top of page
Poster for the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival

TIFF Next Wave Film Festival

Identity for annual film festival aimed at film fans under 20

Role: Graphic Designer

Founded in 2010, the TIFF Next Wave Committee is a group of twelve young film enthusiasts from high schools across Toronto. With the guidance of TIFF staff, the Committee plans major teen-oriented events at TIFF Bell Lightbox, including the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival.

For the inaugural TIFF Next Wave Film Festival in 2011, I worked with the committee to develop a creative identity for the event. The committee was a fantastic resource. They were an endless source of inspiration, and quite candid with their feedback. They were explicit about what they didn’t want to see on the poster, citing examples of brands that they felt spoke down to them.

So, I set out to speak to teenagers in the same way we would speak to TIFF’s various other segmented audiences. It simply had to touch on their shared cultural experiences, which while these are influenced by their age, isn’t really defined by it.

Using a pair of sneakers, a pastiche of surf, punk and graffiti elements, I set out to create a nostalgia-tinged piece, that was specific to no one particular person’s experience, to no specific era. (I was inspired in no small part by the album artwork for Vacation by punk band Bomb The Music Industry!)

Bomb the Music Industry! Vacation album cover

I learned a valuable lesson on this project. When originally presenting the concept, I had used a couple of photographs by Karlheinz Weinberger as a placeholder image. Unfortunately, the committee had fallen in love with the concept thinking those images would be included, but I had simply used them for illustrative purposes (and knew that licensing them was financially out of the question).

This was my first experience with a maxim I've long since taken to heart: Never present work that you cannot or would not put in market. Those images belonged in a mood board, but definitely never should have appeared in the mockups we used to sell the concept.

In later years, when I transitioned from the project's designer to its art director, we also evolved the artwork to align closer with (then) current trends, using an 8-bit character creative in 2015, and doodles/sketches in 2016 and 2017.

The front covers of the 2013 and 2014 brochures for TIFF Next Wave

For the festival's second and third years, I lightly revised the original identity, making small adjustments from year to year.

TTC Subway advertisement for the TIFF Next Wave festival 2014

Looking back on these, I am struck by how an aesthetic that was in line with the trends of the time has aged so quickly — especially the typography.


While many older projects of mine could be issued today with few changes, I would be a little apprehensive of putting any these Next Wave pieces in market without some substantial reworking.

bottom of page