UCalgary Alumni Magazine | Spring 2019

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The “Architectural Design” issue.  The main editorial feature in this issue focuses on the impact that UCalgary alumni have had on making Calgary one of the most liveable cities the world.

The main feature is intended to shine a light on the brilliant alumni that have graduated from the university’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. Rather than simply turning this into an Architectural essay (static photos of beautiful buildings), I wanted to go the extra mile and actually get the designers within the spaces they created. I also worked closely with the photographer on the day of each photoshoot to capture people actually using the space. This served to make each story more relevant, personable and alive.

I went over my concepts and comp layout sketches with the chosen photographer and worked with them on all five photoshoot sessions. My personal favourite is the Wednesday Room. It is a very dark, tight and moody space that just oozes a comfortable “speakeasy” vibe. The logistics to capture this mood were quite challenging: on a -25C morning before the bar opened, we were given 30 minutes to set up in the basement before the two models (McKinley and Burkhart) showed up. They gave us 30 minutes to shoot them before they got up and told us they had to go to a pitch meeting (they are very busy… that happens when you’re good at what you do…).

We set these two gents up as if they were the sole patrons relaxing together and enjoying their surroundings. We rearranged and lined up the chairs and candles for the perfect camera angle. I added the touch of some yellow dye to the ice water in the tumblers. With no room to second-guess or shoot for further options, the final image is just outstanding. Huge thanks to Roth and Ramberg Photography for their talents on this one, as well as every other shoot they do.

The other session I really enjoyed was the intro layout. Great story there too: the department has all these building models scattered across four floors. I did some pre-scouting and picked the pieces I wanted for the scene. We arrived two hours before our model (the faculty head) showed up. We set up the scene in the public student gallery space. This meant moving those delicate models (up to 20 kg each) and arranging them on a table array for our model to sit behind. We worked with the existing studio wall lighting because it looked so nice already. The faculty head is also another one of those busy types who is hard to nail down. He actually agreed to book 90 minutes with us a week prior, only to show up on the day with his EA in tow, telling us that he could only give us a half-hour because he had to attend another meeting which he just couldn’t miss. Good thing we had the scene set so all he had to do was step in and look good. Special thanks to our video guy, Steve Chin, for some great ideas and all the bts footage on the day of the photoshoot.

While the previous two stories might suggest that I thrive under pressure, I believe in being as prepared as possible so that little hitches and bumps don’t get in the way of me achieving my creative vision. Planning, planning and more planning. That’s the ticket.

Oh, and have a good idea to begin with.

Here’s a couple of BTS videos I produced from two of the photoshoots:

The second feature (Protecting the Vulnerable), was not designed by me, but it did give me an opportunity to work with an illustrator whose work I have long-admired. Jasu Hu, from New York City, was so professional. Her ability to take our initial story and creative brief gave me the confidence to let her run. She delivered a visual story that augments the written one so seamlessly that the design layout was developed in such a way to become the frame for her work. Well done.

All-in-all, this 52-page print piece is great to hold and flip through.

For the online version, I was once-again paired up with a talented web developer (Nicola is awesome!), and we ported the content to this website within 3 weeks (sitemap, content map and page builds). Same platform as before, so no great shake-up or advancement there. We are trying to get the editorial process more aligned to an “online-first, rich-media” approach, followed by print, but it’s a slow evolution.

Read the online version →

Surge Energy Website

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Eight years after I designed their logo, I was contracted to help Surge with a website facelift. The old website was simply not working for them or their investors any more. It wasn’t responsive and it was a bit of a legacy mess, considering how things have changed, with smart phones and deeper understanding of how people consume information digitally.

The website content was reconsidered with an express purpose of making it easier for investors to get the info they need quickly. The focus was on content and clean delivery, however, I was able to convince the executive team that we could keep it simple and still make it more visually engaging.

Several custom info graphics and enhanced visuals were created as part of this whole re-launch.

View the new website here ».

And, for comparison’s sake, you can see the old site here ».

UCalgary Alumni Magazine Fall/Winter 2018

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The theme for this issue was “International Education”.  Most of the editorial within this issue focuses on the impact that UCalgary alumni, faculty and students are making around the world. I developed the cover concept and design.

In order to make this cover happen, I explored many solutions before our client decided on “Alumni flag pins around the real world”. My initial steps involved exploration of how maps and flags could be shown to imply a “global presence” within a single image. Through this exploration, I decided that a standard printed flat map was “too limited and simple”. So I determined that a physical world/globe would work better, but with so many alumni around the world, I wanted to avoid overcrowding or obscuring the earth’s surface. I worked to strike a balanced ratio of “flags-to-earth”, confident in the fact that the symbology of spreading flags across the continents would communicate this message clearly.

Lacking the budget to commission custom satellite photography, I researched and sourced a flat map image of the earth and combined this with sub-ocean imagery and global cloud patterns. Then I warped the final image for optimal cover positioning (focused on the Americas) and applied extensive image manipulation to enhance the focus, thus making the earth appear more like a “highly-detailed model”. This granted me the leeway to play with scale of the pin flags, so that the overall final effect is a playful and engaging image worthy of further exploration .

For the flag pins, I purchased a box of flag pins on Amazon. Then I took over 250 photos of these pins stuck onto a piece of foamcore, shot from various angles and heights, and pshop-merged with the final base earth and clouds image. For added authenticity, I searched our Alumni database and chose individuals to be our “flag-bearers for the pins on the cover.

The main title (Making or Mark) was chosen to support the “flag placement” without being too literal.

Here’s a brief BTS pdf of how I put it all together.

I also designed all three of the inside main features. Each design concept was developed and executed in consultation with the magazine editor. All-in-all, this 56-page piece is great to hold and flip through.

For the online version, I was paired up with a talented web developer (Nicola is awesome!), and we whipped this website together in less than 3 weeks (sitemap, content map and page builds). Design-wise, I have to say that I found that we were a bit constrained by the corporate/institutional parameters set out for all UC websites. No point getting into the background except to sat that we were tasked with porting the magazine website back from WordPress over to Drupal 8, which is the official UCalgary website platform. As a result, I have begun to improve my Drupal skills. IMO, the Drupal CMS platform that the UC webdev has implemented still has a long way to go before I would consider it to be a proper and comprehensive design solution for online communication. But I must work within their constraints… so there you go… just making lemonade…

Read the online version →

Hempco Website and Investor Presentation

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I was contracted to help a public company with a brand facelift as they were initiating a consolidation merger. They needed to communicate and demonstrate the advantages of the merger to their current shareholders while also attracting interest from a completely new audience. This all had to happen at the upcoming AGM, which was two weeks away.

I ramped up my understanding of their USP and various sub-brands and delivered a fresh and informative PPT deck in time for the May AGM. The website was redesigned and launched just 10 weeks later.

Several custom infographics and enhanced visuals were created as part of this whole re-launch.

The website (built and designed within WordPress) and presentation are available here ».

UCalgary Convocation e-book

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This was a super-fun project that I got parachuted into right back from my holidays. It was a request to turn five webinars into a brief but engaging e-book for new graduates to browse and click through to the official UCalgary Alumni website.

I designed it and got approval on round #1. Then I built out all of the interactive elements and uploaded it after playtesting on desktop, tablet and phones.

Yes, I did the playtesting as well.

Here’s the online link to the piece →

UCalgary Alumni Magazine Spring/Summer 2018

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An extremely impactful main editorial feature focused on mental health issues and research demanded a smart, respectful visual creative solution. The rest of the mag looks nice too, but this case study is primarily about the main editorial feature and the cover.

After reading the written articles, I developed the concept of “We all have baggage” which I tweaked into the phrase, “The things we carry”. This phrase, along with the visuals of each interviewee carrying a relevant form of baggage (ie. suitcase, backpack, gym bag, etc.) delivers a positive message that everyone is affected by the stigma of mental health. The inspiring written phrases on each person’s bag are direct quotes that each person (interviewed and photographed) allowed us to use. We added this touch of positivity to each person’s story because, even though they will carry the issue with them for the rest of their lives, they have also made the decision to be positive about how they deal with it.

Great photography based upon my initial layout comps made it through from pitch to final print. My main challenge was figuring out how to present weighty issues such as sexual assault, suicide and depression without appearing sad or hopeless. I also managed to keep the editorial design more-or-less “on-brand” with the colour and typography choices.

This issue won four North American CASE awards in 2018, as follows:
Print General Interest: Gold.   |   Cover design: Silver.   |   Photo series, Mental Health Matters: Silver.   |   Illustration series, Derring-Do: Silver.

After the mag went to press, I started preparing and populating the content and images into our responsive website magazine. It’s built upon a WP template with some additional custom CSS styling.

Here’s the pdf link to the magazine →

As an added bonus, here’s a quick bts video on how the cover came together.

UCalgary Alumni Magazine Fall/Winter 2017

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I worked with a new CD this time and some great design concepts made it through to print in this issue. We pushed the boundaries a little bit and got some great photographers involved. The biggest challenge was sifting through the vast amount of content bites (150 of them) and turning them into something waaaaay more interesting than just another wordy list. Super-massive amounts of PShop work, btw.

All-in-all, this 52-page piece is great to hold and flip through.

Then I started preparing and populating a brand new responsive website platform for the magazine. No, I didn’t build it from scratch… it’s a WP template with some custom CSS styling.

Here’s the online link to the magazine →

Sol Power Projects Ltd. Website

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Solar energy professionals who focus on the client experience first and foremost. They were looking to improve their corporate public brand while also enhancing their prior industry relationships. The main challenge was their extremely short timeline. We started with the content map and wireframe and agreed that the best approach was to design a single page scrolling site.

Then I went to work.

View the site here →


UCalgary Alumni Magazine Spring 2017

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Solid editorial content leads to another excellent read, in print and online.

My second issue for UCalgary. Same editor (still awesome) and some really great writers/photographers/illustrators to put this 60-page piece together. Great to hold and flip through.

After it went to press, then I got to prepare and re-purpose all of the content for the online version, which is basically another three-weeks worth of work.

After the presscheck visit in Vancouver, I received this bit of feedback from the print rep:
Thank you to all of you. Best presscheck ever! Great design and experience was a key ingredient.”

View the website here →       View the PDF Flipbook here →

UCalgary Alumni 2016 ARCH AWARDS Video Wall

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UCalgary Alumni were looking for a way to acknowledge their outstanding graduates from the past 50 years. They came to me with an idea of a standard printed display (like a tradeshow booth), but they mentioned that they wanted to feature all 64 of their award winners from the past. Sounded cool, but kinda impossible.

I said “That sounds great, but I think it would look waaaay more impressive if it was a true multimedia infomercial-motion graphic-type thingy”. My real intent was to get them to open the parameters of the design piece so that we had a chance to give each person their 15 minutes of fame up on the wall. Their eyes got real big once I started mocking it up and then brought in a video specialist to fully realize the piece within Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro. The final piece, which was a composite display wall built from six synced 80″ LED screens, stood over 7 feet tall and 16 feet wide. Jaw-dropping to say the least.

I pulled this together with the videographer in less than 2 weeks. I am now hooked on Adobe After Effects.

A modified version of the full video loop can be viewed here →

This was a 16 x 7 ft display wall. Try to keep that in mind when you see the teeny video sample.