The pandemic has been hard. Full stop. (Death, illness, and isolation are not happy-making things.)
What hasn’t been difficult is working with a wonderful set of clients. We’re firing on all cylinders for a crazy-amazing group of people and organizations. Here’s just a brief taste:
My relationship with HumanGood is one of the most fruitful collaborations of this part of my career. We are working on all kinds of projects using all of my skills: design/art direction, marketing consulting, music, film, photography, voiceover, film producing and event producing, etc. etc. … I just returned from a quick filming trip to the Bay Area last night (photo above). So rewarding.
The Planetary Report
I love this magazine. Getting to tell — visually — the story of space exploration from a nongovernmental perspective (The Planetary Society is fully funded by memberships, like National Geographic) is sheer joy. This issue had some COVID-era complications: we couldn’t get the paper that the magazine is usually printed on. At. All. Nowhere in the world. So we had several quick phonecall meetings, made some new paper dummies, weighed it to make sure postage was not going to increase, and leaned into the pivot and printed on a new paper. I press-checked it right before leaving to film in the Bay Area this week, and it looks beautiful.
Many more stories to tell, but I’ll save those for later. If you’re looking for a communications expert who knows their way around visual marketing — print, internet, broadcast — give me a call. We have lots of energy to make magic for you as well.
This is still one of my favorite projects! The Planetary Report is a quarterly magazine published by The Planetary Society. I have been its art director for the past several years, and we make beautiful, informative art every time!
It’s fun to watch your baby head out into the world and be read by thousands of people, keeping them educated and informed about science. Very proud of the work we do on this.
Editor of The Planetary Report Emily Lakdawalla joined me today as I approved magazine proofs coming off press. We had a blast, and account manager Gwen Lloyd gave us the grand tour of their print facility. Check it out — Emily filmed some of the fun machines running:
Grateful to Emily Lakdawalla and Mat Kaplan for a lovely mention on the most recent edition of Planetary Radio. Emily was discussing some of the newest features of The Planetary Report magazine — including the quarterly spacecraft-locating-map-feature “Where We Are” — with Mat. I’m grateful for the decades-long partnership that we have with The Planetary Society, and look forward to even more fun with them in the future.
Once again we have published a beautiful issue of The Planetary Report, the quarterly magazine of The Planetary Society (Bill Nye is the CEO). I’m so excited for everyone to see the beautiful artwork and infographics that we did for this issue.
Not only are we doing the magazine for The Planetary Society, but we also support the marketing department: we just finished developing a life-size standee of Bill Nye to be used at conventions and trade shows!
Don’t forget to contact us for any marketing/design/art-direction needs you have.
Our win for this week was getting Bill Nye’s newest quarterly magazine off press and ready for mailing. We’re placing a lot of emphasis on infographics in order to explain complex scientific principles and processes involved with space science and exploration. The hope is that people become even more excited and invested in space science through our magazine. Head over to http://www.planetary.org to become a member and get your own copy of the magazine!
It seems odd that the last “post” I made to my own website was 11 months ago. I mean — there’s lots to talk about, so why has it been so long?
Lots of work.
Here’s a little taste:
Four (4!) books — cover design and interior design — for Servant Partners Press. They are beautiful. Go check them out.
Audio mixing half of a live concert DVD for the “Celebrate Recovery” program at Saddleback (a megachurch in Orange County). It sounds beautiful…I’m really proud of the mixing/mastering job I did on that project.
Another book — cover design and interior design — for longtime client Asian Access. The book drops May 1, so I can’t post pictures yet. But it’s beautiful, and will be really well-received.
Continued work with The Baseball Reliquary, including video from their annual Shrine of the Eternals induction ceremony event and continued support for their website. Let me be clear: it was difficult to become a member of the Reliquary — an association funded entirely by member dues — before our redesigned site launched. The new site has paid for itself in new memberships that have been purchased over the website. Wow!…absolutely wonderful.
Photography for the amazing JD Hinton and Phil Bloch (we’re developing a new site for Phil Bloch). These musicians are amazing, and I’m privileged to be working with such incredible talent…and all-around great guys.
You did see the game I designed, right? Rocks and Docks keeps plugging along; it’s used in treatment facilities in group therapy. We had a fun time developing, testing, revising, and assembling that game.
We’re helping out good friend and colleague (and amazing product designer) Dave Schultze launch a Kickstarter campaign for his new game. I just spent part of last weekend filming some footage for the Kickstarter video.
I don’t even think this covers half of what we’ve been working on. And I can’t wait to show you more: another trip to Asia where we’ll be producing all of the onsite video, several more websites that we are currently developing, more music and sound cues, and the list goes on…
My signoff for a form of pages (8 out of the 24) that go into the magazine
Today I got to spend the day at The Dot Printer, one of my favorite printers in the world. I spend a whole day here every quarter, checking the magazine that I art-direct for The Planetary Society as it is going through the press. Why do I spend a whole day watching paper run through the press? Because I only want top-notch-quality for my clients. By being on-site, I can ensure that everything comes off press looking exactly how I intended it to…down to the color of that dot that shows where they landed on Antarctica (check out this quarter’s issue for a really fun look at research being done on Antarctica that simulates the environment astronauts might find themselves in on Mars).
I have lots to talk about, and I think I’ll be on here more often this year than last — telling all of you about my projects and all the opportunities to see our work pop up around town. I also want to talk about some of the things that we at HCS care about — education, science, and the technology that continues to drive our industry.
I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love music. My entry into filmmaking came only after an internship at a North Hollywood recording studio brought my recording chops up, and then I used that skillset to start location recording, and then sound editing, picture editing, post production supe duties, and finally producing…but I digress.
I’ve been playing music since I was five years old. First piano and drums (orchestra percussionist for five years), then classical guitar for a while, then cello for a few years, voice lessons in high school, and on-the-job accompanist training in college. So it should come as no surprise that my current business has a soft spot for musicians.
What does that mean? Well, I still need to make money. But I can cut deals that benefit an artist or label because of my varied skillset. I can do your product packaging, but I can also work on your website and advertising. We can work on a music video, brilliant photography, and even do some recording. Later on I’ll show you a few examples.
But first: the newest project that I’m working on is with a fantastic San Antonio-based artist, Matt McCormack. Check out this guy’s amazing songwriting. We met through a friend, and I played onstage with him a few months ago when he traveled to L.A. at Genghis Cohen (fantastic venue, and fantastic restaurant too).
So when Matt asked me to add some keyboard parts to his new recording project, we embarked on a long-distance back-and-forth to find the right sounds for these new songs. Here are the first two:
I’m really excited about the collaboration, and I hope to be onstage with Matt again sometime soon.
Check out this amazing 70s-style photo from a recording session with Shakedown Mambo:
…and the photo that ended up on the back cover of their most recent album:
I did a rather long blog post on the creation of the CD packaging for T-Lou, a Zydeco/accordion artist here in L.A., but there are a few other recent additions. These are varied, but fantastic:
(notice that I started with photography and moved to doing Shakedown Mambo’s packaging?)
(Buddy Zapata is also the guy who introduced me to Matt McCormack…)
Avery Roberts (my son!)(see the above CD cover) needed some demos recorded. Those demos turned into a self-published album entitled “Where Nothing Can Hurt Me“.
The aforementioned keyboard tracks for Matt McCormack’s new album were recorded in my studio, and then added to the mix by Matt’s amazing production team in San Antonio — an engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer.
Check out my “audio” page for more examples of my experience working as a composer, engineer, and producer.
All of these videos were shot and produced by Hearken Creative:
I was a founding member (keyboards again) of a Doobie Brothers tribute band, and developed an “homage” logo for that band:
As you can see, we are a one-stop shop for marketing musical acts. Does this limit us? No! We are still working on communications and marketing for pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits, colleges, museums, and more. But it’s fun to look at one market segment, and see how much incredibly fun material we have produced.
(The blog post title is from 2003’s movie “School of Rock”…)
I dislike the question “Are you busy?” — because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t crave “busy-ness” — being busy just for the sake of being busy. However!…I love filling my life with experiences. Over the past decade, between my wife and I, we have added a teaching credential, several certifications, graduating from Cal State L.A., thousands of miles of travel for both business and pleasure, and — as of a few days ago — not one but two teenagers in the house! (Ooops — I forgot — now I’m directing a church choir too.) And that’s on top of the day-to-day running of a household and business.
The point is this: I love learning. Lately I have been reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why (unsure if I agree with his premise, but still interesting), a bunch of blogs on HTML5 and e-mail deliverability, someone’s senior thesis comparing the Contemporary Christian worship/music industry to European Communism, and a bunch of online articles on both marketing and studio music production. I also try and read at least one work of fiction per month. Tonight I’ll be a chaperone for a children’s choir while they rehearse with Gustavo Dudamel at Disney Hall. All of this activity keeps my mind constantly seeing new things, new solutions, new issues, new opportunities. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But would I jump at helping you out with a new project tomorrow? Of course! Give me a call.
Busy-ness aside, here are some new projects that just launched this week:
Matt Frazier website. Matt and I have been friends for over 20 years, and when it was time for him to get a website makeover, he came to me with very specific hopes: short, easy-to-navigate, boldly individual, and something that he could continue to update on his own. We developed a one-page website out of relatively-simple HTML5, and Matt has already done a bunch of updates himself since it launched a few days ago. Matt has been in the music industry for a long time (and he’s a fantastic musician himself!), and has a deep understanding of music theory, money — as it relates to music, and recording/producing. We wish him all the best with the new website, and a new stage in his career.
Jon Leonoudakis website. Jon and I have worked on several films together — both behind the camera, and in the marketing department. I shot footage for his award-winning documentaries “The Day the World Series Stopped” and “Hano! A Century In the Bleachers“, and then designed the packaging and websites for both films when principal photography was wrapped. So, when Jon needed a new website, he contacted me and we worked out a deal that was win-win for everyone. Like Matt, Jon was interested in having something that he could continue to update himself, so Hearken Creative set up a robust WordPress site where everything is modular, and Jon can continue to grow the site as his production company grows. We’re excited to see where Jon goes next with his unique brand of storytelling, and awesome producing style!
Other projects that have been happening recently:
I designed much of the collateral artwork for The Planetary Society’s spacecraft-building Kickstarter campaign, and they have almost completed fulfilling all of the “rewards” for the campaign. They also have recently named the new spacecraft — which will hopefully launch later this year — Lightsail2. You can see many of my photographs in the updates to the campaign.
Kendra Celise continues to post music videos from the live studio session we filmed at my studio. Over the course of six weeks, these videos have given her several thousand new views, and helped her launch her upcoming EP and her newest single “Admit It Baby” — we love her music, and hope that the launch is wildly successful!
Finally, I have been going back to revisit the footage that I shot during my two trips to northern Japan after the tsunami. We only publicly released one video from that footage — the wildly-popular “Nozomi Project” mini-documentary — and I’d like to see if I can show more of how local churches in Japan have been assisting with the re-building…both physically and emotionally. The people that I have met on my many trips to Asia are held in a special place in my heart, and it makes me happy when people see what great community-building work is going on there. So I hope to have some new Japan videos out soon — maybe even to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the tsunami in a few weeks.
So yes…we’re busy. But not in a bad way. And do you need a project like one of these for yourself of your company? Give me a call — I’m sure we can get something wonderful going. I’m never too busy to sit down and talk with you.
It’s always fun seeing the fruition of months of work. We get to do it every quarter, with The Planetary Society’s magazine The Planetary Report. Because I am a stickler for details and always want to see projects through to the very end, I spend a day in Orange County at the printshop doing press checks and ensuring that each magazine prints perfectly. (They print over 50,000 copies of the magazine, on a big web press. It’s a fun process to watch.)
This type of work is not what most people think of when they hire a creative director or marketing manager, but quality counts. My aim is to make every project we produce a home-run for the client. It’s all about matching the right message with the right media — be it a website, or magazine, or brochure, or e-mail blast.
Over the next few weeks we will have a new website launch to feature, some more video projects, and more! Stay tuned…