An Ode to Print, in Black & White
here has rarely been a more perfect union than that of black and white. Classic films, original newspapers, old
comics... they all bring story to life without the need for color.
"We'll always have Paris"
Think on it — classics like Casablanca, Rebecca, Citizen Cane, It Happened One Night, all came together solely off the performance of the actors and strength of the story. No slow-motion blood spatter, or 3D-animated creatures filled the space between lines. That's not to say Hitchcock didn't love an over-dramatized scream, or Capra didn't appreciate a good-ol' sexist face slap. But, story was solely story and so became the legends of Hollywood.
Today, we live a different kind of storytelling — one vibrant with color and rich with drama, yet no more passionate than the original form of black and white. Why is that?
I like to think that, back in the day, the passion and story were written into each cinematic moment. Those long, silent pauses that made our hearts beat faster, or dark foreboding shots backdropped before glowing windows. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly it was that made story compelling before we added color. But, it is this question that captured my heart as a writer, and led me to where I am today.
"Here's looking at you, kid."
My desk, or more accurately, my life is covered with ink, pencil, and paper. My love of classic movies and comics is what drew me, so many years ago, to this profession. I had this nostalgic notion that I could make a living sitting in a coffee shop, scribbling thoughts and musings onto scraps of paper. Romantic, yet unrealistic.
As time moved on and the deeper I got into the advertising industry, the more time I spent
typing on a laptop, producing video in 4K, and scribbling notes on Instagram instead of on paper. Even as I loved it, a part of my original passion felt betrayed. It wasn't until one dark and rainy day in Portland that I sat down, coffee in hand, and decided to make this digital ode to paper — in black and white.
Some may say I over-romanticize the past form of storytelling, writing, and language — the thought that life moved slower and that people paid heed to the written word. But, I'm okay with the notion that we can appreciate our past. So long as we respect its failures along with its triumphs and embrace the possibilities of a now present future filled with color.
As you peruse my portfolio, you will find almost no color or motion. It is an intent, and in so doing I hope you pay more attention to the words than the final designs and images. I hope you enjoy, and find yourself drawn to another era and the myth of time gone by.
Storytelling from California to Oregon
Bend . Oregon
From the tides of San Diego to the pines of the Pacific Northwest, I've spent my life scribbling stories. Eight years ago, I turned those scribbles into a career when I found myself in the Ad world of Mad Men. The beauty of this truly insane industry, for a writer, is its adaptability. No matter the client, no matter the project, and no matter the outlet, there are very few boundaries. In fact, the more you think beyond what's anticipated, the more chance you have of being heard.
I do believe writing really isn't about grammar, or length, or even hashtags and keywords. Writing, in its truest form, is about story. Create the story — for your brand, your customer, yourself — and the structure will follow. Come to find out, what I do more than actually writing is story building. I architect messaging from insight and strategy to concept and design.
But, even before that begins, I spend time listening to my clients. I hear their challenges, their hopes for the future, what their customers believe in, and what they're both missing. From all this I find the brand backbone. I dig up, or create, that one common element that holds true to every aspect of their brand. And finally, from there, create the story.
Crafting story is not an exact science, and can't be produced from an algorithm. The best storytelling, for brands, is based on a feeling. How do you feel when you see Pepsi... gassy & still kind of pissed off at the Jenner debacle. How about Marlboro or Levis or Nike? These brands spent the time to build a story that resonated. You get a feeling, a gut reaction when you see their brand... and that is the outcome of brand copywriting (and design, of course).
Photo Cred . Lara Holleran
I believe clever language has the power to change lives. Our imaginations can build worlds, evoke terrible monsters or create whimsical flights of fancy. But it is the words we use to visually weave these tales that give us the ability to engage, inspire and enrich people's reality.
Photo Creds . Scott Clum