Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And Another Thing...

This weekly article will be an opportunity for me to vent about something:

"Tyrants have not yet discovered any chains that can fetter the mind."Charles Caleb Colton

I've heard it said that art and commerce will never make good bedfellows-the corporate homogenization of what is a cerebral, spiritual and sometimes visceral occupation always seeming incongruous amongst the pie chart machinations of the boardroom.
One might think then that the world of advertising-or graphic design, might at least be a fitting
agent for a modicum of creativity within that geography.
I realise my age may be showing here, but when I began my tenure as a designer, some twenty odd umpteen years ago, the artists studio, consisted of hefty art boards, slide rulers, rotring pens,scalpels and paste up.In some quarters, hot metal type was still in use, and anything you speculated was composed with good old fashioned magic markers and balls out talent.
At this point, I'm want not to come on like a granddad at the disco here, but I saw my first computer in a studio in '88. After that, everything began to change, and if you were not prepared to pull with the punches, and get with the 'program', then you were a redundant Luddite-a dinosaur relic of an age when being in advertising had something of a elite romantic sophistication to it*
Nowadays of course, everyone is a designer-
Kids working at Blockbuster can knock off a a little bit of Flash with some nifty clip art and Photoshop knowledge, and can invigorate a Myspace page to award status.
Whilst online, companies like Crowdspring, demean the process further, by providing a catalyst between client and artist, where you provide several designs along with a million others, in the hopes of winning a lottery of a miserable $200.

Is it any wonder then, in such a milieu, that there are so many maggots on the periphery, ready to exploit the process, and treat artists as expendable commodity. Of course, the industry has never been short of bastards-the same could be said of any corporate setting, where a stabbed back comes as regular and as iced as your morning mocca latte. And yet, personal experience with this-and believe me when I tell you that there are tales I could relate of the most evil 'low ball' personal affrontary-all leads me to believe that with the advent of things like Craigslist, the continuing recession, the ubiquity of designers, and the death knell of the unions in the 90's, the rabid dog is off the leash and there is nobody to watch it.
Creativity nowadays is perceived as nothing more than pixels on a screen, terminology replacing what was once a highly regarded position diminished to the moniker 'Mac Monkey'.

It is an age when true draftsmanship no longer carries any currency-where lofty titles such as 'developer' hold the lions share in terms of pay scale, for what amounts to typing code into a Joomla template.

And whilst I have no aspiration to adopt a working knowledge of CSS this or PHP that, I could if I wished, the difference therein being then, whether said developer could ever hope to do the same if asked to do what I can.

I'll leave you with a memory I have of a designer I worked with a few years ago-an old school artist of some advancing years from the halcyon days, who came aboard to work up some marker visuals for a formidable campaign for laminate flooring.
After several days of work, he produced what were the slickest hand rendered ,clever ads I have ever seen, securing the client against agencies who had used the usual computer generated trickery.

The story doesn't end there-my friend, upon handing his invoice to the director was greeted by apoplectic consternation-"You want how much for three days work?" was his retort.

To which my friend paused momentarily with a sort of here we go again look upon his face and replied...

"Three days work boss, but a life times experience."

*For further exposition see an episode of Mad Men.

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