ADC StartUP Series

ADC StartUP Series - student project

Thank you for the inspiring class, Chip! 

I especially appreciated the thoughts around when and how to use Photography vs Illustration. I've found this to be a challenge in the past with poster design — especially when producing a brand-new event that needs promotional materials in order to sell tickets. How does one convey the feeling of an event that never existed before and doesn't have photos or confirmed speakers yet? 

For this reason, I decided to go the illustration route for a project I worked on at the Art Directors Club — the ADC StartUP speaker series. 


ADC StartUP Series - image 1 - student project


This TED-like talk series was created to spotlight the stories of creative entrepreneurs who quit their ad agency and design firm dayjobs and fled to greener pastures in the startup world.

Highlights of this event include Cindy Gallop (former head of BBH New York), David Carson (founder of, FUSE TV, and The New Stand), Jared Cocken (Chief Product Officer of Fitocracy), Farrah Bostic (Founder of The Difference Engine, former creative strategist at Wieden+Kennedy, Digitas, TBWA/Chiat/Day, et al), Viktoria Harrison (Creative Director, charity:water), Matthew Manos (CEO of verynice), Pamela Castillo (Co-founder of Market Publique), Kim Bost (Product Design Lead, Etsy) and more. 


ADC StartUP Series - image 2 - student project


Going back to the initial challenge of "how do we convey the tone of this event when no photos exist yet?" as well as the idea that it should differentiate itself from the other Silicon Valley tech-bro events out there, we chose to go the route of Illustration rather than photography. 

Working with illustrator Jeff Kulak and graphic designer/artist Nick Mittelstead, we put together a series of posters that were simple and colorful, with a little arrowhead character who "took the leap" and quit his agency job to explore the startup world. 

This character could be seen doing a number of activities — digging out of his cubicle, flying a paper airplane to escape from an office highrise, physically "breaking free" from the shackles of the corporate world, and many other fun metaphors and puns. 

The "arrow" significance was to emphasize the "UP" in startup, and growth in your creative career. 


ADC StartUP Series - image 3 - student project

ADC StartUP Series - image 4 - student project


Thanks to Jeff Kulak's loose geometric illustration style, we were able to translate the poster campaign into many different media for the event (social, swag, etc.) which helped to set a fun, positive tone throughout — and achieve a sold-out room during its debut. 

And now there are photos to use for the next poster concept! 


ADC StartUP Series - image 5 - student project

ADC StartUP Series - image 6 - student project

ADC StartUP Series - image 7 - student project

ADC StartUP Series - image 8 - student project

Photo credit: Erik Valind Photography 

Zack Kinslow

Content Manager, Skillshare