Writer John Schulian
Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio

New website launched for writer John Schulian

A confession: my wife and I loved watching Xena: Warrior Princess when it was on TV back in the ’90s. So when a friend introduced me to the co-creator of that series, I kinda geeked out. And then he asked me to build him a website!

So…my newest website is for John Schulian, who is promoting his first novel after writing magazine columns and editing books and crafting screenplays for the past few decades. For someone who is writing hard-boiled noir, and has covered bloody sports (he has some great articles on boxing), John is a wonderful human being — we end up talking about life, music, favorite books, and film every time we get together.

My aims in building the website were:

  • reflect the gritty quality of the novel, as well as the iconic L.A. skyline that graces the book’s cover
  • create an easy-to-navigate, responsive website that encouraged sales of the book
  • honor (and capitalize on) the body of work that John has amassed through books, magazines, and online stories

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I think the initial website is very successful here, and we will keep adding more content to the site as the book drops — signing and reading dates, sales, reviews and endorsements, and more.

As the web continues to evolve, it becomes more and more important to recognize the specific needs of each client. Do we need a static website? Do we need dynamic content? Is some sort of interaction warranted? How does what’s online affect the overall brand? As a marketing expert, these are the questions that I ask at the beginning of every project. Beautiful websites (or any design, for that matter) are secondary to the ultimate goal: achieving increased sales, donations, or overall market share. What we do is innovate in such a way that your company — be it one author or a major company — can attract eyeballs…and sales.

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video

New indie movie released with HCS support

I did mention that we do movies, right? Hearken Creative supported the release of Hano! A Century In The Bleachers on so many different levels:

  • Loren A. Roberts shot some of the interviews for the film
  • HCS designed the e-commerce website for the film
  • HCS designed the DVD packaging and marketing graphics
  • Loren A. Roberts shot the “hero” studio photography for the film’s key art

HanoDoc-DVD-hero-box-final-733x1000When coming to Hearken Creative, director Jon Leonoudakis knew the breadth of skills that were available from us: Jon has collaborated with us on two previous film projects — Not Exactly Cooperstown (camera) and The Day the World Series Stopped (camera, packaging, website). Jon’s passion for baseball is infectious, and we have found ourselves with a new respect for the game — even hitting up some major and minor league games recently! Jon’s professionalism and passion has paid off: both previous films have been recognized worldwide in film festivals (and Not Exactly Cooperstown has even been screened at the Baseball Hall of Fame).

We love working on projects like this: where quality and passion come together to make something truly unique. We congratulate Jon on his newest release, and look forward to the next project that we get to work on with him!

Blog, business, graphic design, photography

New Photography Portfolio Page!

We’re slow to toot our own horn around here, mostly because we’re so busy with current projects. But I wanted to mention a new portfolio page on the site, even though we have been doing this for years: PHOTOGRAPHY.

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We create iconic shots for our clients all the time. For instance, the image above is from Shakedown Mambo‘s CD packaging, which we designed (we also did their website!). The photo captures the energy of a recording session in progress perfectly, and feels like one of the iconic photos of 1970s jazz or rock bands.

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We have also created one-of-a-kind architectural shots, like this one of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Multiple photographs from all hours of the day and night were composited to create this other-worldly image of their building. It’s a stunning image.

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Event photography? Yes. Production shots for shows? Yes. Portraiture? Yes. Product photography? Of course. Check it all out on the photography portfolio pages. We will continue adding more photos to keep it fresh!

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, photography, post production for film and video, sound

Welcome to 2014.

Well, we’re legal. Or, of legal age. Or will be really soon…my business will be drinking age in the state of California this year!

Hearken Creative Services turns 21 this year. I don’t know what significance that holds, except that we’ve been working with some truly wonderful vendors and clients for a very long time.

Let me tell you a few things that I have observed over the years.

First, whether it be print or web or video or skywriting, story is essential. And not just any story, but a story that invites you in to partake in the story. Here’s an example:

Cecilia has been working to learn English and support her family at the same time. She now has a good enough grasp of the English language — through the help of “Charity X” — that she has enrolled in college to get her law degree. But she needs your help to finish this wonderful task: Cecilia will spend an hour volunteering in your community for every dollar raised towards her college education — giving back through her education in response to your giving.

Or here’s another one, for a pharmaceutical company:

Phil has spent his entire adult life researching Type Two Diabetes, because it has claimed so many lives in his extended family. Finally, after years of dead ends, Phil’s partnership with “ABC Pharmaceutical” has paid off, and they have received approval for a revolutionary treatment that will change the lives of millions of people living with Type Two Diabetes. There is nothing so rewarding as finding a solution to a problem that plagues so many people — and Phil wants to share it with you.

Story changes everything. It makes you — the reader — interact with the product/service/philanthropic cause in a way you never would if it weren’t for story. Remember the Axe deodorant commercials from a few years ago? Whether or not you liked them, you can’t argue with the power or the “stickiness” of the story: put Axe on, and the girls go wild over you. You remember that meme, and therefore remember the brand.

Second: you get what you pay for. Nothing worthwhile is ever free.

I remember a tradeshow that one of my clients went to — this was some time ago — and they wanted to cut corners significantly. So, instead of printing up brochures, catalogs, posters, and ads, they asked me to create “masters” of a few flyers that they could print up themselves on colored copy paper, using the company copy machine. I understand that there is a time and place for cheap flyers, but this was not the time or place. The event tanked for them, and they lost money and credibility within that community.

You want video? It will cost. But why would you not pay for good quality video? At this point, YouTube ensures that any well-produced video you create could potentially still be working for you in 3, 4, 5 or more years. What brochure could do that for you?

You want to send an e-mail blast? Like those tradeshow flyers, you could throw together a cheap, poorly-designed e-mail, but why? This could potentially be the sales tool that convinces someone to buy, so why try to cut corners? And here’s something more: YouTube was going to give you returns beyond the initial cost over time; a well-designed e-mail could be sent to double or triple the number of people on your list — you just have to find those people!

Finally (at least for today): Experience counts. Twenty years ago, I was a good designer. Today I am a fantastic art director, brand consultant, and project manager. Fifteen years ago I was a good audio mixer. Today, I have the experience to produce, direct, and monetize corporate audio and video for my clients. That doesn’t mean I don’t like working with younger talent, but it does mean that I understand the value of experience. It also means I love partnering with people who are even more experienced than I am. Right now I’m working on a video project and, because of my schedule and experience, I felt that it would be a good idea to bring another director/editor to work with me. He brings a set of skills that are a little different from mine, and I value the opportunity to learn from him. And, the client gets an even better product!

I truly don’t know everything; (hopefully) I’m learning new things every day. But it is gratifying to see this little freelance company that I started — after getting laid off from the entertainment industry in 1993 — chugging along 21 years later, helping people through design, marketing, brand management, and video marketing.

Happy New Year. May your story be told, spend your money wisely, and may you have ever-greater experiences to bank on in the new year.

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, portfolio, post production for film and video

Two new websites live

Websites fulfill some very important tasks in today’s world. First and foremost, they are the electronic version of a business card — providing name and contact information for a new vendor or client. But they can do so much more than a business card, and Hearken Creative has just finished two such sites.

HARVARD BUSINESS PRESS BESTSELLER

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When Karen Berman and Joe Knight asked for a website that advertised the new edition of their bestselling book Financial Intelligence, I suggested doing things a little bit differently. Instead of creating a traditional site, maybe just a single page with some video and strong copy would be enough to draw people in — without overwhelming them with information. Using Premise landing page software from Copyblogger & Studiopress, and a backend theme from WooThemes (Canvas, specifically), we created a punchy landing page with a video of co-author Joe Knight talking about the book. Here is where it gets good…

The YouTube video (which Hearken Creative filmed and produced as well) is SEO-ready, so that it becomes a key driver of more eyeballs (remember, YouTube is almost as important as Google when it comes to search). In addition, video is much more enjoyable than simply reading a page of copy. The video also can get used in multiple streams:

  1. on YouTube,
  2. on the new landing page,
  3. on the client’s existing website,

therefore getting more bang for the buck of the dollars spent on video.

As stated, the previous edition of the book was already a bestseller (translated into over a dozen languages), so getting more traction for the new edition is simply icing on the cake. Still, a good landing page will help drive sales even further.

STICKING A TOE INTO THE E-COMMERCE RIVER

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Longtime friend and colleague Alison Siewert has received accolades for writing short dramas seen at conferences and events. But she has never had a place to sell the scripts, which have recently been receiving more and more attention. So we created a website where those scripts can be downloaded — directly from the website — for a small fee.

The e-commerce solution was ready-made — again from WooThemes — and was relatively easy to set up. The site has already generated business, and we look forward to assisting Alison as she grows the business even further.

Both of these sites were designed and produced by Loren A. Roberts at Hearken Creative. Our multi-disciplinary approach allowed us to use the best tools available to come up with real-world solutions for our clients, including imagery, producing and editing video, and (as always) cutting-edge, award-winning  graphic design.

We can take the same approach for your company as well. Call us today at 626-396-1500 to talk about your online needs.

Blog, business, graphic design, portfolio

Newest issue of The Planetary Report drops

The December 2011 issue of The Planetary Report went out at the end of the year. The final issue of the year is historically a “year-in-pictures” issue, and this issue did not disappoint with some truly stunning images splayed across the pages of the magazine.

I was very happy with the work of our printer (The Dot Printer in Irvine, CA); they worked hard to capture my intent with each picture.

When I get a minute (kinda busy right now), a few people have asked for a “before/after” comparison: what we did in the redesign to give the magazine a new identity. I would like to do that, although I must say that the design firm who did the magazine before HCS did a tremendous job for decades, so any “improvements” that I made truly attempted to take what had worked for years in the old magazine and bring it up to date.

But that will have to be in another blog post. For now, check out these beautiful spreads…

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

all images and text copyright 2011 The Planetary Society

Join the Planetary Society today and get this magazine in your mailbox four times a year, and know that your donation goes towards space research, education, and advocating space within the governments of the world!