Lars Bastholm, Steve Wax and Grant Parker

Creative Review is 30. To celebrate we have decided, in this 10 part feature, to look forward rather than back.

We asked a range of prominent figures, including practitioners, critics, curators and academics, to tell us about one thing, person, idea or place that they were excited about for the future.

For three decades we have covered the most interesting developments in visual communications: these articles will give you some idea of the ideas, people and directions that you might find in CR in the next 30 years.

The evolution of storytelling
Chosen by Lars Bastholm, chief digital creative officer,
Ogilvy North America and Steve Wax, co-founder and
managing partner, Campfire, New York

What really excites me is the ongoing evolution of storytelling. Alternate Reality Gaming or Trans­media storytelling are just two of the names for what’s going on. Stories have mostly been told in the same way for millennia: one-way from author to reader/ listener/viewer/user. The stories have always remained the same, the recipient could only influence them by re-reading or rewinding to experience their favourite parts again. That’s all changing. Storytelling is becoming a social experience akin to reading bedtime stories to kids, where you’ll sometimes have to make up parts after the curious child asks about the fate of a minor character or asks you to expand on a beloved scene. The audiences are the co-authors, and it’s become a two-way street for creators of narratives.

Look at the way the creators of Lost have managed to use digital platforms to keep the audience engaged and fascinated between seasons, and how the arg Why So Serious made The Dark Knight one of the most successful movies by engaging the fanbase and beyond in the narrative for over a year before the movie opened. And go to Central Park and fire up the iPhone app The Hidden Park and use the combination of GPS/compass and aug­mented reality to experience a story unlike ever before.

These are just a few examples of a nascent revo­lu­tion in narratives. I don’t think the passive narrative will go away at all, but for a generation that has grown up with role-playing in games and the ability to influence the world around them through the giant loud­speaker that is the internet, odds are that the communal and engaged story will become a favourite.

Some of the hipper authors spend a lot of time engaging with their audience on, for example, Twitter. Neil Gaiman, Brian Lee O’Malley and Joe Hill are a few that come to mind. They take their relationship with their audience very seriously and while they are ultimately the sole creators of their works, it’s highly likely that some will soon start using digital channels to allow their audience an even greater impact on their stories.

So far, these types of stories lives mostly in the entertainment space, but as the culture vultures we are in advertising, there’s little doubt that brands will soon follow suit. The soap opera All My Children has been running for 40 years on American tv. Advertisers originally invented the format as a vehicle for delivering advertising to housewives watching daytime TV. I’m waiting for the format to get reinvented for the people who are online all day. It’s a wide open field, where we’ve only just gotten our toes wet and that’s what makes it so exciting for me.
Lars Bastholm

I’m excited about the potential of the marketing that has been created to promote entertain­ment events. Whether it’s the marketing of Lost, Cloverfield, or True Blood, we have seen plots aug­mented, new characters created, and chunks of narrative distributed via new channels. The goal is to surround a potential audience with multiple entry points into films and TV shows, expanding the audience while we build fandom among adherents.

But what’s really fascinating and potentially powerful is the promise that these new character and story elements – ostensibly marketing content – will become part of the entertain­ment event, blurring the line completely between story and advertising.

As writers work to create more and more threads in multiple media, and advertising professionals work to make ads that appear to come from the complex world of the film or TV show, there will be little difference between a screenwriter and an adman.
Steve Wax

Chosen by Grant Parker, head of art, DDB London

There is some­thing incredibly satisfying about The Jungle, the second magazine from Nobrow Press.

For me, it’s not just the diverse collection of illus­trations, or the beautiful three spot-colour printing. It’s the fact that it is a large, tactile, solid publication that you can enjoy paging through which makes it such a success. We are so used to hunting out illustrators online, but seeing them printed is still the most indulgent way. As they say on their website (yes, their website – it would be foolish to be totally old school) ‘Nobrow Press is all about publishing beautifully tactile illustrated books’. Such a simple, great mantra in today’s cyberworld.”

Nobrow (studio pictured left) is a small press in East London specialising in limited edition illustration and graphics publications.

It was set up in 2008 by Sam Arthur and Alex Spiro to provide platform for illus­tration, graphics and commercial art oriented publi­cations. Arthur is formerly a director of commercials, short films and pop promos. Spiro studied history at Oxford before a love of collecting print ephemera drew him into the world of small press publishing.

To find out more about Nobrow, watch our film or visit

What's the story?

The Storytelling issue, Oct/Nov 2017, is out now.
We invited writers to respond to our cover image
this month: read their stories inside.
PLUS: Tom Gauld, Oliver Jeffers, Giphy & S-Town

Buy the issue

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