Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

A little story about Airbag Industries’ new Sundance Film Festival site

Posted on 05 October 2007 8 comments

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The other day, my attention was drawn to the new Sundance Film Festival site created by Greg Storey and the Airbag Industries team. This was of particular interest to me as, earlier in the year, I was one of the individuals / agencies asked to pitch for the job.

You might expect what follows to be a bitter account of why I should’ve got the gig and how I would’ve created something much better. On the contrary. Not only is this beautiful site quite possibly Airbag’s best work to date, but the final product perfectly answers the initial brief (as well as the various requests along the way, no doubt). The fact that I didn’t win the pitch also ended up being a good thing for me: if I’d won it, I would’ve left my day job (which at the time was at Sanctuary Records) and embarked upon a world of full-time freelancing, which would’ve then made me unable to accept Ryan’s job offer when it came along about a month later. So my unsuccessful pitch actually changed my life for the better.

But it’s not just a twist of fate that makes me glad another agency got this job; I’m genuinely pleased that such a great team got to work their magic with this prpject (and at this point I should also point out that the actual design of the site was handled by Ryan Sims, he of Virb / The Big Noob fame). Last week, Andy Budd and I were discussing the scenario of losing a pitch to a friend and / or respected peer. He said that he was always happy to see good work go to good designers and developers; that it was a nice consolation to lose the gig to someone you really respected and to whom you know would do a good job. So it was ironic that this scenario presented itself to me a week later.

On a small sidenote of further irony / trivia, Greg and I actually discussed the possibility of doing some work together a few months ago. So at one stage, there was even the potential that I could’ve worked on the Sundance site despite losing the pitch myself!

Anyway, the moral of this story is that in this circumstance, everybody was a winner: the successful agency, the satisfied client, and the engaged end user. Well done on the great site, guys!


  1. Adam


    05 October 2007 @ 01:32PM #

    Very admirable post ..
    Any chance you would post a screen of your design?

  2. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    05 October 2007 @ 02:14PM #

    Thanks Adam. There was no design, I’m afraid – just a detailed pitch document. Perhaps Greg & co. actually sent a design… and perhaps that helped them win! Haha!

  3. garrett


    05 October 2007 @ 02:22PM #

    I also lost out on a pitch to Greg, the redesign of gamespy to be exact, but I think there’s alot to be learned from it. It’s also always interesting to see how someone responds to a brief in comparison to your own thoughts.

  4. Rodrigo


    06 October 2007 @ 05:36AM #

    Wow, I have to say you are a great sport. I’m so competitive it eats at my very core, hehe.

    There really is a very valuable lesson to be learned here.

    Hat’s off to you.

  5. Zinni


    07 October 2007 @ 01:39AM #

    Great post once again, it is always interesting to see the end result of a job that you also pitched and lost… However, I find it more interesting when the end result comes out really horrible. Then you can be relatively sure that it was better off in the long run that you didn’t get the job and think of all the reasons why (i.e. bad client/designer communication, looking for a cheap solution, think smack about the competition :) etc…).

    keep up the great posts,

    ~ Zinni

  6. Greg


    08 October 2007 @ 08:07PM #

    Elliot, you’re a talented guy who, no doubt, will go places but I don’t understand why you felt the need to write this. In the fourteen years I’ve worked in this industry I’ve never seen anyone write about a job they didn’t get and then go on to suppose that they could have worked on it? What’s the point?

    Sims was tapped for that project the day I got the call from Sundance. I had been looking for an opportunity to work with Ryan and this project was worthy of his skills and time. Its been a great project thus far.

    And for the sake of everyone who works in the web design industry lets be very clear on this: We never, ever—not in a million year—do any design or creative work as part of a proposal. That would be a complete waste of time and resources.

  7. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    08 October 2007 @ 09:30PM #

    @ Greg:

    Thanks for leaving the comment. I’m so sorry to hear that this post has caused offence; it was meant as nothing but praise to you, Ryan, and the Airbag team – and I mean that absolutely sincerely. I can only assume that we’ve got our wires crossed and I get the impression you think I was saying something I was not. Please allow me to set things straight…

    My brief sidenote about how I could’ve ended up working on the Sundance site with you was not meant as anything but an amusing passing thought. It was more or less a literal translation of what I said to my girlfriend when I found out you’d built the site: a kind of “hey, the Sundance site was done by that guy I discussed working with some months back… wouldn’t it have been weird if…” etc. I can now see in hindsight how it might’ve come across as a little arrogant; perhaps seeming like I’d assumed my potential involvement with the project. In fact, reading your comment, it seems highly likely that this is what you took it to mean. Again, this was not the point! If there was a point to this post at all, it was to a) praise your excellent work, and b) put into writing the talk I was having with Andy.

    I’m deeply sorry for this confusion. It’s yet another example of how the meaning of text-based (or is that internet-based?) conversations can go awry. Let’s hope this has cleared things up a bit.

  8. Ben


    16 November 2007 @ 08:08PM #

    Comes across as a little bitter thats all..

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