Direct Mailer Part 1: Chris Buck is a Euphemist

The cover of my new awesome mailer, designed by Sylvia Gruber of Buero New York

Over the past month I’ve been rolling out a new direct mailer. I’m very excited about this piece. It’s likely the most impressive single piece that I’ve ever produced, but it didn’t start out that way.

A year and a half ago my agent suggested that we do a printed promotional piece that primarily showcased my recent commercial work. I was sure that this was a terrible idea. And I was correct, at least in the strictest sense.

I was talked into moving forward with it based on this argument: “Our clients know that you are a top editorial shooter, and that surely brings in assignments, but many aren’t aware that you also work on outstanding advertising campaigns on a regular basis. If we show them this, in a very straight-forward manner, it will lead to some big ad commissions coming our way.” It was that last bit that got my attention.

The majority of the stand-alone images in the piece are from editorial shoots. Left, an outtake from an ad shoot for Moviefone. Right, Chloe Sevigny, shot for Entertainment Weekly

The funny thing is that once I was on-board it was the agent who insisted that the piece must also retain the stranger and more unpredictable elements of my previous promotions and marketing. So here in lays the quandary: how do we make an overtly commercial direct mailer genuinely intriguing?

We actually went through two designers (friends of mine who over more than six months were not able to find a design solution) before we came to Buero New York, a smart and fantastically creative design firm originally from Austria. The owner and creative director is Alex Wiederin, our project manager was Ronit Avneri and the designer who brought the piece to life was Sylvia Gruber. From the overall look and feel to the rendering of the smallest design choices Sylvia is responsible for everything that is special about this piece.

The solution to the commercial vs. intrigue question was solved by bringing in two truly non-commercial elements: personal biography and mystery. Sylvia designed the piece so that it has an enclosed French fold, allowing us to “hide” fun and random bits from my photography and personal history literally within the promo. Each page has a perforated edge, so that the recipient has the option of splitting the pages to fully reveal the inside materials (I recommend this!).

Here, my beautiful assistant gives us a peak at some of the “hidden” material in the mailer

Sample “hidden” materials in the mailer: Left, photographer Sarah Wilmer brought a handmade card to my Nixon Frost birthday party in 2008; Right: an early 20th century photograph of a movie theatre on Queen Street West in Toronto, owned by my great-grandfather Peter Griffin.

The finished piece is 95 pages long! It still amazes me that something that started as an overtly commercial mailer has become the fullest and deepest rendering of my work and myself in a printed form. It’s part promo, part retrospective, part scrapbook, part fanzine.

A few subsequent blog postings will tell stories behind some of the bio materials hidden in the inner pages of the mailer. Watch for it here…

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7 Responses to Direct Mailer Part 1: Chris Buck is a Euphemist

  1. Brian Kelly says:

    Thanks, Chris…really great insight…I love the unexpected outcome. Can it be purchased?

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks for the feedback Brian! I will be selling the piece via my website, starting this summer when I set up “The Chris Buck Store” in anticipation of the fall release of my first book, PRESENCE: The Invisible Portrait. Of course, anyone commissioning photography can contact me at chris@chrisbuck.com to arrange for a complimentary copy of Euphemist.

  3. Pingback: Direct Mailer Part 3: Andrew Hetherington Tease | Chris Buck News

  4. sally berman says:

    this looks awesome! i want one.

  5. Alan Spindle says:

    I thought I was the only one who had discovered the insides! Well done. Old-skool Interactive media!

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