The World, Uncorked

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The World, Uncorked.

This event provided a virtual world tour of wines, hosted by select sommeliers in the Calgary market. It was educational and fun. The only thing it didn’t have was a branded look.

So I got involved and designed this hero image, which was used for pre-event email/social marketing and was also proudly displayed on tables and signage during the event.

Here’s a few photos from the sold-out event.

UCalgary Idea Exchange event microsites

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Winner: 2019 CASE Awards, Advancement Practices and Initiatives: Alumni, Student, Donor and Community Engagement Programs, Gold

UCalgary Idea Exchange is a fairly recent program that brings hot topics and alumni from various cities together. The purpose of these events is to give the UC fundraisers and executives a chance to present their areas of research to potential donors in a less-formal situation. It’s basically a mixer with great people and great conversation.

A common courtesy of these regional events was to send each attendee a personalized “thank you” email on the morning after the event. I designed and built the email base in Marketo. After the first season of Idea Exchange, we decided to try increasing donor engagement by using these emails to guide our audience to a personalized website which included a summary of the evening, further related reading/videos, and a campaign fundraising update. Each of these web pages included a couple of donor CTA’s as well as an invitation to sign up for the next event in their city.

We (the web developer and I) researched the existing UCalgary Drupal CMS and determined that it was not robust or flexible enough to deliver the personalized experience. Since there was no proprietary info on these microsites, I suggested and received approval to design and build them on a WordPress platform. We used a base template and designed/wrote/built/playtested the first microsite in less than 10 business day (mainly because that’s how many days we had until the next Idea Exchange event ;^)

The design was developed to reflect the existing UCalgary online brand presence, in order to provide a seamless transition from Idea Exchange through to the official campaign donation portal. I can’t say how many people donated as a result, but the real purpose of these microsites was to drive traffic to the campaign website, and that’s what it did.

I wish I had the analytics from these microsites, because the intial clickthrus to the campaign website were much higher than they had experienced before.

Here are two of the microsites:

Idea Exchange April 17, Entrepreneurial Thinking

Idea Exchange May 28, Energy Innovation

 

UCalgary Alumni Magazine | Fall/Winter 2019

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The fall\winter edition of UCalgary Alumni magazine. I didn’t get to design the whole thing, but I am pleased with the pieces I got to drive. Our cover story was pitched as a campus walkabout/interview with the newly-installed university president. Up until this story was proposed, the university had only released an official announcement email for the media and community audiences. This news release used an official executive photo, as shown below:

My opinion is that this type of photograph is great for certain official uses like a letter from the president, etc. But I did not want to use this for our magazine article or the cover. Too official and too dry. Our editorial goal was to “get behind the office and the title” of our new president and deliver an engaging story that had his personality and tone of voice.

We approached his executive team and discussed our intent and drew from these discussions a better sense of who this man is and, more importantly, his passion for the future of UCalgary. Thus, we developed the theme of “Presidential Perspectives”. Ed is an actively engaged presence in any situation he attends (business/government meetings, teaching a class, having a coffee, etc). He is also super-busy. But never too busy to give you his time and attention. To express this personality, the cover design involved a multi-exposed photo from various candid angles, while the main centre image was crafted to feature his approachable nature and keen focus on you, the reader.

Here are some of the poses we took on the day of the shoot.

 

Immediately after this session, we followed Ed around campus with video and microphones to capture a walking conversation, pausing at a few locations for extra in-situ portraits along the way. These scenes were used within the magazine feature layout and online to augment the story.

I was also the creative designer tasked with designing the announcement email. So, I did something no one at the university had done before… I created an animated email header and custom-coded the 2-column responsive layout grid for the email. You can view that email here →

In case you don’t care, here’s what the animated header looks like:

 

I live to try new things. It all comes down to the attitude of always seeking ways to raise the bar, despite not being asked to. And I really like working with people who value that mindset as much as I do.

All-in-all, this cover and editorial is part of a nice 52-page print piece. Great to hold and flip through.

For the online version, I was once-again paired up with a talented web developer (Thanks Kailey!), 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.

View the online magazine here →

So far, the feedback has been quite positive. I even received a letter of commendation from President Ed McCauley for the many contributions I have made to furthering UCalgary’s reputation of excellence and innovation.

Read it here →, if you want to.

UCalgary Arch Awards

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UCalgary ARCH Awards.

UCalgary hosts an event each year where they celebrate the achievements of some of their most aspiring alumni.

The creative brief for the event kicked off with an initial call for submissions email/social campaign. Some of the initial adjectives used were “prestigious”, “coveted”, “on a level above”, “esteemed”, “special award”, and “gala event”. The overall message we wished to convey was that UCalgary’s alumni are all special in their own way, but we are looking for the standout candidates.

The one carry-over from previous years was going to be the actual physical award. This glass crystal sculpture has become synonymous with the event (winners receive it and display it proudly thereafter). It represents the best of the best.

Once we had these guiding principles in place, the concept came about quite quickly. I bought some gemstones at a craft store and set up a mini photo studio in-house in an unused corner office. I then arranged them around the statue and took the shots I needed to perform the final ad design and image prep.

The final promo image was sent out to support the call for nominations on email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Nominations were up 133% from the previous year.

UCalgary Alumni Weekend 2019

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This portfolio piece is not here specifically as an example of creative. I have it in here primarily as an example of my ability to tackle “agency-sized” marketing design challenges all by my lonesome.

Alumni Weekend is an annual marquee event at UCalgary, which serves to reach out to the alumni base and showcase great ideas and research going on all around campus. Kinda like an open house.

Here’s a brief timeline of how this project rolled through the department (a.k.a. me).

June 20: Creative kickoff meeting to learn strategic intent.

June 21 – July 3: We bounced around several ideas, and presented concepts.

July 8 – 23: I began photographing and photoshopping the 4 demographic scenes. I built each PSD file in a modular way (yay, smart objects!!), in order to ensure that we could update the copy and custom doodles on the various “to-do lists” quickly without sacrificing quality on the imagework. Yes, I did all the sketched doodles too.

July 24 – August 9: Approval on all base images and messaging was approved. There were multiple messages and multiple media buys (focused on digital, with some print signage at transit shelters and on-campus), I took the challenge and ran with it. In summary, I created and designed over 100 digital screen ad layouts, 16 faculty-specific social promos/web banners, 20 email headers, 6 large-format posters for print media, 6 animated transit platform digital ads, and 6 animated GIF web banner ads. I also designed and supplied the t-shirt design.

August 12 – 14: I designed the template for all on-campus signage and handed that project off to a production designer to prepare. I designed the map/schedule brochure.

August 16: All creative assets were reviewed and approved for media release.

I completed all of the above while I was working on all of my other design projects, including art directing and designing the cover and main features in the upcoming alumni magazine.

Despite the lack of internal/freelance resources to support me on this project, I handled it all and did NOT miss a single deadline. The sweat has evaporated and I am pleased with how I managed and streamlined the workflow for this major marketing initiative.

Weekend attendance exceeded initial projections.

The whole team was treated to a catered lunch and I received a couple emails thanking me for my work, plus a single hand-written note of thanks after the event was over, which you can read below:

 

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 Event Graphics

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Certain UCalgary Alumni-focused events were in need of a visual touchpoint. Each logomark reflects the heritage of a common UCalgary brand, yet they are all unique enough to stand on their own.

These brand elements have been employed across print and digital with equal and consistent success.

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 livable 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.

And since I had some time leftover, 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 

Following this issue release, I received a letter of commendation from President Ed McCauley listing the many awards I have earned while furthering UCalgary’s reputation of excellence and innovation.

Read it here →, if you want to.

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 Fall/Winter 2018

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WINNER:

  • CASE District Awards (Best Article of the Year, Writing and Design, A University Without Borders) Platinum, 2018
  • CASE District Awards (Cover Design, FW 2018 UCalgary Alumni Magazine) Bronze, 2018
  • CASE District Awards (Illustration series, How to Walk and Talk Like a Local) Gold, 2018

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 Our 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). For this version, we were also 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… just making lemonade…

Read the online version →