by Catherine Brinkman
When you get Stan Lee to film an introduction for one of your presentations you know you are doing something right. Full stack designer, Anthony Phills is doing a lot right. And yes, Stan Lee did record an introduction for Anthony to use at one of his speaking engagements.
Over the years, Anthony has worked with various tech giants. He created the computer ruler, which he patented and collected royalties from Adobe in exchange for them using the technology. He worked with Siemens to streamline their supply chain management processes. And you may have seen his work in airports, as he creates signs that guide travelers from gate to curbside.
Anthony is now being hailed as the author of a black James Bond trilogy. On the Edge of Knight is a multimedia experience that includes three books chronicling Agent Tony Knight and his adventures through the United States and South America. The On the Edge of Knight books coordinate with a podcast, blog and Twitter account. There is also a radio station that plays themed music for specific chapters in the book. The book is a true media experience, not just a book.
Anthony was born in Trinidad and moved to Montreal, Canada when he was 5. He was surrounded by creativity and technology. “I grew up around punch cards. The first computer I bought was an Apple Plus,” he tells me. He bought this computer soon after joining the Design Management Institution (DMI) in 1993. DMI connects design to business, culture and customers from around the globe. Anthony attended Dawson College, majoring in Graphic Design and Cinematography. He has worked as Creative Director for very well known advertising campaigns for Playtex, Hilton and Costco.
Anthony left Montreal to live in Italy and then Germany, before heading to Seattle. Around 2000 Anthony decided to make Los Angeles home. It was from 2002-2008 that Phills helped to create Barry Bond’s brand. “Barry was not part of the MLB player’s association which handles marketing. It was a team of 4 that built Barry’s brand from the website, all the way up to sending your phone SMS messages when he would hit a homerun.” And then of course there was the merchandise. When asked how he got the Bond’s gig, Anthony was quick to say, “I grew up with his wife.”
“I remember being at AT & T park, walking into the stadium seeing everyone wearing a shirt that I designed.” A feeling of awe and pride came over Anthony. Unfortunately, the labors of his hard work were overshadowed by Bond’s steroid use. “I was known as Barry’s guy,” he said. This wasn’t a good thing so he quickly moved onto his next project.
Anthony and a colleague created a software platform for mobile devices, Bling Software. In 2006 AT & T signed a contract with Apple for the iPhone and overnight Bling Software was out of business. There were other deals that didn’t work out. The majority of Anthony’s business is remote, so it may be a year or more before a client actually sees his face. “I’ve walked into a room with 20 white people and they look at me like ‘Who’s that?’ Then they find out that I am the guy they have been working with the last year. The common response is ‘You don’t sound black.’“ he tells me. As a result of his skin color, some clients actually tried to renegotiate the fee structure. But still Anthony pushes forward, rarely looking back. “I don’t hold on to stuff. I have too many ideas.”
“I learned to be in the moment. It’s hard. Being in the moment and boring.” But boring paid off. He and Jeff Bernstein, also from the Bond’s team, were contracted by Disney to work on the Million Dollar Arm film. Anthony developed the real logos for the actual event and was contracted by Disney to replicate them for the film.
Anthony also wrote his first book Designing for the Homerun King all about creating a brand for Bonds. If there is one thing that Anthony is, it is flexible. The book hasn’t sold very well. “I should have renamed it with a title about sports and marketing,” it’s clear from his tone that sales haven’t met his expectations. He has learned from the title fiasco and learned to think towards a wider market for his writing.
This takes us to the black James Bond, Agent Tony Knight. “It’s dark. There is some deep state in there,” he told me. The book was written prior to the current political climate, but the parallels are clear. The concept of an experiential book is being taken to the next level by Phills. He is focused on making the concept a success. Because Phills is so versatile within his skill set, he is going to be launching daily blog posts keeping Agent Knight’s story ongoing.
“Athletes practice everyday. Everyday I am creating something. I have to keep practicing. Designers need to jump disciplines. If we cannot visually show it, we need to be able to say it with words.” It is immediately obvious when you visit the On the Edge of Knight website that Phills has a gift with words as well as images and works efficiently. “It’s about taking the time to get what you want.” His personal hashtag #dosomething reflects this outlook on life.
Anthony is currently working on a software project to help clinics and therapists working with autistic patients manage records more effectively. He is also engaging audiences speaking on the importance of design in business.
To learn more about Anthony Phills follow him on Twitter @anthonyphills or visit www.anthonyphills.com or follow Agent Knight @knight_triology.
About the writer: Catherine Brinkman has a sales career spanning 2 decades. She has won numerous awards including Rookie of the Year and Silver Sales Associate for Dale Carnegie, a global training company. In early 2016, Catherine started her own consulting business, partnering with sales and marketing teams to increase revenue. She works with everyone from Silicon Valley giants to small startups. She has a fun, comic approach to her consulting, having studied satirical writing at The Second City. She can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @catbrinkman