STORYHIVE Designer Ellen Lee goes for the bright and bold

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When she's not designing artwork, you can find Ellen Lee gardening in her home of Calgary, Alberta.

STORYHIVE designer Ellen Lee is no stranger to seeing her work featured on streaming video services, on magazine covers (and inside, too!), on bus stops and billboards—especially when it comes to film.

Lee is largely responsible for STORYHIVE’s overall aesthetic: from its branding to box art to its program campaigns and social media. Her aesthetic permeates all that is STORYHIVE, including the artwork that beckons emerging creators in British Columbia and Alberta  to apply for production funding, training and distribution on TELUS Optik TV. 

While the funding may be enough to get indie film creators curious, Lee’s eye-catching blend of bold colour and DIY design tactics ultimately make the viewer want to react.

Perhaps that’s because she’s no stranger to the film industry. The Calgary-based artist first got her chops making posters for Vancouver’s Sensory Cinema events.

“At Sensory Cinema, at key moments in the movie, [viewers] were served a dish in relation to that moment,” Lee recalls.

Now, you’ll find Lee’s artwork all over the Vancouver International Film Festival – she created the posters for 2019’s Feminist Live Reads, Goblin, and the Chuck D Song Exploder, all part of the FILMS+ offerings at the annual film festival.

“Movie posters, book covers, I love looking at all those sorts of things. I can appreciate when something is really minimal and doesn’t have a lot going on--or so it seems,” Lee explains, “but I can also appreciate when something is loud and in-your-face, and has bold and bright colours and shapes.”

Chalk it up to her self-proclaimed “teenage girl” art style, an aesthetic she got to express when she worked at not-for-profit, anti-capitalist magazine, “Adbusters.”

“I’m like a teenage girl, I love collaging,” she says with a laugh. “Maybe that’s where that comes from. [At Adbusters,] we used a lot of collage and tried to make things look like it was done by hand; that it was analog. It was also really bold and in-your-face and made to grab your attention.”

You’ll find that influence in Lee’s work with STORYHIVE. In addition to all of its branding and program campaigns, you’ll see her designs on TELUS originals box art such as “Pure Bred Love,” “Darby Mills: Queen of Scream,” and “The Best and Brightest: Journey to the Canada-wide Science Fair.”

While Lee’s touch can be seen through each poster, they’re equally individual in style.

“I work hard at being flexible and trying to adapt to companies and brands so that I can be seen as a designer for them in the future,” Lee offers, but explains her love for the bold and bright are directly influenced by her love of travel.

“You can see in my design where I’ve traveled,” she explains. “I’m really drawn to Mexico, where it has these vibrant colours and is so stimulating on so many levels. Colours, food, the environment.” 

The same could be said for the three years she lived in Bali, surfing and freelancing.

When she’s not designing for STORYHIVE, TELUS originals, local film organizations and emerging creators, you can find Lee taking in beautiful artwork elsewhere.

“I love looking at cookbooks from Phaidon. I think they put out really beautiful cookbooks,” she enthuses, “I find a lot of inspiration in film titles by CHIPS and book covers by Na Kim and Rodrigo Corral.”

Find Ellen’s work on TELUS originals as “Pure Bred Love,” “Darby Mills: Queen of Scream” and “The Best and Brightest: Journey to the Canada-wide Science Fair” and more on her website

Article by Kristi Alexandra.

From the team
Posted onJun 07, 2022
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