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My Creative Hero: Spike Jonze

Advertising Agency
Halifax, Canada
Shortstop's creative director Sam Archibald explains why the director has been so inspiring to him and his career

Sam Archibald is a creative director for Shortstop, based in Halifax, Canada. He spent his teen years running the streets with a skateboard and camera in hand in pursuit of creating cool stuff. Nowadays, his intentions are similar, making cool stuff for brands and marketers that want to stand out and please a crowd. He’s a fierce proponent of we versus me and volunteers with PrideAM, an organisation dedicated to promoting and celebrating LGBTQ+ people in the advertising and marketing industry.


LBB> Who would you say is your creative hero? 

Sam> Like many, my heroes can jump from reference to reference, but one that has quietly built an impact on me over my life has always been Spike Jonze.


LBB> How long has he been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting him or coming across his work?

Sam>I loved Spike’s work before I knew it was Spike. As I was growing up in the 90s/00s, his music videos were all over MuchMusic (the Canadian MTV), and it was always the kind of work that stuck with you. But, as a teenager, I had no idea who or what made this work. There is such a range but also a consistency of joy, fun, and subversiveness that reflecting makes sense, like “oh, of course, that’s a Spike Jonze video,” but back then, it was like did you see you that Fat Boy Slim video with the weird dance troupe?

Fat Boy Slim Praise You — Music Video

Or the Beastie Boys Sabotage video for its epic parody of 70’s crime dramas. But then, even as a little gay kid, the Björk video for It’s Oh So Quiet was a little world of drama and performance. I couldn’t look away.

I feel a kinship with Spike as both our teen years were spent skateboarding (or BMX’ing) and using that as a way to explore filmmaking. As I was falling into skating myself, I was equally enamoured with his work for Girl Skateboards (later Crailtap Distribution). His co-directed skits with Ty Evans and Rick Howard are imprinted on my brain as pure expressions of the feeling that comes from skating. The Invisible Board from Yeah Right!, the Chaplin sequence from Mouse, and the Fully Flared intro stand out to me.

While many reading this may be familiar with his venerable commercial work, I wasn’t exposed to it until I discovered the advertising industry in the late 00s. I distinctly remember seeing his Levi’s Flyweight Jeans commercial from 2002, but like his skateboarding and music video work, I didn’t know Spike worked on it.


LBB> If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know him and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know him, how did you go about finding to learn more about him and his work?

Sam> I can’t pinpoint exactly when it all clicked that this was the same person until about the mid-2000s. I would’ve been graduating high school, took a year off to make skateboard films in my hometown, and eventually decided I needed to go to university to learn film. I quickly pivoted from fine art film into a design program when I realised I wasn’t a fine artist but instead sought to do commercial work. How I landed in advertising is a long story. Still, that skateboarding played a massive role in guiding us to our careers is a testament to it as a vehicle of expression.

Girl Skateboards Yeah Right —  Invisible Board Skit

LBB> Why is he such an inspiration to you? 

Sam> Spike stands as a true creative to me, someone whose perspective never overpowers but amplifies the ideas he’s expressing. The innocence, sincerity and joy that his commercial, music video, and skateboarding work have brought me is something that, upon reflecting on this article, I haven’t fully felt his impact.

There are so many pieces of work that I discover he has done, and once you see it, you can see his thumbprint, that it has a fresh approach. I’m always left feeling that anything is possible. He can create work that leaves you smiling, amazed, and saying, “how did they do that?”

Apple Home Pod — Welcome Home

LBB> How does he influence you in your approach to your creative work? 

Sam> His approachability and personality reinforce my belief that good people can finish first. The nature of his work appears very collaborative, multidisciplinary and experimental. Those are all qualities I seek to inhabit in my work and with the people around me. 

There is a playfulness to his work that I think our industry could use more of. Being serious about the work but not allowing that seriousness to cloud the feelings of our audiences.

There’s also a conceptual mischievousness to Spike’s work, an irreverence characteristic of skateboarding. I am continually trying to return to that mindset when creating.

Lakai Footwear 'Fully Flared' — Intro

LBB> What piece or pieces of this person’s work do you keep coming back to and why?

Sam> I’d encourage you to watch so many pieces of work from Spike’s catalogue. Nostalgia, for me, is always in his skateboarding and music video work from the late 90s and early 00s. His commercial work has always been fresh, from early winners like Ikea’s Lamp and more recent work for Apple.

Girl Skateboards Mouse — Chaplin Skit

Beastie Boys Sabatoge — Music Video

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