Kirk Kelley

Partner, Chief Creative Officer & Director

Kirk’s a big-gun Director, and not just because he’s a Texan. A multi-talented designer, storyteller and restaurateur, he has directed and supervised many of our premier ad campaigns since 1995. He is the creative leader behind our fleet of M&M’S, Boom Beach and Chipotle content and brings his visually and technically innovative talent to collaborations with agencies including Barton F. Graf, TBWA\Chiat\Day’s Media Arts Lab, Amalgamated and BBDO Worldwide. 

Kirk has solid mastery over all storytelling mediums plus a wry sense of humor and a strong point of view. His sense of composition is fine-tuned and his timing’s right on the money. When he can, after sundown, he likes to sneak out back and work on short films including his stop-motion/CG piece, Dia de los Muertos. His latest – a Romanian ballad Până când nu te iubeam (Before I Fell in Love with You) – is inspired by Portland’s own world-renowned Pink Martini.  The short recently earned honors at numerous festivals around the world including Amsterdam Film Festival, Berlin Short Film Festival, Best Short Fest – Ontario, Silveron International Film Festival, Austin Short Film Fest, Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival, London International Short Film Festival and the prestigious Mill Valley Film Festival.

One of HouseSpecial’s three founding partners, Kirk holds advanced degrees in visualization sciences and architectural design and an undergraduate degree in engineering. Early in his career, Kirk taught photography at Texas A&M University. He is the co-owner of Podnah’s Pit, a Texas-style barbecue restaurant in Portland, and La Taq, a Tex Mex bar next to Podnah’s. He also is a dad - probably his greatest accomplishment yet.


Mark Gustafson


Mark Gustafson will make you laugh. His perfectly timed, sardonic humor is irresistible and it’s also his juju for creating characters that resonate. His impressive bag of visual tricks was hard earned through directing 20 years of commercial, episodic and feature content for small and big screens. 

At HouseSpecial, he continues to helm the beloved Planters Mr. Peanut campaign and direct spots for clients such as Sony, Coca-Cola, ESPN and Häagen-Dazs, adding his irreverent je ne sais quoi to the content director roster.  Mark also has an impressive, growing stash of hardware – a Cannes Bronze Lion, three Prime-time Emmy Awards plus a mishmash of Annie Awards, Tellys and Annecy honors. 

On the film side, Mark broke into features as Animation Director on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and helmed the extended animation sequence for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. He currently has several projects in development, including Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.


Aaron Sorenson


One of the best things about Aaron is his calm exterior that hides a design/animation madman who quietly runs wild between all styles and mediums. He is a master at character design and translating design into motion. 

Aaron’s latest animated short, Jailbreak, screened in various festival around the world. The film is a German Expressionist-inspired design mash-up of stop motion with a 2D design sensibility … and a decidedly adult twist.

His work also includes a collaboration with They Might Be Giants’ to create the music video The Bastard Wants to Hit Me. Aaron has directed work for Nike®, Starbucks®, Shaw Cable, Honey Nut Cheerios®, Target®, Orville Redenbacher® and Dole® and has garnered big honors at many environmental and animation festivals for his work on The Surfrider Foundation’s PSA Rise Above Plastics and for his animation direction on credit sequences for the features ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls.

John Robson


For nearly two decades, SoCal native John Robson has been generating award-winning content for the television, film, and video game industries. As a classically-trained-filmmaker-turned-post-production wizard, John finds creative ways to blend together his love of cinema, design, experimental animation and visual fx seamlessly into inspirational visual narratives.

Over the span of his career, John’s work has been showcased on Vice’s Creator’s Project, TED Talks, Motionographer and CG Society. He’s received several awards in the process, including 5 Promax/ BDA Golds, 3 MTV VMA’s, 3 Webby Awards and an Emmy nomination while directing work for clients such as Nike, Xbox and FX Networks. 

John’s latest animated short, Quality Time, is a dark yet humorous satire on smartphone addiction and its effects on society. It quickly became a crowd favorite, earning a prestigious Vimeo Staff Pick within 24 hours of its release.

He also tries to find the perfect life balance between family, travel, personal projects and single origin coffees.