All stories related to: THE STORY

Dec 17 2013
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Creativity is Collaboration

Apple tree

This post is a shout-out to all you wild-and-crazy A.D.’s.

Ian Brignell’s strongest professional relationships are with Art Directors. They speak the same language, creatively speaking. Many of them have changed companies, cities, states – even countries but when the right job comes in, they contact Ian.

Ian sings their praises all the time because In the world of commercial art and design, people got to work together and the quality of Ian’s creative work is reliant upon the quality and clarity of the brief.

A gifted Art Director knows and understands what his or her client wants, what they need (because sometimes these diverge) and is able to communicate precisely all these things to Ian. The brief is an exercise in creative direction: How the lettering or logo should feel, what emotional qualities it needs to elicit, size and technical details, legibility issues. Great Art Directors can offer nuanced synopsis about the target market and they are specific about where the design cannot go.

A good brief is Ian’s springboard, creatively speaking. When goals are clearly understood and communicated, art and design flourish.

A good brief has traveled a long road. It begins at the corporate level, moves through brand management, is entrusted to a design/branding agency where it is adopted by the creative director.

When each link in this chain is strong, magic happens.

Shout-out over-and-out.







Oct 27 2013
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Youth and The Long Road: Discipline, Part 2

Thank you for all the emails about my “Let’s Talk Dirty” post.

The topic of discipline hit a nerve and there was much fretting. All I can say is; don’t worry. In writing about Ian Brignell I am discussing a mature man at the top of his game. You guys are focussing on the mountain’s peak but it’s the hike to the top that tells the true story. Some perspective, then.

In the late 1980’s, Ian Brignell arrived back in Canada after three-and-a-half years living and working in London, England. He returned to Toronto determined to make a living as a lettering and logo design specialist (as opposed to a graphic designer). It was a bold move at the right time. Ian was young, expenses were minimal and he had a city full of connections from his time as a student at Sheridan College. Luckily, the majority of his friends did not like or simply were not good at hand lettering but many jobs, from editorial to packaging, were enhanced by it. They knew from school that Ian’s lettering work excelled. His prices were fair so everyone was happy.

In those days, a lot of Ian’s work was calligraphy because companies were really into award certificates back then. Ian’s office was a drafting table that took up almost half of his bedroom. Cartons of blank certificates crowded but Ian never complained. He called this work “the meat and potatoes” because it paid the rent and bought the groceries. The logo jobs were the “gravy”.

Ian Brignell liked to party and so did most of his friends. Four o’clock beers mid-week after work would become a basket of wings or a hamburger then off to a club to meet up with laggards – you know how it goes. Sometimes it was so late that people had to walk home because the streetcars had stopped running. Ian’s roommates would pile into the house and then clamour upstairs to hit the sack.

Frequently, as other people were settling down to sleep, Ian was settling in at his desk. A cup of tea, the spotlight from an articulated desk lamp, pens and nibs and ink.

Ian liked to party but he never missed a deadline. Fun, ambition, discipline. There’s an equation in there somewhere…

Here’s a photo of Ian from 2008 in NYC.

Ian@Bigelow's, NYC 2008


Oct 15 2013
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Let’s Talk Dirty: Discipline

Ian fields a lot of queries about his creative process. All successful designers do. It is one of the most difficult questions to answer because the interested parties, often at the beginning or early-middle of their design careers, are hoping for fairy dust. People want to believe that artistry alone will their futures make. But this is not true. Along with talent, passion and some luck, to have a successful and long creative career you require discipline.

I can hear you groaning. What picture in the mind does the word conjure? Whips? Chains? Gloomy-gray windowless rooms? Ian Brignell’s life and career suggest otherwise.

Ian works out five mornings a week; has done since he was sixteen years old. Is he an exercise freak show? Nope. It’s just that this morning ritual is the cornerstone of his creative process.  During Ian’s routine his mind clears, his goals for the day come into focus and he leaves the gym creatively open and grounded.

Then he goes to work. Ian does not have unproductive days.

Here’s a new picture: Creativity as a bright river running beside and over and around your personal landscape. But the river is no good to you unless you decide to get wet. Ian’s daily routine, this discipline, re-plants his feet in the creative flow every single day.

Want a successful creative career? Figure out what gets your feet in the river and do it. Every single day.

This was the first instalment in The Story series.


Oct 07 2013
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What the hell am I doing here, really?

Well, I’m not going to be a cheerleader. The micro-blogging/fb/instagram universe is full of cheerleaders and it feels a lot like high school and does not interest me at all. Also, Ian Brignell needs no cheerleading. His work speaks for itself. Thousands of people visit his portfolio site every week because he creates intelligent, elegant design solutions that meet the needs of his clientele and satisfy the eye. And he does it every day, no audience required.

So what the hell is my job? To tell his story, I think.

How does Ian do it every day? Why does he still love to do it every day? Whence his creative energy and flow? Now that’s the stuff I want to write about.

I will still post his new work, the attendant marketing campaigns, awards, etc. And, of course, Cocktail Hour interviews so you can hear Ian Brignell in his own words. To all of that I now add THE STORY. Ian Brignell’s story. Personal and passionate, it will exceed 140 characters.

Whew. Feels like relief…