IT DOESN'T ALWAYS TAKE A VILLAGE...
KARL ROWLEY, B.A.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER, OWNER
KARL ROWLEY is an experienced Canadian graphic designer with an extraordinary career path. For over thirty years he has created, designed, and produced graphic design work that abounds with creativity, precision, and effectiveness. He has approached his ever-evolving profession with unapologetic determination and success, from the era of the hand drawn inked board to today’s fully digital era. Rowley has worked for some of the most renowned brand names and his designs have been seen, used, and displayed all over the world. His career is marked by award-winning creations, some of which have received national and international recognition, like the United Nations World Tourism Organization Ulysses Award in June 2011 for his work done for The Accessible Road, or the internationally acclaimed and award-winning short film Ladies and Gentlemen, which was awarded Best Short Film and opened the Montreal World Film Festival in 2005, and the feature documentary The Cabinet of Doctor Ferron, winner of a Canadian Gemini Award in 2004.
Rowley is a member of the prestigious American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)—The professional association for design, Los Angeles chapter, and a member of the Société des designers graphiques du Québec (SDGQ), affiliated with Canada’s National Certification Body for graphic and communication designers, the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC).
Originally from Quebec City, Rowley graduated with distinction from Laval University with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Communications. He started his career by helping a startup become Quebec’s first fully computerized agency. Not only did he become a successful graphic designer using this emerging computer medium, but he was also in charge of training, equipment, and hiring. He then struck out on his own path and opened his first studio on August 1st, 1995, with a colleague, Les Dompteurs de Souris (The Mouse Tamers, now merged with Agence Minimal). After four years of great success with primarily Canadian government clients, like the National Battlefields Commission (NBC), and two Boomerang Awards for Webzine of the Year for his work on Showbizz.net, an online magazine that revolutionized entertainment news at the dawn of the Web era, his associate agreed to take over the studio in June 1999.
Rowley was then free to accept an unexpected offer to work in Paris, France, as Creative Director for one of Europe’s largest IT companies. The Canadian branch of the French company Keyrus persuaded him to move overseas within the next month and lead a business unit of designers and web experts during the “Dotcom” frenzy of the 2000s. There, he worked on projects for some of the biggest international brands, including BNP-Paribas, Mercedes, Lanson Champagne, Place Vendôme, to name just a few. He also participated in the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the company in July 2000 by designing the presentation to investors.
Upon his return to Canada in the summer of 2001, Rowley settled in Montreal and quickly developed a loyal clientele. The most prominent agencies called on him to work for their clients, which included some of the biggest names in business and retail, such as the West Coast grocery group Overwaitea and its subsidiaries Save-On-Foods, Urban Fare, and its house brand, Western Family, for whom he became a lead designer for signage and promotional material. This included joint promotions and advertising with transcontinental brands like Alaska Airlines and the soccer franchise, LA Galaxy. It soon became obvious that it was time for Rowley to start his own business once again, resulting in the birth of his Canadian company Krafix Inc. on September 15, 2003.
During the launch of his new studio, Rowley was approached by the Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development (CCDMD) to work on an innovative educational program. As part of a large team that included experts in cognitive psychology, educators, content developers, and programmers, Rowley led the visual and animation work that put everything together to create interactive online games designed to increase the youth graduation rate. His work on nearly one hundred educational projects was recognized when two of the online games won Quebec’s Education Minister Awards in 2009, allowing the initiative to gain instant recognition in the Canadian educational market. The project and its collateral mandates went on to last almost a decade with the same team on board.
Rowley also added a unique facet to his already extensive talent through graphic design projects related to the movie and video industry for award-winning filmmakers and national institutions like the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), some of which garnered Canadian national awards and international recognition. He designed the movie poster and marketing collateral for Ladies and Gentlemen, an award-winning short film that had a successful run in theatres worldwide and was invited to official competitions in North American and European festivals, including the prestigious FIPA international festival in Biarritz, France. As the opening film of the Montreal World Film Festival in 2005, it won the award for Best Canadian Short Film. He also designed the movie poster for The Cabinet of Doctor Ferron, a feature length documentary that won the Gemini Award for Best Culture Documentary in 2004, a recognition by the Canadian Academy of Cinema & Television, analogous to the Emmy Awards (USA) or the BAFTA Awards (UK). More recently in 2017, he was part of the team that launched Destination a collection of original travel videos commissioned by Air Canada for their onboard entertainment system, presenting unique attractions to discover in cities like Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
During the more than 15 years as president of his own studio, Rowley has worked on thousands of projects, for hundreds of clients, in every conceivable business sector, and for many more renowned brands like a newsletter for Guerlain, a website redesign for David’s Tea, annual reports for HNZ (now PHI International) and Dorel, or advertising campaigns for Roche-Bobois. He is also currently the brand chief and lead designer in charge of all visual communications for major players in their fields like Audiokinetic, a Sony Interactive Entertainment subsidiary and the world’s premier provider of audio solutions to the gaming industry, and XMedius, the global leader in secure file transfer and unified communications, serving many prominent US government agencies and international enterprises.
One client has a very special place in Rowley’s career: Kéroul. This non-profit organization that promotes accessible tourism and culture, immediately spoke to his creative soul. Since day one, Rowley knew that this collaboration would prove to be a profound, extraordinary journey and a long-term commitment. Working together since 2002, the experience has offered Karl the opportunity to participate, through unique graphic design challenges, in the development of a very special program promoting tourism to the disabled: The Accessible Road (now Quebec For All). This initiative is at the heart of Kéroul’s mission and was later rewarded by the United Nations World Tourism Organization at a gala in Vilamoura, Portugal, in June of 2011. This proved to be a major turning point in Rowley’s career and for Kéroul as well. Rowley still works closely with Kéroul on many exciting projects, including the overhauled version of this award-winning platform, and to this day, he is their lead graphic designer and brand officer.
In addition to his regular clientele, Rowley is also developing a unique project of his own. After visiting Palm Springs, California, ground zero for Mid-century modern architecture and design, he fell in love with the joyfulness and modernity of this timeless era. He subsequently decided that as a senior graphic designer, he could offer his own take on this classic style by creating his own patterns and designs, all applied to various blank modern products. These exclusive design collections are offered solely through the Mid Century Style Shop brand at the MidCentury.Style online store. Still in its infancy, this project is set to expand into a major endeavor in the years to come with Rowley’s original graphic designs at the forefront.