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 innovativetalent 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 new 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 ofcommercial, 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 andHäagen-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, recently premiered on STASH Magazine and is screening 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.