could hold in his strong hands twenty-five years from now and have some insight into just how incredible he made that first year for his mom and dad.

And this is where the endorsement part comes in - two weeks after releasing my files I met Shannon to pick-up five extraordinarily beautiful, awe-inspiring, Rowan deserving books. Imagine that, so unique that only five exist in the entire world!

I would suggest to anyone - creative or otherwise - to take a look at the Photobook Canada site. To understand the significance of what can be accomplished - from Gutenberg's first press as one of the most influential events of the second millennium to the ability to produce your own single book. That has to be better than giving your mom a blender for her next birthday, no?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Self-promotion or self-loathing?

All the recent updates to the web site, the addition of social media outlets like this blog and a dreaded Twitter account, have been a precursor to a soon-to-be-mailed series of promotional cards. And while many believe that traditional direct-mail may be dead, it is still a vehicle of promotion. I need to drive new business my way and this is just one more way to let local businesses know that I'm here and I can deliver.

My only nagging reservation is the message itself. I certainly don't want to be known as a 'design whore' or the No Frills of creative development. Do I? The message is simple - "passion, creativity, experience, value". It's that final word that strikes a small twinge of fear in me and questions of whether or not I'm positioning myself to sell my expertise short.

But in truth I am confident I can deliver on all four nouns and in doing so offer a valuable service to every potential client. Hell, I already do it for my existing clients. I think it's just a matter of saying it out load that has me a little wary. I can feel the passion; my creativity has garnered strong results for my clients and the best compliment of all - referrals; I've dedicated more than thirteen years to this industry; and yes - VALUE. My business structure doesn't hinder my passion, creativity or experience, but it certainly allows me to offer those abilities at a better bottom line to my clients when compared to the typical costs associated with larger agencies.

I've done the work, I have the fire and I know I can deliver. And yes - all at a great value.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The First Spark

I feel my shoulders tense a little as I prepare to commit to the new world of social media. Twitter account added, Facebook page in place and this blog – all elements of the soon to be released and revamped Igniter web site. Once launched it's easy access to any of the aforementioned outlets. And all demanding the almost constant attention demanded of today's connected, media savvy individuals in order to have any success. I hope I'm up to the task!