Compadre ECD Curtis Doss on the Beauty and Absurdity of Sports
Curtis Doss is an Emmy-winning creative director with more than 20 years of experience solving visual communication problems across platforms. He has led teams and contributed to many notable sports projects, including rebrands for the NFL, NBA and MLB on ESPN. He is currently executive creative director of Compadre, a creative marketing agency.
A love of photography and passion for aesthetics led Curtis to branding and design within the culture-rich surf, skate and snow markets. This included designing many different items—clothing, shoes, skateboards and snowboards—as an art director for Planet Earth Skateboards and DC Shoes. In 2003, he helped start DC Films, a division of DC Shoes to create marketing content for the DC brand.
After that, Curtis made the leap into the motion graphics industry, where he worked with various studios to design and concept for documentary films and entertainment brands and properties.
We spoke to Curtis for our Time-Out series, where we chat with folks in the sports world about their favorite athletes, teams, sports movies and shows, and their love of sports generally.
Curtis, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I spent my middle school and high school years in Cypress, California. Spent my twenties in North County (San Diego), my thirties in Los Angeles, and now I currently reside in Orange, California.
Your earliest sports memory.
Little League Baseball. I'm maybe 11, on third base and I represent the tying run. I get caught sleeping on the job. Daydreaming on third base. Could have scored and I blew it. I remember everyone was really disappointed, but they didn't really let it show. Had to dig deep for that one.
Your favorite sports teams.
I've always been a huge fan of the L.A. Dodgers because I grew up playing baseball. Also, I consider them iconic to Los Angeles and one of the top four legacy baseball teams. I also enjoy the Rams, Lakers and LAFC because of the infectious energy L.A. sports fans bring to games.
Your favorite athlete.
Currently, Chris Taylor (L.A. Dodgers). I am completely in awe of his ability to deliver all over the files as an everyday player. Even more so at his ability to come through in a seriously clutch situation.
Your favorite sports show or podcast.
Red flag question here!!! I really don't seek out sports shows or podcasts per se. I will listen during the baseball offseason and close to the playoffs. Even then, I'm hoping to glean a bit of info on the overall strategy of my team. But I really haven't found a singular voice that I find myself returning to.
Your favorite sports movie.
I have two favorites, Goon and Dodgeball. I'm usually more drawn to the absurd representations of the game. Sure, I'm a sucker for the underdog. The overcoming adversity story. The student becoming the teacher. But the absurd is what usually sticks with me for some reason.
A recent project you're proud of.
So many that come to mind! There is one project that we've been working on with Netflix for more than a year that will launch soon. While it has nothing to do with sports on the surface, the process has had all the hallmarks of a typical sports game—swinging away despite being under pressure, plays we couldn't believe we pulled off, as well as a few curveballs. All in all, the project has been really exciting, and I can't wait for it to be out in the world.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
One that comes to mind is the ESPN and NHL "Beneath the Ice" brand identity by Paul Mitchell and Tim O'Shaughnessy. What speaks to me the most is how visceral and expressive it is. The ID feels more like a narrative exploration rather than just a mechanical solve for a promo package. I feel as though the depth this project reached gives more longevity for the brand by providing foundational cues that future promo packages will be able to build upon.
What sports can do that nothing else can.
Sports teaches us all to trust the process. Show up read. You better be mentally, physically and spiritually ready for a showdown. And you better be ready to throw it all out the window. If you lose, have the gumption to get back into the game tomorrow and try again. Sports helps us know that the destination is actually the journey.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the sports world.
I would want to continue my role in creative direction and design but specifically focus on main title work because I just love the open canvas and opportunity to craft visual poetry that this type of work provides.