Portrait: Arcana Academy

A Victorian-inspired startup aims to demystify advertising for clients like Sealy


Who Foreground: Shane Hutton (l.) and Lee Walters, headmasters. Background (l. to r.): Lorene Grinberg, conficiens administra; Agustin Sanchez, conceptual development; Jessica Darke, agency liaison; Jackson Morton, editor; Elizabeth Miller, agency liaison; Alex Esseveld, conceptual development

What Advertising, branding, marketing agency

Where Arcana offices, Los Angeles

Arcana Academy’s founders were heavily inspired by the Victorian era, even if their first work, for Sealy, is anything but: In the ad, a buttocks-shaped mattress tester bounces up and down faster and faster on a bed while a French woman’s voice coos about the product. Fellow Leo Burnett creatives Shane Hutton and Lee Walters, in addition to the Victorian branding, also wanted to create the sense of a select club by creating an academic vibe; hence the quirky titles and schoolgirl uniforms female staffers wore (at their request, according to the founders) for this shoot. As for the agency’s name, Hutton said, “We’re a school of mysteries and demystifying the process.”