Brent Porter a growing “Form & Affect”

Hello, pro topic peeps, this week’s blog is of Brent Porter from Form & Affect. A growing agency in beautiful St. Catherines.


Brent’s contact information

First, Brent asked each of use tells me about ourselves?

This was my response “My name is James Baker, I am from Mississauga, Web Designer, with several years of print experience.”

Bit about Brent Porter

25 years what I have learned
Work – meet the client to complete brand programs.
20 years of print design.
Taught himself about the rules of design when he would design handbills for raves, orchestrate Hamilton’s first rave on Halloween. Later worked for Mohawk Design and later learned about the developing for the internet.
Also… for a time owner of 2-nightclubs. Cool

From Hamilton made the move to St. Catherines; it was art atmosphere that attracted him to his present home and design agency. Located in a trendy area on St Paul street the storefront is reminiscent of an early time, giving the feeling of being welcomed. 

Brent shares Form & Affect with his friend and business partner Paul Vance a graduate of the Sheridan – Journalism program and had worked for CBC, where he created CBC news online.

As a team, they created their first website C-Niagara a destination for people who want to know more cultural events around Niagara.

With this success of this project, Brent and Paul used the proceeds to incorporate Form & Affect. They were one their way to success or so it seemed.

For a time, the work was not coming in quickly enough until Kristina made a visit and explained to Brent that she knew exactly what an agency needs to grow.

Here suggestions worked and Kristina was first of many additions to Form & Affect.

From that point on the business was booming; much of the work came from local wineries with the design of labels. This and word of mouth led to other work and opportunities.

“What works is getting the right fit”

What Brent and Form & Affect are looking for in new hire is someone who shares, helps and adds to the table. Want to know everyone train of thought.

Brent values the team very much, on occasion the studio brings in a special treat from Beechwood Doughnuts. Lucky.

Form & Affect also values his clients as part of the team also including CBC, Windsor, Bell, Samsung, Holiday Inn, Karry’s, Royal Lepage, Visa and many others. Being a competitive business it was a lot of work to get those clients. Emailing information about the agency and sent out developed portfolios – a lot of emails.

Brent explained that Form & Affect clients are friends and partners. He looks to see how boss treats the subordinates, it is an indication of how a relationship will progress.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”

Henry Ford


Brent is an inquiring person; he explained that he sought to understand behaviour, a desire to know how the brain works.


“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better”

Abraham Lincoln

Client and agency relationship is more like a marriage.

The client knows everything about their product. Designers need to get the passion for the info, for the product. It can be tough to get the client to release more details. That is why trust in each other is crucial.


Designer imparts to understand the client relationship – spend an hour with clients – have empathy for clients- patience, clients have bad days too.

Client Case studies



Confection distribution – candy, pop… ship to Walmart, Canadian Tire
Asked question about the process of how they make orders.
With that information, they re-envisioned how they make orders –
Search element was key for the process to work, companies ordering were happy if completing an order was easy. But for some, it became an issue since they continue to use out-dated browser software.
Another interesting tool introduced to gas bars was an app that takes pictures of what needs to be re-ordered, great idea, however, issues with how the camera operated made it difficult to get accurate data. This is where a laser scanning system was implemented and has been in use to this day. For Form & Affect, this client project was technically specific, a great challenge and something to learn from.



A friend of Brent opened a sports bar and asked if he could come up with branding.
Brent was shown a not so appealing log that the owner wanted Brent to mimic. Instead, Brent came up with a better proposal. Since St. Catherines was in the process of redeveloping the city, giving it new life and the city coming together why not make a connection with sports and art.
Move away from the idea of neon and peanuts on the floor to clean, dark, shiny and invite the local artist of the area to produce work of famous sports heroes.

“carte blanche”

His friend was in agreement as long as the budget was low and not 6 figures
A lot of logos were developed as it needed to motivate the average “Joe” into the bar,
help generate talk – to establish a following – tell people that this place is accessible to all. Everything was cohesive in color and environment, even the bathroom logos fit within the Kully’s brand.

Other clients include

20 Valley Brewery

Technotes TV


Average day

The is 9-5 seldom do you work late.

Monday morning meeting- sets what needs to be done.


Like to see resumes from Sheridan

Look for creativity, independent and proactive – be up to date with what is happening.

Like to see stuff that looks cool.

Oh yes, Brent is a member of the board of director for Pearl Gloves Community Promotion Inc.


Thank Brent for taking the time to visit the Pro Topics class and discussing your journey to success with us. It was interesting to learn that you share many of the hurdles that most of us will face or have faced… it happens to everyone especially in creatives business. You lived a remarkable life, provide Hamilton with its first rave and on Halloween “wicked”, owner of 2 nightclubs that must have been fun and finally starting Form & Affect agency from the ground up and growing. It was good of you to share your philosophy and how you were able to help you friends and partners – your clients.

Again, thank you, Brent.

JRC9 Design Studio Jonathan and Cora Cohlmeyer: Protectors for the future

Jonathan and Cora Cohlmeyer

Bit of background

Alumni of the Sheridan Web Design program 2010-2011 Graduates.
Interactive design and web development.


John is a freelance web designer with pursuits in art and photography started career as an internship at CSI – Centre for Social Innovation

Cora started her own start-up at CSI 3 ½ years

Together they became JRC9 3 years 
What a name for a creative team, it reminds me of something science fiction. In fact, the story of who they are part is part futuristic, Centre for Social Innovation or CSI is a social enterprise starting social change and innovation in Toronto and around the world.

John and Cora shows a video that explains the what, where, who, how and why CSI.

Essentially a shared company space that emphasizes social change.

JRC9 are participants of the Ontario Catapult Microloan program – Financial assistance given to “social entrepreneurs and innovators to grow their world-changing enterprises with access to capital CSI’s existing programming and services.”

JRC9 values that are focused on.


Empathy is the experience of understanding another person condition from their perspective – having people live the shoes of others. In respect to the web: how is it going to be used, how others people use a website.


Take the time to be sure that what you are doing will help people benefit from the information and other content presented on a website.


JRC9 strives to work with change, makers who we can learn from, who inspire us and who pushes us to think. Having access to an entire building is a great way to refine and further develop solutions for social innovation.  


Living simply, consuming less; The be kind to the food movement.

Inspiring environment organizations. Greenpeace, The World Wildlife Foundation and Amnesty international come to mind.

CSI inspiration starts the initiative to have warning labels on gas pumps.


Collaboration is powerful
Some of the companies they collaborate with include:


Synthescape Art Imaging

LOOP : Design for Social Good

Studio Jaywall

Teach For Canada


Web projects

collaboration with Synthescape Art Imaging for Pacific Northwest first nations Potlatch cultural museum and gallery in Alert Bay, British Columbia. Worked with Agnes Alfred of Alert Bay.

Favourite project collaboration was with Teach For Canada-education equal across Canada. Education – Lesson plans – will be accessible in schools September.

Teach For Canada works with First Nation of the North providing educational resources. Focus is to track and attract teachers to apply. Collaborated with print and web design and invited another partner Loop.

Highlight of the project was the designing of the Teach For Canada logo and having

Wondereur documenting the future of the art world. The project was so good it was nominated for best photography.

In the past 21/2 years worked with:

World Vision
educational initiatives

International Institute for Sustainable Development –action from hinder

Level-Changing lives through law

Royal BC Museum

City of Hamilton

Burlington University

What change do you want to create in the world?

How do you connect with each others?

CSI relationship with other organizations is like having lunch with colleagues.


The first iteration of a project: 100 pages of changes. Aligning of accessible with interaction, fixing small bugs, browser functionally new and old.

Typical day

Get to CSI early before everyone else. Keep work with work.

Non-profits what are they like to work with – compared to profits?

Non-profits have more value, are patient, understand the value of design, they budget to pay for design – try to avoid freebies.

As a couple John and Cora are business partners – each offers help in one area of expertise’s – but maintaining of personal space is important.

Money, money, money… money. Brent Weaver, Consultant Investors Group

An informative lecture on preparing ourselves for the future by Brent Weaver consultant at Investors Group Financial Services Inc.



Brent Weaver LinkedIn Link
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.

“Get out of the passenger seat!”



Brent takes a more integrated approach with one finances.

“A good financial planner coaches”

As a coach, Brent encouraged his clients to understand a few things.

  • Put debt in its proper place
  • Risks of investing
  • Taxes – How to pay your fair share

Your money is empowering and should be used to empower.

Does the interest on credit cards scare you?

Do not look on the surface; know the details of what one’s financial responsibilities are.

Understanding compound interest is something that everyone should understand.

To but it simply it is interest on the interest plus the principal. It seems to me that it can become a vicious circle. It was mentioned that people are looking for a miracle; I believe that this why people choose to avoid learning about the risks of bad debt.

Waiting for a miracle (lottery) is not financial planning.

Paying off debt vs. Saving

In Ontario, you may receive an interest rate tax credit for the interest that you pay OSAP. This is good to know and can help out in pay our debt, but also to invest.

Most people need to invest for retirement, not save – savings usually have return rates that are less than inflation. As inflation increase, that value of one government pension diminishes in spending power. That is why we need to take some of our dollars and let it work for us.

“Saving will not help you.”

Time is Money

Don’t wait to start putting money away do it as early as possible! The early bird gets a nice retirement. Brent asked us what we think the biggest risk when making an investment?; I said that it is the fear that one would loose it all. Well, it turns out that the biggest risk is all of us. Brent explained that a group of economists, Fama, Shiller, and Hansen were recognized for asset-price work. Essentially they recognized how financial markets work and assets such as stocks are priced. One stock does well another bad, but switches; what was good is bad and what was bad is now good.

That is why many financial coaches like Brent recommend diversifying one’s portfolio is a good plan.


Guarantee Investment Credit, the banks love these, but they are linked investment meaning that that span across the market. For an investor, it seems in my opinion that this type of investment like the invisible man, you know it exists, but you can not see what it is, what you invested, nor can you see it move.

Return to Mean

In finance mean revision is the assumption that an investment price will move to the average price over time.

If the value of a fund is gaining at a higher value, the end result should be a steady rate of growth. The market will not make you rich.

But wait…

What is the biggest thing you should really the biggest thing you should worry about?

Tomorrow. Start investing your money today.

To conclude we all need to be disciplined in how we use our extra dollars. Saving is an option but it is not the best option. You need a financial vehicle that moves your money in preparation for retirement. The sooner you start the better, understand that you should diversify into different financial vehicles and understand that some will go down while other will go up. There are a lot investigate, but seeking the help of a financial coach, like Brent, you will make more informed financial investments.

Thank you, Brent Weaver.

Creative Niche Master Wizards, a rock opera

Modern Resumes 101

A resume is a tool that allows one to land an interview; it is designed to be a ticket to a first impression. For web designers and graphic designers, content needs to be complemented with creativity; a resume that stand out from the endless piles of other resumes, from other job seekers. It is important that a resume previews the work you do. Not in content alone, but also in presentation. So in the spirit of design, it is time to make this blog a bit more interesting.

To get the interview requires action… And for some action, I will be taking my blog to an interesting place. For a better part of a week, I have been listening to The Who’s rock opera Tommy… ‘Hear me, See me’… yes, that Tommy.
So as a warning I may reference, in spirit.



This week’s blog is about the job search, resume preparation and do’s and don’ ts from Dyanna Zaidman and Theresa Casarin of Creative Niche. But let me first tell you who Creative Niche are: Creative Niche is a work placement organization that specifically caters to occupation in the creative fields such as advertising, marketing and in the industry I have chosen, web design.

It would be really cool if it were possible to create a rock opera blog of my own it would be about Creative Niche. Hey that not a bad title, Creative Niche a rock opera… it would be a story of a graduate of a web design program that wants to find his way to the exciting world of digital creative.

Creative resume, turn what you have into a resume that tells you who you are, that your skills and objectives are focused. 5 second is all it takes, so it is important to be clean and clear and to the point. Like a website, people scan a page to get a sense of content and to see if the information is of value.

And what is of value? Great question! Ironically enough the answer starts with a set of questions:

Who? – Who are you targeting you resume to?

What? – What make you a good fit, are the skills you have perfect for the position?

Why? – Why are you applying, is to advance your career, make a better portfolio?This is a good question to answer first.

Where? – Where did you go to school? Where did you work before?

And How? How do you want your resume to work for you? This is your calling card, your stamp; it is used for big pitch, your one ticket to a much bigger world… I could go on spouting one-liners. But you get my point, it is important… trust me.

Contact information is important but it is the right information that should be included. No addresses – only phone and email.

Resume content needs to be accurate and focused on its objective. Designed to get the interview.

“Use action words, Mr. Baker, make them verbs.”
the author of this blog singings

Avoid pronouns, use consistent tense, no jargon or slang and
do not add oblivious points.

All should work to be a powerful way to demonstrate what you have done and what you have to offer. Present or past tense, one or the other, do not switch it up.

Resumes are not a dating profile; include interests that relate to the job

You are not blind, deaf and dumb you have professional skills, we are all design software wizards:

“Sure codes, a mean CSS, there to be a twist in the wrist? It has to be a trick!” 

Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver how about other HTML and CSS code generating tools; a platform is important too, Mac OS or Windows PC or both.
The only software you have used and willing to continue to learn.

Accomplishments provide some examples; understand your role on projects:
Abilities, school projects, what did you do? —Show deliverables.
Education expected completion date, what you learned and your qualifications.
Include any freelance work, smaller projects, school projects and case studies.

Can you hear me? Dos and Don’ts

Have a personal style that pays attention to content that has a creative flare and is mindful that it is not too much and be a one-page document that is printer friendly.

Have two or three more people read your resume- the more the merrier!

Have an online presence like LinkedIn; it is an extension of your resume and you as a brand. Speaking of LinkedIn, keywords should be used, helps to optimize your online search presence.

Your profile picture should be of you smiling, teeth showing, friendly and approachable.

Online Portfolio should show examples of your work, but also your process, and thought process. What you include should be creative, make it your own, keep it updated and relevant and user-friendly.

Job hunting: take a deep breath and re-evaluate and create an action plan. Keep track of who you apply to. Make Excel your new BFF. Do your research and make an effort to outreach and put yourself out there.
So you think this is going to be a good interview?

Interview tips: Know why you want to work for an organization.
Research, research and more research.
Be prepared to answer and ask questions.
No phone during the interview turn off period; it helps to maintain the mojo.Make a follow-up – opportunity to recap. Send a letter, everyone likes to get a personalized letter.

“We are not going to take it” when badly dressed for an interview.
What not to wear: No shorts, sandals, sunglasses.
What you should wear: Business Casual, a sports coat, nice shirt, a sharp looking pair of trousers.

I will conclude by saying it can be a challenge to work through this process. But it will be well worth the effort as it will help you get the job. So good luck to me he. As luck is when preparation and opportunity meet. Thank you, Dyanna Zaidman and Theresa Casarin of Creative Niche, for providing the class with vital information in the progression of our careers.


ecentricarts: Community, Creative and Business

Charity is a community investment that makes for good business and I believe that ecentricarts is up to the challenge of making charity profitable for community and business sensibilities. Through an effective creative system, ecentricarts is making our world better with superior user experience, communication that motivates, web creative that is interactive and engaging.

This week’s guest speakers come for ecentricarts


Keith Durrant
CEO at ecentricarts


Michelle Claessens
Art Director at ecentricarts, Provisional RGD

First check these ecentricarts stats:
15 years in the business
Over a thousand projects
Hundreds and hundreds of clients
Over a Hundred websites
and the proud inventors of Beer O’clock, Every Friday… Wicked smart.

Keith began his presentation with a video that showcases the entire studio population; each of the staff’s duties and a business culture that is creative focused at the same time caring for the health of the team… ecentricarts is ‘Made by artisans for artisans’.

Pear and culture projects are a focus of the business and a mindset of
“we work together”. Meaning that ecentricarts encourages the client to be involved in the creative process.

Some of the clients that they work with include:

Canadian Red Cross



Curbell Plastics

and projects of the United Nations, yes that United Nation… very impressive.

Keith explained that the best clients are those clients that listen, are engaged during the process, are great to work with and being humble also helps.

Michelle Claessens then began to present some of the websites worked on.

The work

For all projects information is structured to be the primary focus, it allows design and development to proceed together, creates a product that communicates to the user and results in success of its objectives, be for the community or for private business.

Shop Talk – UX design term for work

KPI – Key Performance Indicator is used in understanding the effectiveness of a websites reaching targeted goals, red donate buttons are very effective in up selling (people are enticed to donate more and establishes a value that contributes to KPI.

But there are other methods that can be more interactive and unique.

One interesting example is the Canadian Red Cross. For their holiday campaign, they required a website where users can buy products or a set dollar value as a donation. The solution was to present a website where an image of an empty room is used as an interactive stage. Images of products, such as a plush toy or holiday cards can be moved and placed around a holiday inpsired image. One section of the page acts as the shopping cart and users can place items for purchase there. Moving an item from one location to another is a fun and easy way to engage the user, it provided an interesting method of donation that adds value to the user.

The process

“The unlike is joined together, and from the differences results in the most beautiful harmony.”

― Heraclitus

I have included the above quote as a truth that ecentricarts practices in their creative process.

Shop Talk – UX design terms for process

Agile approach: small processes as we go (just as much as you need to complete – incremental method of management of design of web products… is highly flexible and interactive… I believe this where the client is initially involved in the process.

Within the agile process, the first step is to divide colleagues into specific “Sprints”

Start of Sprint Zero

Design Sprint:

1st phase of the design thinking process
Used to validate an initial design concept
Short and time boxed steps
Involves the entire project team
All happens during Sprint Zero (before the regular sprint cycle)
This is where the team needs to embrace uncertainty
as the client wants to sign off
Need to now everything so the client can sign off at each print cycle
Tech Specifications
Note: Each process is a Silo – Account is one Silo and Design is another Silo


Brain Storming




End Product

Research – define problem and story mapping with Post-it Notes™ as is evolving.

Brain Storming — How? Gather inspiration, designer, and client work together, homework given. Round one: sketching many concepts on small pieces of paper. Ideas have no constraints, critique and feedback. Round 2: refined concepts. Round 3: Refine concept

Design + Prototyping: Interactive wireframes, high fidelity prototype using Zurb Foundation framework.

Testing: First test in-house (show around the office) but sometimes use a Test Service to conduct user testing. Tasks given: watch how user interact with website – design and functionality are tested – Quality of feedback, what the user is thinking when selecting a button and where.

End Product, End Sprint

Start the online style guide for website
Bits of design as go important that content/design is consistent

Agile Management was intended for designers to use but developed by software developers for developers, designers were not considered. The solution is to implement a mini Waterfall (also known as Wagile).

Waterfall is another method of development management in that it works as it is named, progress flows downward in sequential phases like a waterfall: Conception, Initiation, Analysis, Design, Construction, Testing, Production/Implementation and Maintenance.

But moving from one management process to a whole new other process is time-consuming and costly, both time and money.

Like the quote above the solution is to combine both Agile and Waterfall to create a Wagile. Within Wagile, the Design Sprint occurs.

After the Design Sprint

You return to Agile; it is a mature design method for development.

Note: Each Sprint includes
Small brainstorming
Sprint planning (wireframes for each development)
Design prototyping (best refined as needed)
Everyone needs to work together
Challenges of the Sprint
Time – get input – input where it is needed
Job-hunting tips

  • Networking – speaking to people
  • Good Designer design resume
  • Online portfolio
  • Cover letter- make it stand out, be memorable
    Why are you different
  • Check & Spell check
  • School projects do not obsess on a development, want to see
    layout and typography, thought process, wireframes, and sitemaps

Online Portfolio

  • range —handful of designs
  • samples — show artwork, show other creative projects


  • look at the interviewers company website
  • take an interest in what you do
  • Ask 5 relevant questions
    Save a few in your back pocket
  • Bring personality well rounded
  • Nervousness show you are excitement
  • Know your passions

Thank you, Keith Durrant and Michelle Claessens for taking the time to speak to the Pro topic class. It is fascinating to learn about ecentricarts, the culture looks inviting and nurturing; an environment for creativity. Glad to discover that your organization values the importance of community, for a charitable organization as well private businesses. The range of creative provided to clients is impressive, it shows that ecentricarts share a common trust for all their clients. The creative process revealed, wow; to learn that you have the clients involved in the process is awesome, that Agile is used initially, but then switches to Wagile…implementing a mini Waterfall for the design process and then switch back to Agile; Clever.
The job-hunting tips will be very helpful for our portfolio development and interview preparation. And finally thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, such as learning the tools you use for prototyping to a final product and that you see the of value accessibility.

I give you a big bucket of win for ecentricarts.

Q&A with Andy Tipping, Creative Director, Mischief Media

Andy Tipping portrait designed as RGB colour seperations

For any endeavour it is important to understand that you need to talk to other people by asking questions and learning from their answers. It is the answers that will help you in all your creative opportunities and future journeys. In this special blog posting, I will be providing a Q & A blog interview, with, Andy Tipping, Creative Director of Mischief Media. In this interview I ask questions relating to his experience when he took the one-year New Media Program; an equivalent of the one-year Web Design Program that my colleagues and I are taking.
The following interview was done via Skype November 24rd at 9:15 am.

JB: First off. Is it okay if I record this interview? …I have to provide a transcript of the questions I ask.

AT: All good.

JB: You are a graduate of the Sheridan College, postgraduate New Media Program. Can you give me a little bit more background about yourself?

AT: I went to the University of Guelph were I studied for a Bachelor of Arts with in a specialization in Fine Art and then after finishing my 4 years there, went to Sheridan to do the New Media Program and finished off a year there and went to work in the industry. Went to work with a company that was just changing its name from Digital Renaissance to Extend Media and then a few jobs after that.

JB: When you finished your four years at the University of Guelph, Fine Arts Program, did you know then, at the end of 4 years that you wanted get into digital.

AT: Yes, I did. At my time at University, I did, basically two… two-three years of University, but could not afford the last year. But consequently at that time I started working in the industry. So talking with someone, at Canadian Tire, Canadian Tire was my student job, I started working in the industry doing CD ROMS. The Internet was just starting to present itself …so there was not much Internet stuff… so I started doing CD ROMs, that was a big important thing at the time and that job took me to Florida, so I was in Florida for six to nine months.

JB: Oh wow, that must have been fun.

AT: It was fun! I lived a block away from Universal Studios in Orlando Florida.

JB: Oh Cool.

AT: I went to Disney World like every weekend it was great

JB: (laugh)

AT: The Company I was with was rather shaky. Sometimes my pay cheques would bounce.

JB: Oh, dear.

AT: I saved enough money to comeback and returned for the last year at the University of Guelph finish off my degree. At that time too, there was no new media or digital stuff within a Fine Art Program. But I knew that is was the industry that I was going to get into.

So from there I looked around and the only people that were doing this kind of stuff, at the time, were at Sheridan, where they had the New Media Program. In those days, when I took the New Media Program it was run in the same room with the 3D Animation students.

JB: Ok!

AT: Yes, it was a very interesting environment back then, it was kind of neat.

JB: Did you have contact with the 3D Animation students a lot?

AT: Yes, we did actually our classes were run separately. But we are in the same room all the time, walking pass each other. When there was a weekend parties and basically both programs were invited to the parties and we got along very well. It was a kind of neat environment. And in those days 2D/3D Animation was an emerging field, it was a really hot topic at the time.

JB: Cool.

“Yes it was really great, not only from the learning, but the sense of community that was in the class and learning from your community and from your peers.”

AT: How did you learn about the postgraduate New Media Program?

AT: I am not sure was kind of common knowledge…

JB: Interesting.

AT: It must have been word of mouth I suppose, but then I looked it up in the course calendar, but it was always well known by reputation for the 3D Animation, then looking up in the calendar and see what else they had going on. And that is where I ended up.

JB: How did you find the year? What were some of the challenges and highlights?

AT: There were challenges, challenges in learning new software and that sort of thing… it was an excellent year. Yes it was really great, not only from the learning, but the sense of community that was in the class and learning from your community and from your peers.

JB: What were some of the other organizations you worked for?

AT: Work for Extend Media, started out as Digital Renaissance, back in those days there were two big main shops doing new media. CD ROMS were just ending and the Internet was just taking off, went to Digital Renaissance, at had 165 people at the, It was a great experience; it was sort of the new office. They had a beer keg in the office and had a Sega!   

JB: (chuckle) Oh, Wow.

AT: Yes Sega, they had video games in the office, people could play on the couches and there was a dog in the office too; it was a new modern style of office… an anti-agency sort of movement and a new concept of office space. That was kind of exciting and spent some time there, but later the whole industry shrunk and industry collapsed in around 2000. At the time I was still at Digital Renaissance, but then moved to a company called Infinet, they focused on pharmaceutical interactivity that was interesting, in that there were a lot of regulations when dealing with the pharmaceutical industry.

JB: When did you start getting into the web design and web applications?

AT: Pretty much right away, when the Internet came along, CD-ROMS soon lost their purpose and pretty much everything was moving to the web. Right when I was starting to work…even when I took the New Media Program was sort of split fifty – fifty, some people did their projects on CD-ROM, other people did a website for the Internet. For me I did a little bit of both. For my final project I did a CD-ROM that linked out to websites that I also built. Then when I started working more in-depth creating 2 CD-ROMS. This when everything else moved very quickly to the web and the Internet took off.    

“I try and get as many assets, as I can for a project to try to learn about the branding that I am working on”

JB: What are some of the questions you ask when starting a new project?

AT: Learning about the project, there is some tactical things like: what is the brand, is there a brand guideline, can you send logos and assets… I try and get as many assets, as I can for a project to try to learn about the branding that I am working on. Including any other marketing materials that they have or may have. I take a look at everything, even if it does not directly relate to the project on hand, but to evaluate it and look to grab elements of that design to move forward in to the new project. But beyond that a conversation with the client ask questions to get them talking and get them to give an overview of what they are looking for, try to understand… sometimes how they express things isn’t always the type of language we would use, because we are not in there industry nor they in our industry. We try to ascertain or understand how and what they are asking for, it may not exactly what they are looking for. But try and meet those needs of understanding what the project is and what clients are asking for.

JB: So, there is a translation of the client ideas, what they are trying to tell you and then you translate, to them, your ideas.

AT: Exactly.

JB: Can you describe a typical day as a Creative Director at Mischief Media?

AT: Long and energetic, we have a lot of work coming in, but it’s going very well, very busy. A typical day starts at 8 o’clock and then can go to 3 in the morning. It’s good! Often it is dealing with the design of projects and then there is that we are starting to grow. We added a few new designers and helping them to meet the quality and design we are looking for.

JB: What is the one project that you are most proud of?

AT: There are a few… there is one we did for the Show the Big Bang Theory.

JB: Really?

AT: Yes that project was really exciting; the title of the project was ‘Big Bang Yourself’ which is kind of funny that we got a project release that was called ‘Big Bang Yourself’.

JB: Wow!

AT: But the idea was that you could upload a picture of yourself and nerdify yourself. For example you could drag on images of funny glasses or different clothing on to your image. This was all done in Flash: at the time. It was all fun, you could cut out your image all in Flash, all live. The idea was you would post your image online, post it to social media and you earn point for doing these things. Every time you made an image you earn points, if you shared your image, you earn points. It was all a contest leading up to someone winning the experience to go watch a taping of the Big Bang Theory.

JB: Wow!

AT: It was very immersive, experiential, had a lot of motion to it, a lot interactivity and even audio. There was even a point when we were about to write scripts for the actors, so for Jim Parsons and people from the show, the creative developed would look as if they were actually reading. When you were interacting you could hear them interacting and you could hear them saying funny things, but it just happened to be at the time they were in contract negotiations with the show, was just taking off and I did not want ask them to do anything new, because they were in contract negotiations.

JB: What are some of your favourite development tools and why?

AT: Well, I still like Flash… I do not know if you knew, I used to teach Flash at Sheridan.

JB: Really!

AT: In the program, I used to be the Flash teacher. I still like Flash: like the ability to create the interactivity, but I know that Flash has kind gone these days. It was a different style of interactivity; with HTML5 being great for mobile devices, we are not doing that same kind of projects we used to do when Flash was around. We really created experiential projects, it used to be about sound, motion and interactivity in a way that was really kind of fun to work with. But beyond that, in the modern world, some of the cool tools are HTML5, combination of CSS with JavaScript. I am using an animation library, Green Sock, that works really well. For coding I am using Coda. Other software: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

JB: What kind of tip and tricks can your share with someone training in the digital industry?

AT: Depends on what area you are in. For a developer, learn the tools really well, learning CSS, JavaScript create layouts that work with the designs. Other tips are: work well with people, be friendly, enjoy your work, enjoy the people around you and learn from the people around you that kind of thing.

JB: Do you still keep in contact with your fellow graduates? 

AT: I do talk to my fellow graduates, once in awhile. We see each especially once year at the Sheridan Grad Show, it’s nice to see everyone.

“Not only is quality of the work important, but also the quality of the work process…

JB: What do you look for in a potential candidate for helping with digital creative?

AT: I look for quality in design, an understanding of branding, look for a good knowledge of type layout and content layout. So I find that is important. A good background in typography is good; it lends itself well to the structure of content layout, that’s important. I also look for someone who is good to work with; I often test new people, with some freelance projects, give them small projects and see how they perform. Not only is quality of the work important, but also the quality of the work process, are they responsive to the project, do they answer back quickly with emails, are they eager for the work and it is the soft skills and personal skills of responsibility.

JB: How do you see the web and digital applications changing?

AT: I see more movement towards HTML5 and even less so within Flash. I see almost a merging between mobile and desktop, I see as one development, rather than separate things. We often design a mobile site then desktop site… really should be thinking about it as responsive design, create one product, one development adjusting and adapting to the proper medium, be it desktop or mobile.

JB: Andy, thank you so much for your time.

AT: No problem, no problem at all.

That was a Q&A interview with Andy tipping Creative Director at Mischief Media.
I found it very interesting that many of Andy’s experiences and situations are similar to mine. It is safe to say that we’re both still moving through our own journeys. Sometimes there will be hurdles but we can always overcome them by continuing to move forward and always learning. It was also interesting to hear that he has worked on some of the most important and unique projects such as the one for the hit television show Big Bang theory and it was good to hear that he enjoyed that particular project.

This blog Q & A was particular interesting in that it took me out of my element and established a conversation with and another professional. I hope to do another Q & A project in the future.

Here are some links to some of the projects that Mischief Media are currently running: graciously provided described by Andy Tipping, Creative Director Mischief Media.
This site allows you to create your own personal Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room image. You can select which era you’d like your jersey to come from, enter your name and details, and you’ll get an email back with the link to a webpage with your custom jersey. The final Image is created at runtime using an HTML5 canvas. The site is fully moderated to prevent inappropriate content.’
This application coordinates with the Raptors schedule and Ticketmaster to show real-time up-to-date pricing of raptors tickets. As you explore the schedule the seating chart to the left highlights the section you roll over in the table.’

These are a series of contests for a chance to win tickets to some major NHL Events’

‘A lot of the other work we do for our clients is internal or sales support material and presentations.’

Andy Tipping, Creative Director
Mischief Media

In Secret Location: Three Mystkateers

An interview in the dark…

This week we have a special treat, Three former grads of the Web Design program, and now all three working for Secret Location.


Sharing in a secret location… ssssh.

Journey to Secret Location:

Erin Ackerman:
– Graduated the web-design program 3 years ago
– Worked for a studio named Lollipop Media (
– Noora – non traditional meeting – 1 year later hired. (“New boards” get more info)
– year and half at Secret Location

Joel Relliquette
– Also went to school with Erin, same situation, met Noora
– But reached out to Noora

Melody Tam
– Illustration at Sheridan, technical and scientific illustration
– web design, at Sheridan, 1 year later, after Erin and Joel graduated
– Was freelancing then hired by Secret Location.

Secret Location background:
With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, Secret Location is a “content studio for emerging platforms”. This includes working with major television networks to bring and transform the television experience to an online experience and to engage audience via social media. The studio have won many awards including an Emmy for Sleepy Hallow VR experience.


“Each person has a role; but the outcome is as a team.” Joel

Basic process
Post board up to debrief
Do not take from, specific person or intend to take form design. We look around us.
– Story telling plays a major contribution.
– First project can be unusual – Melody game – played game to gather information.

Typical day
Always busy… later hours

  • no meeting Wednesdays
  • creative check-in
  • therapy – less technical
  • Designers show your portfolio

Check this out at 5:30 Friday Presentation on whatever topic you want. Could be a design, website, book, movie or you could teach a new app.

Work/life balance is non-existent, but the initiative – is fun and games, to teach a work life balance. This helps to create better creative. Remember you need to still be productive and work.

Developers like when designers work first with the code. Conceptualized design show competence in design and critical thinking.

Big agency —there are people that do specific creative.

Things to explore:
Immersive experience motion graphics projects:
After Effects
Cinema 14
Blender 3D
Flash and AE

How to adapt
Sapient Nitro?
Remember soft skills friends / hard skills culture.

Noora’s philosophy working downtown:
– It is nice to be in a location that allow you to look outside
– In studio most of the time, stepping out to shop, or go for a walk.

Most Difficult Project

  • hardest is creative block
  • technical can be the hard part, trying to wrap head around it.
  • When you want to take a nap.

Do you pitch ideas?

-We do pitch, given Secret Location Creative Task objectives.
-This is when brainstorming occurs.


Mainly work with television networks. Bitten (about Werewolf + Vampires) askes to provide content that extends the story online and added to the story, became part of the digital property.

The Sheridan Web Design final assignment
Pick a topic you know and love.

Melody – Home Defence Green West
Joel – Genetic designer babies
Erin – Ice Cream


  • Melody Podcasts – This American Life
  • Joel was asked to get back to work, get back to work.
  • Erin is all over the place- prefers meditation and food.

Pete – Secret Location speaker

Secret Location-Is a small to medium agency

Options after grad show, stay in touch

Last bit of advice:

Keep every project assignment fictitious

Dividends v. inspiration

Story Board your work, agencies like to see process.
Ask yourself what do you like about your projects.
Erin: Be your own art director.
Finished projects – have Grey Boards visible.

What an interesting Pro Topics class this weeks three guest speakers, it was an interesting experience to conduct a Q&A over Skype; technology is amazing. This was a first for me; I had experience with hello conference calls before but not when it includes video. With that said, what Erin, Joel and Melody provided vital information of what to expect during our program, what is expected of us when contacting agencies, what they look for in a potential candidates and to give them advice on process. It was good to meet Erin, Joel and Melody… It’s too bad that we did not meet Noora.
I found the guest speakers to be very interesting people and look forward to networking with them in the future.

Alexander Younger: Finding the Right Job



…and queue the electro synth music. Does this modified quote remind you a certain educational film series from the past? Well it did for me, strange but true, I loved watching educational programming and Think About was the name and the intro music was pretty funky.

Welcome back Pro Topic friends, I thought I would introduce this weeks blog with a bit of a retro flashback feel, remembering educational programming, as I believe that last Fridays guest speaker, Alexander Younger, owner of Design Lab, made an impactful presentation. And reminded me of my enjoyment of educational television. Alexander Younger’s presentation was very much like like a educational or training film with him as a presenter. Mr. Younger is a very well spoken and charismatic narrator. His presentation, was clear, concise and to the point. I got a lot from his presentation, designed to inform the group, very entertaining educational film come to life. In the mean time let me reiterate the presentation.

Alexander Younger is the President and CEO of Design Lab
Founded 1992.

The presentation was titled:

Alexander Younger: Finding the Right Job.

The premise is: Agency coming to tell you what the agency is like when you want a job.

My prospective:
This is very important to understand what agency’s require in a candidate.

Tips and Scoops.

A bit of background: Mr. Younger been in the business for 23-24 years running. works digitally for some very important clients:

Beer Sales like Beer Store 


Real Estate

Aviation like Diamond Aircraft 

And is committed to using the newest technologies, solar array on the roof, save energy.

My prospective:
It is impressive that Design Lab is an organization taking the initiative towards saving the environment and rolling out incredible creative.

Alexander Younger asked Why are we here?
Sheridan is an excellent opportunity and we should us it.

Employers will look at what you did; here every project counts, especially if your portfolio is light.

Get to know your class mates – they are all going places and well make great contacts in the future.

How you take a problem and solve-it

My prospective:
Every opportunity should be taken to see all what sheridan can offer. Many outside resources can help improve your portfolio and to build our confidence. And the number one resource are your classmates. Having a solid creative and problem solving process is key.

“Simple is very hard”

—Alexander Younger

Getting a Job Paradox


  1. Apply for Job
  2. Getting rejected, it’s nothing, try again.
  3. Talk to your peers about agencies

My prospective:
There is a process for everything, including getting a job you love.

Go online and create a shortlist of places you want to work and write down Why?

  • Visit their website carefully
  • do your research
  • ask a lot of questions
  • Take your projects and deconstruct
  • improve what is not working vs. what is.
    My prospective:
    Think of your interview search as the most import project of your life.

Cover Letter and Resume

  • Keep it short
  • Reason to like you
  • Now about the company
  • Be memorable, but in the right way
  • Send something unique
  • “Be who you are”
  • Write a good resume

Attention avoid phrases like “Excellent Communicator”

Be ready for…

  • Telling about your experience
  • Lead the interviewer the right direction
  • Be outgoing, nerves is expected relax, chat
  • Mention that your skill set can help grow the company and add to the team.

Prepare you portfolio
Make it nice – not flashy
Keep it clean and professional
Don’t get to edgy or cool
Show process of work
Problem solving
Think of it as a product

“FACEBOOK” keep it focused
It is part of your brand and prospective employers look at it.

The interview, be expected to interview 2-3 times First on the phone, in-person, and with the team. Theme, is it one sided, lead the interview.

  • Ask about the culture – learning annex
  • Asked to be invited to the table
  • Want to contribute
  • Who’s going to be in the interview?
  • creative team?
  • Make Sheridan a key point
  • Be prepared to talk about the firm, who would you work with
  • List a lot of questions- PRINT them out
  • Rules when interviewing or visiting
  • No Gum Chewing
  • No Sunglasses
  • No Slogan Shirt
  • Details are important
  • Meeting with clients dress nice show some effort
  • No cologne or at least do not bath in it.
  • Notes Printed/ Show you are prepared
  • Tablet us it/meet the team
  • After the interview
  • Write a thank you note
  • Write down any follow up questions for the next interview
  • Keep on interviewing

Never Settle! Take the wrong job,
No one wins at the wrong job.

Talk to someone open and honest. Talk Talk.
If you don’t thing will get worse.
How to get
Put together a great portfolio
Great attitude
Research the company and your interviewer
Ask a lot of questions
Don’t settle!

Types of interview

One on One usually means need anyone to fill a job posting right away, be wary of this
As they may have a lot of turn around.
Panel Interview is most common, Design Lab uses this method.
It can be unnerving sometimes/Good Cop / Bad Cop.
Tips – we care about all people
Listen to questions- think about it, ask does that answer your questions
Cold Calling? Ask to personalize
Reason to be interested in the company
Most agency cultures believe in having diversity. Fit well.

alexander_younger_m2“Nature abhors a vacuum ”
—Alexander Younger

(“horror vacui, or plenism” — Aristotle quote) Cool, Smart & True

Thank you Alexander Younger

Q and A

Best method to ask about culture?

Ask directly “Describe the Culture”
The culture should be that impliments a constructive resolution of conflict

1st interview get hired RUN.

What would be a good work life balance?

Work and happiness should go together,
Sharing with colleagues is important.

Recap Interview stages

  1. By phone first
  2. 1hr in person interview
  3. With the team

Some companies ask you to take a test

But most important trust your gut.


If you have good references share them– will call

Asking for a tour ok?

Yes ask for a tour

Ok. Ok. my question and as mentioned at the beginning of the blog

This is the reason that I chose a educational film theme.

Thanks you letters Snail Mail or Email?

“If you got a letter in the mail you would read, like and remember it.”

Hell Yes ‘thumbs-up’

queue the electro synth music again —fade to black

and scene.

Hugh Elliott The Gypsy King —Baseball Card

You probably never heard of the Gypsy King card, it is my version of a popular brand of baseball card know as Gypsy Queen manufactured by Topps Collectibles. Your asking your self, what does baseball cards have to do with a guest speak for last Fridays. Professional Topics class. Well I will come out and say it in a language that will get your attention.

‘For Expletive sakes, Hugh Elliott reminds me of a god expletive baseball player’ —James Baker

Yes, I know strange, but the first bit of evidence is his professional journey. It is reminiscent of a player’s stats and they are all good, meaning he must be good at what he does, gets hired by some of the biggest agencies, gets the job done, at same time having fun and as a bonus a Bohemian prospective of being creative.


Hugh Elliott: The Gypsy King



Mr. Hugh Elliott is a independent developer who is freelancing

This King has not publicly spoken in 3 years

Hugh likes to swear a lot, baseball players like to swear a lot too.

“This is my persona, who I am” –Hugh Elliott

Home Run stats

1998 Electronic Media Animator – at the time animation studios where hiring anyone with a basic understanding of design applications and a desire to learn.


1999 Junior Designer


2000 McCann McLaren – largest ad agency North America – MultiMedia CD-ROMS ‘Sigh!’ author ‘Sigh x 2’


2002 Senior Flash Developer


2003 Free agent started own company Nemesis Group, Technical Director- Won agency of the year


2004 Hugh Elliott Developer – Sites and web banners


2006 Fjord – Senior flash Developer


2007 Organics – Manager, Intergrated Media


2009 Henderson Bas Kohn –director of rich media 5 weeks


2009 Free Agent Hugh Elliott developer


2012 Kolody Technical Director


2012 MacLaren McCann – Director Front End and creative development | creative took a back seat


2014 Hugh Elliott Developer

“They come to Hugh, I fix it” —Hugh Elliott

Batter up: Tips for new developers

  • Maintain your connections
  • Did you have a strategy
  • Freelance save up $ 3 months – slow periods January February and Summer
  • Speculative is a bad word Collaborative is a good word
  • Speculative – Free- lose rights – try to avoid
  • Collaboration think like a musician – helps build portfolio, work with like minded people – network
  • Flash banners be prepared to do banners 
  • Avoid making bad banners
  • Family is a good motivator
  • Do not be afraid to ask for endorsement
  • Keep the CORE of the design alive
  • Creatives make a lot of $$$ welcome to the major league kiddo
  • Freelance, give it try you might like it
  • Contact Project Managers
  • Passion Project v. Other Projects, can be symbiotic
  • Make & build something from scratch

Be willing to fail.” –Hugh Elliott


Current projects

Photography – Long exposure using light, on Vine – 5 sec videos

Maker projects such an LED clock, freelance Side projects

Long Exposure light motion capture build for creative applications



Ben’s and David’s tag team talk: TAXI, The Agency of the Decade.

Friday! FRIday!! FRIDAY!!! October 2nd, 2015. Two powerhouse punchers from TAXI visit the Pro Topics Arena and do a conversation with a group 23 recruit able creative newbies:


Starting first in the arena,

Ben Feist, Vice president, Technology at TAXI
Ben Feist, Vice president, Technology at TAXI

And presentation teammate

David Stuart Airey, Recruitment Manager at TAXI.


“A Handful of key individuals drive every piece of business” —Ben Feist

Focusing his energies in development and innovation of digital creative, using newest Technologies, Ben Feist and his digital team have provide high quality products for some of the biggest Canadian companies. He believes that every person at TAXI has the opportunity and duty to provide top notch creative. This why when the question, ‘Will I have creative freedom at TAXI?’ the answer was honestly responded is ‘not all the time’. The industry works with constraints and is considered a good thing. Constraints help drive the creative process and produce very unique creative. But this also can result in what is known as the ‘The Creative Advertising Conundrum’ (Almost sounds like a wrestling move, acronym too. TCAC A tool to beat TAXI’s competitors) Digital creative comes to this situation most of time, but it is TAXI who sees TCAC as a in-house tool, forces creative teams to always take a step further and goes the distance… even knowing it will be rejected.

“no money, you need to be daring “—Ben Feist

That is why going the distance, with a concept, sometimes pays off. Ben explained this further in an example where the TAXI team developed a fictitious scooter called ‘Mini Skini’ by Mini Cooper. The result was that some segments of the audience thought the ‘Mini Skini’ was real and some even tried to order. The campaign was a success, web traffic increased to the Mini Cooper website, calling the company to know how they could place an order and buy. So going the extra mileage can result in success.

But most of the time you can’t win them all. For TIFF 2010, TAXI was commissioned to develop a campaign, centred around film and to introduce a common factor; in this case it was a film reel.

This common factor needed to be fun, unique and full of energy. The examples shown were very impressive and became part of something important and feel international. The campaign simply related to classic films. But presented in a way the reminds the audience why the TIFF festival 10 is something not to miss; to see newly released classic film. Smart idea.

But smart ideas can still be cut back to communicate a totally different message and for TIFF Festival 10 this is what happened, the campaign still worked, but this is an example that even when you go the distance does not guarantee success in implementing. So why even try…wrong attitude. The point is that we need to push our selves even if we feel we know that it will not be accepted.

TAXI has a mantra:

  • Keep the pressure on
  • Always go beyond the standard
  • To later be rejected, mean you can try again
  • Sometimes concepts will be accepted


Other notable campaigns mention by Ben are: WVSRT invite campaign, sausage only themed restaurant, required invite materials collateral and digital. Mentioned as being a Cannes Lion winner.

Vancouver Aquarium, Angular Fish campaign, promote Luminescence exhibition, please see the Youtube video, attached a image of an angular fish to a street lamp, mimics an attribute of fish found at the aquarium. This promotion established a link to passers by. Engagement and curiosity generated new interest in the Vancouver Aquarium.

Viagra was one campaign that Ben explored in some detail. He mentioned that pharmaceutical products must be handle in a special way. You can either mention the name of product, minus what it does or you can mention what it does, minus what it is called. A very challenging problem, but TAXI made an interesting approach.
First platform was ‘confiding in your doctor’ a very serious approach to a men’s health issue, newly revealed to pop culture. The second platform was ‘Talk to your Doctor’ more light-hearted; pop culture accepts medical condition. Nice evolution to a campaign that has helped men’s health awareness and received a Golden Lion Cannes award.

Ben mentioned one more client that ventured from other international campaigns that TAXI has done, such as the Bombardier train and aircraft commercials. Allowed both companies to the development of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic relay torch: Canadian made and designed to never blow out.


Ben speciality is digital and it plays an important role at TAXI. Ben showed in interesting diagram that shows that there is a spectrum. And by distinguishing where they fall can determine a candidate’s success and continued digital education. Some agency focus on tech primary in the app development, require a retainer for services and are considered ad agencies but need to grow up. In the middle you have UX Primary, essential stay in one place, internet and .com. For TAXI they are on the right side, Brand Primary and involves pure UX and brand centric and a philosophy ‘learn as you do’.

Ben’s helpful tips:

  • Review your gameplay
  • Learn to talk about your work
  • Presenting what you are best at
  • Go outside yourself
  • Contextual thinking
  • Client Situational awareness

Now Pro Topic Fans David has been tagged to inter the Pro topic Arena.

David is a Group Manager for recruitment, has worked in Montreal, New York. Is a post Sheridan graduate. When David began working for TAXI he found to be an interesting and meaningful place.
When David looks for candidates he looks for the best of the best.

Here are some tips he mentioned to become one of the best:

  • Have confidence, being happy is productive
  • Emotion should be in the work not the work place
  • Charisma is nice, talking to people is important
  • Client charge, working with clients is key to success
  • Explain your worth
  • TAXI is part of a healthy culture
  • Work together make it a meaningful
  • Be expected to work around the clock 50-60 hours
  • Show your best ingredients
  • Communicate your talents
  • Have an outside life

For portfolios having both analog and digital presentation is important, but more importantly it is want story it tells about you.

  • Passion first
  • Best you can do
  • Show 3 amazing pieces
  • Stamina and enthusiasm
  • Mentorship is important
  • Stunts should be avoided, unless they are brilliant
  • Network first

David concluded his talk by saying that the industry is in a transitional period.
That work is available and that work for TAXI is a possibility, especially students from Sheridan Web Design program.

Attention all potential creatives, these two highly professionals look for ‘the best of the best’. If you have what it takes, take their advice and work like you never have worked before.
TAXI has provided some of the most daring and memorable campaigns for some of the most well known corporation in Canada and from around the world. So visit the TAXI web site when you get a chance.