Stuart Thursby

About Me

Great creative work combines the spark of an idea with fundamental DNA that can evolve over time. Creative matters a great deal (and it's the part I love the most), but I don't believe that you can properly evaluate the work unless the whole team has a solid grasp on the customer, the business, the challenge, the opportunity, and the wider context.

This is why I've charted a career path that mixed together large agency and small agency; digital and mass; branding and web; tech and traditional.

Digital is the main trunk of my tree of knowledge and experience, but I've added to this with branches in Branding, Traditional Advertising, UX and Product, CRM and Direct, Creative Strategy, Tech and Production, Management, and since 2018, All Things Agency Ownership And Leadership.

My career started with an internship at Ryan Edwards before I joined Proximity Canada as an Art Director at the height of its success in 2010. Stints both full-time and freelance followed at AJ&Smart (Berlin), BBDO, Cossette, DARE, DDB, Edelman, FCB/SIX, Idea Rebel, T4G, Teehan+Lax, and Trajectory at various levels from Art Director to Associate Design Director, and in 2018, I took this experience and started my own agency, Stack Creative.

The last 4+ years have been an exhilarating journey with Stack. I’m proud of the work we made, I’ve built and nurtured a dynamic team that I cherish, I hold our roster of clients dear, and I learned countless things along the way. But as fulfilling and successful a ride as it’s been, owning and operating Stack as a solo founder has validated to me that what I love most about this business isn’t about holding all the legos or wearing all the hats.

Going forward, I’m looking to partner with other leaders and makers as part of a bigger team, so I can in turn make a more meaningful and focused impact through what I’m best at and love the most: creating the best work possible, while growing and empowering the team.

Whether you’re looking for creative direction, freelance art direction or design, someone to partner up with on an adventure, or simply to catch up over coffee or a pint — shoot me an email. I’d love to connect with friends and co-conspirators both old and new.



Art Directors Club
Applied Arts
Marketing Awards
One Show


Applied Arts
Marketing Awards
New York Festivals


Digital Design
Humber College, 2016

UX Design

Red Academy, 2017

How I Got To Today

What I Can Do

The Things I Can Bring To The Table

Creative Direction

I have a breadth and depth of experience in leading multidisciplinary and creative teams across pretty much every agency scale—including founding my own.

To my mind, a great CD isn't just about pushing the work, hiring and nurturing the team, or aiming for awards every time out. A great CD needs to have a firm grasp on the underlying business challenges and opportunities, as well as a tight partnership with strategy, production, and accounts.

Like with anything creative, context is king, and if the work is just about the work, then you run the risk of missing the forest of opportunity for the trees of easy wins (forgive the absolutely tortured metaphor).

Agency Leadership

After 4+ years of starting, running, and growing my own digital shop, I've gone through an exhilarating bootcamp of learning experiences.

From pricing and pitching (thank you Blair Enns), to agency positioning and the consultative process (thank you David C Baker), to how to build and nurture client and multi-disciplinary, cross-functional team relationships (thank you Karl Sakas, Drew McLellan, and Carl Smith and the Bureau) to several courses in law and finance, and a gauntlet of real-world experience, there's not much I didn't learn in my time running my shop.

All with some of the best people I've worked with before, on some of the most fulfilling work of our careers.

Art Direction

I've spent 12+ years spent art directing the hell out of everything from favicons to websites to brand identities to CRM to 360º advertising campaigns—with a particular focus on digital and web.


Ideas are only as good as the craft with which they're executed, and I've purposefully blended the thinking and the tactics of UX, UI, and Graphic Design throughout my career.


Oh, The Places I've Worked

2022 — Present
Freelance Creative Director / Senior Art Director / Anyting-That-Needs-Making-Er / Etc

Whether you’re looking for FT or freelance Creative Direction, freelance Art Direction or Design, someone to partner up with on a new adventure, or simply to catch up over coffee or a pint — email me. I’d love to connect with friends and co-conspirators both old and new.

Key Agencies
Confidential for now

Key Clients
Confidential for now – but heaps of fun in cannabis, financial services, and more

Key Project Types
Advertising, CRM, Social, Websites

2018 — 2022
Founder + Creative Director

Stack Creative

Stack Creative is the digital creative agency I founded. We primarily built websites, brand identities, and campaigns for growing companies on the rise.

Key Clients
Algoma University, Canadian Women & Sport, Digital Research Alliance of Canada, Float, Focus Asset Management, Friends of Ruby, HealthPartners, ICLS, IC Savings, Jane Goodall Institute, Mars-Wrigley, Mother Raw, Parallax, Save the Children, Tafelmusik, The Moment, The Rounds, World Vision

Key Project Types
Website Design, Development, Strategy, Content
Brand Identities, Messaging, Strategy
Digital Advertising Campaigns, Landing Pages

Key Lesson Learned
Pretty much everything that goes into founding and growing a boutique shop.

2017 — 2018
Senior Art Director + ACD (Freelance)

BBDO / DDB / Idea Rebel

Freelance art direction and design, primarily in the CRM, digital and experiential worlds.

Key Clients
Keurig, Kraft, McDonald's, Mercedes-Benz, Rogers, Samsung

Key Projects
CRM Creative, Templates
Digital Advertising Campaigns and Landing Pages
2018 Auto Show Creative (Experiential and Social)

Key Lesson Learned
A great team, that truly bonds while pushing each other, is more valuable than pretty much anything else in this business.

2016 — 2017
Associate Design Director


A design-and-UX focused part of the creative management team at the hottest data-led creative agency around.

Key Clients
Azamara Club Cruises, CIBC, Government of Canada (National Student Loans), Government of Alberta (Student Loans), Made in Space, Primus

Key Projects
Redesign of the National Student Loan Service Centre
CRM Programs and Emails for CIBC, Azamara
Direct Mail and CRM for Primus

Key Lesson Learned
This was my first step up into middle management within a creative department, working with some of the most talented people I've worked with. Every day was a lesson in something new—most prominently, the need for speed and accuracy.

2015 — 2016
Art Director


Blended role of senior-level Art Direction, Graphic Design, and UX Design with the in-house agency as part of the national tech consultancy (now part of MNP).

Key Clients
Astley-Gilbert, Enterprise Retail Client, Loblaws (PC Plus), FRHI Hotels & Resorts (Fairmont et al), Mattamy Homes, Saputo, Tourism New Brunswick, Travel Yukon

Key Projects
Enterprise UX and Graphic Design for an impactful internal tool.
Redesign of websites for Saputo, Mattamy Homes, Astley-Gilbert, Travel Yukon Trade, PC Plus (Loblaws)
Campaign support for Tourism New Brunswick

Key Lesson Learned
A good art director needs to be fluent in UX principles, thinking, and flows. It is a distinct discipline, separate from art direction and graphics, but there's no excuses in today's age to not know how to fully think through flows, states, and responsiveness.

2013 – 2014
Art Director (Freelance)

AJ&Smart / DARE / Edelman / Ryan Edwards / Teehan+Lax / Trajectory

Freelance art direction and design on pretty much every type of project you can imagine, in both Toronto and Berlin.

Key Clients
Art Canada Institute, Bioré, Chang School of Continuing Education (Ryerson), Fringe Festival, Georgian College, Great West Life, Letsfeedback, Monoqi, Ontario Real Estate Association, Powerade, Rheingau Founders, Scotiabank, Schutzklick, Shipwire, Story Planet

Key Projects
Branding and website work for Letsfeedback
UI/UX work for a robust resource centre for Shipwire
Space tourism posters for Story Planet
Course catalogue production design for Chang School

Key Lesson Learned
Breadth is fun as hell—and that there's different flavours of magic when working within smaller shops (2 people), mid-sized shops (15-50 people), and larger shops (150+).

Art Director

Proximity Canada

Joined Canada's Digital Agency of the Year at the height of its success within the BBDO and Omnicom networks.

Key Clients
Bayer, BlackBerry, Campbell Soup Company, Canadian Olympic Committee, Gillette, HP, Ontario Ministry of Health, Partnership for a Drug Free Canada, RBC, Rogers, SiriusXM, Soulpepper Theatre, Starbucks, Swiss Chalet, Ve'ahavta, Whiskas

Key Projects
360º Campaign and So Much Digital for the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Website design for Campbell's Canada, Cook with Campbell's, SiriusXM.
:60 Video for Ve'ahavta on how children don't dream of ending up on the streets when they grow up.
Out-Of-Home and Print for Partnership for a Drug Free Canada.
Direct mail with a crazy-good response rate for Starbucks.
An extensive CRM and landing page combo project for BlackBerry.
A long-scrolling (2+ minute), exquisitely typeset banner ad lampooning how long Legal goes on for for Bayer Gummy Multi-Vitamins.

Key Lesson Learned
Working in agencies is !@#$'ing awesome. Some of my best friends, best bosses, best colleagues, and best memories are from this shop, and the lessons learned here were a springboard for everything else.

Community Manager & Online Editor

Applied Arts

Canada's cherished industry publication that covers the advertising, design, illustration, and photography business in the country. Thank you for bringing me on board, Georges.

Let's make magic.

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