Sing sing sing along sing sing along…
Are Southerners More Brand Conscious or Loyal? November 18, 2008
Last night I was doing my usual routine of watching “Nightline” – their second or third (I forget which) story was about how, no matter where we turn these days – we are bombarded by advertising. And then the story honed in on product placement in entertainment, specifically movies. Examples included E.T. with Reeses Pieces, Cast Away and FedEx, iRobot with Converse All Star sneakers and FedEx in the first 5 minutes — then the narrator pointed to several examples in the new James Bond film, “Quantum of Solace.”
This was all fairly old news to me — then my ears perked up. One of the talking heads had a sound bite — something regarding “. . . you don’t ask for a soda, you ask for a Coke or Pepsi.”
Actually, I think that should be edited. In the South, every soft drink is a Coke. This is one of those Southern things. We don’t call soda “Pop” — all soda is “Coke.” It’s like an unwritten rule. Always has been for me. For example, I’ve had the following conversation more times than I can count:
Waitress: “What would you like to drink”
Waitress “how about Pepsi”
Me: “same thing. . .”
So, this poses a question — are we Southerners more brand conscious?
Growing up, in my home, we used Folgers coffee, AIM toothpaste, Joy dishwashing liquid, Pledge furniture polish. My mother has bought these items as long as I can remember. Those brands are still there when I go home. Also, fried chicken requires Wesson oil. And no other brand of English peas enter my parent’s house other than LeSeur.
I have many friends that are originally from Louisiana & their love of Community Coffee is astounding to me. You’d think the stuff was liquid crack.
There are even events that pay homage to our favorite Southern things, like the “RC and Moon Pie Festival” — I forget where it is, but I don’t like either of those things, so I didn’t make a mental note as to it’s yearly location.
I think we’ve all known someone that’s die hard when it comes to automobile brand loyalty — how many large pickup trucks have we all been behind, where the driver shows his/her preference for model by adhering the sticker of Calvin peeing on the competition’s logo?
In politics, there is that old saying “So goes the South, so goes the country” — so I just wonder, do marketing people have this mantra in mind?
Truth: I just finished my 13th hour of design for the day. You have got to love this gig to do it. Fortunately, I love it. The time has flown… I feel like I just sat down 3 hours ago and am amazed at what I’ve managed to accomplish. I love days like today. I live for them, when everything just clicks!
The newsletter I’ve worked on all day is almost done. Tomorrow, I resume the next project – a companion piece to a holiday event here in town. I’ve already put in about 3 days of work on that project. Mainly, the time has been spent on organization and other housekeeping items. Making a list and checking it twice types of things. T’is the season. I’ll post more about that project in the future. I experienced a bit of design block over the weekend when I was trying to come up with something. I cured that by getting out and socializing on Saturday & Sunday – which has been few and far between in my life in the past few months. That seems to always do the trick – get away from the computer and let the mind play. While out I got to hang with a lot of friends that happen to be in the design and photography field. There’s no escape! (ha!)
In other news, I have a meeting tomorrow that I think will be interesting. The meeting is in the morning & I’m so NOT a morning person either. The meeting involves coffee, so there’s hope that I’ll have some comprehension when the caffeine kicks in. The cool thing is, I’ll be on the other side of the table from which I am accustomed. I kind of dig that, a full circle kind of moment.
The Truth About Graphic Design November 17, 2008
I’m always amused at how people find my blog. I normally get a lot of “Michael Jackson + Bubbles” or “Jeff Koons + Prince + toy poodle + latex.”
“Tonight, I saw a search for “Truth About Graphic Design Industry” in the search list.
You want the truth?
I’ll give you the truth.
THE BAD NEWS
(A) You won’t get rich. If you’re entering this profession thinking you’re going to be printing money, I suggest you seek other avenues of employment. There are months that I do well. Others, I could probably do better asking “do you want fries with that?” or working at the Gap.
(B) If you’re thinking “oh, I’ll get to meet famous people…” — ok, in Nashville, on occasion it could happen. I’ve met, I think, 3 people of note through my job — the coolest being this lady — a friend of a client. She was ultra amazing and a total English lady in every sense of the word. Oh, and she’s still beautiful. I have photos with her and she even indulged me with an autographed press photo for my brother, a huge James Bond fan. We had nice conversations while chain-smoking cigarettes as she regaled me with stories of her time in the movies, her rounds in Hollywood and her work on “Goldfinger.”
(C) “…oh, maybe I’ll get famous, like Michael Beirut, David Carson or Stefan Sagmeister…” — don’t count on it. Chip Kidd said it best: “famous designer is like famous electrician”
(D) If you’re going into this field and you have an ego — you better lose it quick. Sooner or later (sooner, rather than later) you will have to sell out. Get used to selling out. Once, a friend of mine asked me “do you love everything that you design?” — I laughed and said “No! But the checks cash the same.” With that said, always do your best and give your all. But, note, there will be limitations — like images you have to pull from the internet or someone’s low resolution vacation photo they want to incorporate into the project. In these cases, refer to the famous words of one Mr. Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”) and “…make it WORK!”
(E) Get used to wearing a lot of hats — especially if you’re a freelancer. I’ve done the freelance thing for almost 5 years. I am the receptionist, the cleaning lady, the accountant, bills payable & receivable, customer service, order fulfillment, production artist, creative director, liaison (between printer and designer), typesetter, photo retoucher, editor and copywriter, just to name a few.
(F) To be a great graphic designer, you must learn to handle criticism well. Would I like every project to be my own ideas and a masterpiece? Sure. But there are always the clients that have their own visions. And those visions are unique to the client – and many times the client has a completely different approach that is refreshing. Learn to listen. It’s not about the designer, after all. It’s about a happy client.
(G) The client is always right. Now, mind you if they want your Photoshop files, you should refer to this post — but most of the time, you need to listen to the direction of what the client is requesting artistically.
(H) Above all else, you will be suited to this field if you meet one requirement: sitting in front of a computer and sketch book, drawing, dreaming and creating — and the whole time you’re doing these things, it is NOT WORK. I adore what I do. Do I get insane at times? Absolutely. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have friends who have desk jobs pushing paper — and the grand majority of them hate it with a burning passion.
THE GOOD NEWS
(A) I contain so much excitement and passion for the field I am in. There is magic in my profession. I can’t think of any other gig where you could say to 50 people “give me this product at the end, you have to use photos A, B, and C and it has to meet requirement 1, 2, 3, and 4” — and in the end you could have 50 results that meet the specifications.
(B) This is probably my favorite characteristic about my colleagues: graphic designers are a very sharing and giving community. There have been times I’ve been assigned a type of project that I’d never done before and I’ve had questions as to how to tackle the job. In those cases, I called up another designer or two – I’ve even emailed designers I didn’t really know – to seek advice; the common thread is that everyone has always been happy to help and give me counsel. We’re a tight group — we’ve all been through the war, so to speak.
(C) A fantastic perk of my job is that every day is different. There is no way to get bored. Then there are all the things one can learn — in the past few months I’ve learned about a Creek Indian leader, Pioneers of Cardiac Surgery, and the Planetarium at the Adventure Science Center of Nashville. I am always being presented an opportunity to find out new things. I feel so incredibly blessed to make a living doing something I consider fun and exciting and engaging.
(D) Graphic Designers are some of the most fun people you will ever meet. I love every single, solitary designer friend of mine. And I meet new ones all the time. We’re a well rounded and diverse group. And we usually have really fun parties or at least the invite to one.
(E) You get to write off all your cool technology from the Apple store. The iPhone is worth the blood, sweat and tears, right?
So, if you can take the good with the (sometimes) bad, then I’d say you are suited for a career as a graphic designer.
Good luck… if you’re willing to hang in there through this economy, you’re in for a treat.
Freelance Graphic Designers in a Wonky Economy November 16, 2008
If you’re a freelance graphic designer, or a freelancer in general, do yourself a favor, and read this…
The Native (Files) Are Restless November 11, 2008
I had a dilemma arise this week that I’ve never encountered before.
First, a little background:
I took on the task of a project that seemed simple enough at first – design a packaging for a product. Upon the initial client meeting, I was handed a disc of art files and additional materials instructing me on how the client wanted the product to look. We also agreed upon a flat fee, half of which I received up front.
Last Friday, I began the project as I had awaited one final element to begin the design process. I spent over seven hours on Friday working on the project — this included looking for two types of photographs that can only be described as obscure. That task was only complicated more as the client didn’t have the money to spend on any type of professional photography services, nor did said client have the money to purchase anything from a stock photo site on the web. Basically, I had little or nothing to work with.
I ended up getting severely lucky with one of the elements. The other, he happened to have what he needed in his possession and took his own photographs and sent to me. After acquiring those two photographic elements, I spent six hours cutting the background out from one of the elements – the other photo, I gleaned the piece of the photo I needed which amounted to exhausting that one element of the photo, using Photoshop to enlarge it and adding more to what was previously not there before.
Then, over the weekend I got an email from the client. The email stated that the project was to be at the printer today (Monday). I replied to the email and explained that deadline was virtually impossible as I had only received photographic elements mid-afternoon on Friday and was still knee-deep in the design of the project. He relented and said Tuesday would be a workable deadline.
So, today I sent a second proof via email. The client and another person involved pow-wowed on the proof, sent back edits and I reworked the project to their exact specifications. I went down the list, checking things off.
Tonight, after sending the second proof off, I got an email asking that I send the native Photoshop files to him — that he would like to work with them and that it “must be the designer in him.”
Now, I don’t know about other designers, but this here are my things about this:
I spent years in college honing my art skills and my design capabilities. And I’ve spent 10+ years working professionally as a graphic designer. I have what it takes to get a project to a final conclusion that I am proud of. I have a portfolio full of projects I am proud of and clients I am blessed to have a continued working relationship.
In all those years that I have spent, I have learned many things. Why should I turn over my intellectual property to someone who can just take this and that and reuse it for their own profit?
Also, knowledge is power. I possess a design and computer proficiency that makes my talent valuable. I know how to set up a file for print and I can muddle my way through a certain amount of web design. If everyone knew how to do this, my profession would cease to exist. And if I just hand over my knowledge to every client that asks, aren’t I devaluing my design knowledge and artistic skills and running my own business into the ground?
Also, once I hand over the Photoshop files, it ceases to be MY work.
I consulted the web to see what other people had done in my situation. The results were all over the map. But the general consensus seems to be that a graphic designer is only beholden to give up the final files for printing, NOT the workable native Photoshop files. Those are the designer’s intellectual property.
One person made the comment that the PSD files contain “trade secrets” — I guess I’d have to agree with that. I have a certain way of creating certain looks within my design. I’ll be the first to admit, one way I learned a lot about Photoshop was from looking at other designers Photoshop files. Who is to say that some fly by night person who bought Photoshop won’t do the same? (There’s no way this person will be able to reach the learning curve my PSD files would throw his way… I’m not terribly worried about that, actually…)
I spoke online to a former classmate of mine tonight. She echoed my point of view on another facet of this topic — why aren’t graphic designers taught business courses? My classmate and I, during our college years, were required to take FOUR semesters of foreign language. Now, I’m not putting down the need to be bilingual in any sense, but we both agreed that those four semesters would have been better spent in business classes that specifically dealt with the ethics of graphic design and selling art. And for the record.. all my four years of Spanish taught me was how to order a beer and find a bathroom — which in my opinion, are the two basic things needed to when speaking that language.
In the end, after I calmed down after receiving the email, I emailed a response to my client and explained that the question he broached made me uncomfortable and I found it somewhat unethical to pose such a request. But I also added that as I am a designer that works with my clients, although every bit of me that values my design skills was against it, I would send him the files. BUT any edits that are made to them are subject to an additional fee as this could lead to a disruption of my work flow. I told him I’m sure he would understand me amending my end of the agreement (my fee) as he was amending his (hiring me to do the design work exclusively without outside interference).
I’ve yet to hear back.
What do you think?