Q&A: IM Creative Team for HighBall

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Columbus’ premier Halloween couture event started as a grassroots effort, but after explosive attendance growth and national media buzz, organizers of HighBall have upped the ante on this year’s soiree. Enter IM Creative cofounders, Shannon Morrison and Scott Ihrig. The New York City transplants have worked with corporations like L’Oreal, Armani and Ralph Lauren, and plan to take this year’s HighBall to the next level.

We wanted to giveHighBall a specific focus and hone the message.When IM Creative’s team first started learning the landscape, we asked, “What is HighBall?” We got a ton of different responses. To some people it was a fashion event, to others it was a costume party, to some it was a street fair, which told us we needed to choose a direction and focus on what is unique and singular about this event. HighBall has many layers, and we had to navigate them all to create a cohesive idea of what HighBall is and should be. At its essence, HighBall is the fiercest Halloween party, and we plan to prove just that. SM

This year we are featuring two nights, with two completely separate themes. We wanted to keep some of the classic elements and add some new twists for partygoers. We are holding 15 events over two days this year, and each night is a completely different event. Friday night is “HighBall: On The Rocks,” and the night’s theme is “The Big ’80s,” We are having local and national artists perform covers of great ’80s hits, as well as their original music. The Wet Darlings, MojoFlo, The Fabulous Johnson Brothers and Lydia Loveless will all be decked out and performing in their ’80s gear. Legendary ’80s pop star Taylor Dayne will close the show, and she said she’s bringing a bunch of her videos with her. You don’t get more quintessential ’80s than that! Saturday is the couture night at HighBall we’ve all come to know. This year we are holding a costumed 5K, HighBall’s “Runway Run” that begins and ends at the event. After that, is, of course, the Costume Couture Fashion Show, followed by the public costume contest. SI

HighBall is a different beast than any other event we’ve done. The corporations we’ve worked with in the past have taken us all over the world, so it’s a welcome change to do an event in our backyard. There is a sense of ownership attached to an event like HighBall that makes it both more challenging and more satisfying. We’re the new guys, and we’ve been entrusted with taking on this beloved event. We want to make sure we honor where the event started, and support the crown-jewel event of the Short North. SI

The stakes are different when putting on an event likeHighBall. The biggest challenge … isn’t the planning, it’s the stakes. HighBall is a fundraiser for the Short North Alliance, which helps support jobs and organizations that keep the Short North an artistic destination in Columbus. Livelihoods could be on the line with this event, so that adds a new level of motivation for us. Also, for our corporate events we have a handful of clients we need to please; with HighBall, we have 25,000 clients and none of them are obligated to show up. SI

I hope the first thing people say on Sunday morning is, “I need a Bloody Mary and some aspirin.” And we hope the next thing they say is, “That was the best HighBall yet, and I can’t wait to see what they do next year.” All the changes we’ve made are just the tip of the iceberg. We are determined to make HighBall a national event because it’s important for the city. The way to keep people interested and invested in your city is by doing fun things — that is what we plan on doing. SM

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Shannon Morrison

Age: 36

Hometown: West Gardiner, Maine

Current neighborhood: Short North

Day Job: Chief creative officer at IM Creative

Currently listening to: Hozier, Maiya Sykes

Playing Favorites:

Favorite movie: "Girls Will Be Girls," X-Men movies

Favorite TV show: "The Walking Dead," "House of Cards"

Favorite restaurant: The Rossi

Favorite cocktail: Mouton's Tom Collins

Best way to spend $10: "A flick at Gateway Film Center."

Best Halloween costume: "A nun … I was in the fourth grade."

Favorite thing about Columbus: "College men running shirtless."

Age: 42

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

Current neighborhood: Short North

Day Job: CEO & executive producer at IM Creative

Currently listening to: "'80s everything."

Playing Favorites:

Favorite movie: "Searching for Bobby Fisher"

Favorite TV Show: "Survivor," "Game of Thrones"

Favorite restaurant: Basi Italia

Favorite cocktail: Watershed Gin anything

Best way to spend $10: "Two nights of HighBall!"

Favorite thing about Columbus: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams