WHAT DO YOU DO?
primarily producing brand identities and Squarespace websites, along with directing brand strategy, hardware design, illustration and interiors.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
After degrees in communication studies and professional photography, I found myself drawn to creative direction where I get to be the ideas person and work with creative talent more skilled and hard-working than I am. In particular, I was drawn to product design and the challenges of developing physical products and all the supporting branding elements.
I launched Detraform to support my passion project, the L7 telephone. I started with no experience, no connections in the industry, and no evidence I could succeed. Along the way I partnered with a London-based product design agency, a Chinese manufacturer, and a Swiss heritage brand to bring my vision to market. The L7 went on to appear in retail shops through Europe and Asia and was celebrated in the pages of Monocle, Wallpaper and Wired. By the time the project was complete, I was ready to offer a wide range of experience to my clients.
In addition to creative direction and project management, I’ve worked to develop my design and Squarespace expertise in order to add a hard skill I can deliver myself without support.
HOW DO YOU STAND OUT IN YOUR FIELD?
As a genuine creative type I always feel like there’s someone better than me, so I try to stand out with super professional business practices and great communication. As a creative director I can bring in additional talent to get the best work for the budget. For websites I spend a lot of time on information architecture and helping a client express their value proposition clearly.
I like to keep my website design and interactions very simple, while focussing on bringing the personality and polish to a project through illustrations, photography and graphics.
As a design entrepreneur I also have a deep understanding of physical product design and development.
Working with US clients while living in Montreal & Mexico City allows me to take advantage of the current exchange rates to offer a great price and still make more money!
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I’m working on a fun client project rebranding a Taiko drumming center where I chose to direct a team of Brazilian illustrators to develop an Japanese style anime character. It’s a real international project. Working with illustrators to bring personality to a project is a favourite part of my job.
I’m also at the looking-for-funding stage for a new home electronics brand I’m working to launch with my partners at Kiwi & Pom.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
In 2019 the brands that resonate with customers express themselves with authenticity, do business with transparency, and show creative courage in their design decisions.
The world is full of “vanilla” brands and designs. I like to focus on a particular market and speak to that demographic with a lot of personality. Minimalism is on the way out. The trend now is a lot of colour, playful illustrations and communication that expresses a brand’s internal values. My favourite projects are those where I can bring a lot of personality to the brand, pushing the tone in a particular direction. I definitely bring my own taste to each project, but rest assured, it’s not about building a my portfolio. Rather I work to provide the best value and customized design solutions according to the each client’s goals.
My favourite project for a love-or-hate design style (the British call it a marmite design) is the L7 telephone and all the supporting design work. For branding taste, Mindset and Chicago Home Tutor show the old school infused logo stylings I love. For a polished photography-based website style see Casa Jacaranda. For illustration heavy project styles see michigantaiko.net.
WE ALL HAVE MULTIPLE SKILLS OR WORK IN VARIOUS INDUSTRIES, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD FOCUS ON MORE?
Lately, I’ve been enjoying working with smaller business and consultants, where my work can make a big impact. I’m trying to focus on brand identities and Squarespace site while looking for opportunities to do more hardware and interior design.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Oh boy, when it’s winter in Montreal and I wish I could keep my energy level up through the afternoons during the dark days of winter. As it is, I wake early and get as much focused work done through the morning before I start to slow down. I’m also a bit of a lone-wolf so it’s often work to get out of my comfort zone and make more connections. Spending part of my year in Mexico City is part of the solution.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
I’ve long dreamed of an assistant, someone who could do market research, make introductions, and bring in new clients. Is that a $20/hour job? Maybe just someone to write my blog and improve my SEO!
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
“Someday a crazy wild-eyed scientist or a kid may show up asking about that book. And if that ever happens . . . “
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I would love to connect with more design entrepreneurs/brand owners about how they built their brand and all the unexpected challenges they met along the way.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
My ideal client would be a hardware startup with a great idea and the funding to bring it to market- a team strong on engineering but weak on design, who would trust me to direct all the design work. I would produce the brand strategy which would inform my work to produce the company name, product design, visual identity and website.
Month to month I enjoy a mix of client work including simple Squarespace websites I can turn around quickly, and larger branding & website projects I can really sink my teeth into and leave my mark on the business.
I’ve long been interested to provide creative direction for a conference, combining elements of branding, social media, environment, experience and community building.
I’m also looking for opportunities to produce more interiors. I’m dreaming about partnering with a developer to design a community of A-frame cabins north or Montreal, to serve the city folk looking for the perfect cabin weekend.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
My ideal client is someone who has a good understanding of their business and values and is excited to produce something unexpected. I also love to collaborate with other designers that fill in the blanks in my own skill set, to create something great together.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
In general my hourly rate is $60/hour, and my day rate is $400, but most clients are billed a flat project fee based on the scope.
Squarespace website: $1500-$3500
Brand Identity + Squarespace website: $3500 - $8000
Product Design + Brand Identity + Squarespace website: starting at $25,000
WHO IS IN YOUR GO-TO SQUAD?
As a creative director I’m usually working with my people under the umbrella of a Detraform project. Sometimes, I’ll also recommend the following people directly.
Brand Strategy & Company Culture:
Erin Willet at the Tap in Team
Erin is an incredible listener, produces great strategy, and empowers her clients to act on it.
Kam Young at Kiwi & Pom
I work together with Kam on any product design projects. He’s super professional, delightful to work with and delivers great designs.
Storytelling & Copywriting:
Flavie does a great job of understanding hard to communicate business (like consultants) and telling their story with clear and punchy copy.
Jackson Whiteman at Proper Propaganda
Jackson does business with integrity and has fashioned his firm as a sought after PR firm for hardware Kickstarter campaigns.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Send me a message at email@example.com. Please include your phone number and a good time to reach you. I look forward to learning about your business and seeing if we’re a good match!
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Trips to Mexico City provide endless inspiration. CDMX is a design lover’s dream land full of breathtaking architecture from every era, and stunning interiors.
This member profile was originally published in March 2019.