[Originally published June 4, 2012.]
My objective is the Truth with a capital T, mentally composed in Bodoni or, on the weekends, Garamond. I believe dishonest design is the scourge of humanity. What do I mean by that? Simply step outside. Fraudulence is everywhere. From the rat-tail curve encircling the “H” of the Hilton logo to the poorly kerned signage at your local bus depot, we live in a visually polluted environment. Graphic designers must keep our hoodies zipped tight along with our values. My aim is total unsparing honesty as it pertains to my craft. I will pull no punches and expect the same from you, should we have the benefit of working together in the future.
Red Octopus (2007-Present)
Here at this mismanaged company, I am the Creative Director for clients including McClure Financial, Take 2 Television, and Señor Pepe’s Frozen Foods, a Foodjoy Brand. For five hair-thinning years I have attempted to infuse iconic graphic artistry in everything from printed brochures to online banner ads. I lead a crew of energetic but woefully trendy young designers who have never learned to set type by hand and never will. My account team is combative and seems to delight in miscommunicating with clients.
While I’m being up front with you, we recently pitched Foodjoy’s Squirtburst Fruit Drinks. The entire packing industry did. You probably did. And you know what? Two months of work turned out to be a creative cattle call initiated by Squirtburst’s CMO to get respect from his peers in solids. Apparently, the liquids side of the office park gets no love from upper management. He simply filched my ideas and brought everything in-house. To which I said to Sylvia, our lead account skirt, “How dare you make your bed with the flesh off my back!” and broke one of the presentation boards over her head. You must remember, those things are made of Styrofoam. I put my eight hours in the HR-mandated class and thought mostly about how I’m not an angry person, just overly passionate. I also considered what I said to Sylvia: two expressions that don’t really make sense together. Blame the heat of the moment. I’ve learned my lesson.
I’d be hard pressed to say a keen sense of Truth drives, has driven, will be driving, or even rides shotgun with anyone at Red Octopus. Management holds many secret meetings without me. The leftover Cosi sandwiches and cookies are a disgusting giveaway. If only I could be in every meeting, I may have been able to make a difference, may have Zambonied the eyeball-defiling layouts and dipshits aside. But I am only one graphic designer, uncompromising but all too human.
In my portfolio, you will see that unproduced package redesign for Squirtburst, inspired by kinetic typography popular in the West Coast concert posters of the 1960’s. In this designer’s opinion, it creates a visual appeal unprecedented in the beverage aisle. The client called it “uninspired” and said it would make kids “vomit if they stared at it for too long.” Next time you’re at the grocery store, please, pick up any Squirtburst drink and compare our taste levels.
Lucid Concepts (2004-2007)
I loved everything about this company, and regret I worked only three short years there. It was run on chaos in the morning, fear in the afternoon, and Ritalin at night, all qualities for producing great design. Lucid is where I produced my most misunderstood piece, the one-hundred-and-twenty-two page deck explaining why Citadel Airlines should change their logo’s main colorway from one shade of red to another.
Ridiculed in trade publications when it leaked on SlideShare, I’ll note here that Citadel not only increased their new passenger base by an impressive margin, but also plane crashes and malfunctions actually decreased from seven per annum to two. Since I am sure you have total Pantone recall like myself, close your eyes and picture this: Pantone 167. Open your eyes and cleanse them by looking at a drab wall. Close again. Now picture Pantone 145. And open. Much less “fiery,” correct? I was behind that. If you can comprehend the world of different feelings evoked by these two superficially similar shades, as Citadel did, then we need to do business.
Bergmann and Partners (1999-2004)
A Swede afflicted with a lisp and gigantism ran this insignificant shop right into the ground. I had thirty-plus responsibilities, a good many of them involving the slaughter of massive amounts of trees. I designed direct mail pieces for the now-defunct CompuNet. If you remember getting these in your mailbox, that was not my fault, and if you can picture the lurid type and laser light effects, you will understand why it isn’t in my portfolio. This is where I learned how not to design.
Kornbluth Institute for the Arts (1994-1998)
Ah, the foundation. What an entrée into my chosen calling! Mac computers had been introduced, but ambitious students such as myself were still photosetting page layouts with Zip-a-Tone, Letrapress, and other toxic chemicals. I took it one step further and gave myself harder and harder words to kern. My professor and I discovered the toughest combination of letterforms: PUSSY WILLOW. It pains me to see it printed on this page, as I’m sure it does you. One truly needs the benefit of working with lead spacers. I used InDesign for this résumé, and as it stands I could drive a truck through the space between the S and the Y, so please look to my student appendix for that perfected catkin and a few of my other typographic marvels.
University of Maryland (1990-1994)
I majored in Business and minored in Psychology, but my memories during this time are hazy. One night, I tried to kill myself by overdosing on Tylenol, and I would have succeeded had it not been for the dining hall’s Corned Beef Hash. I got sick before my liver could fail. I thank this event for my massive levels of stamina. You will never see me by the coffee machine. I prefer to hand-grind my beans as the sun rises, draped in one of my many plush bathrobes acquired in hotels on press checks, with alternating wrist flicks suggesting hope and despair.
All the computer programs known to man, except for Microsoft Word. That is where graphic design goes to lay down and die.