Work Rant #1

I about lost my mind yesterday. I was so incredibly and deeply pissed by an email asking for changes on short notice that I pounded out an email expressing what was on my mind. Of course I didn't send it. Because ever increasing self regard is beginning to overshadow my people-pleasing nature, I did pick up the phone and call to deliver the reasonable non-emotional aspects behind my rant in an effort to honor my own needs while keeping the momentum rolling on the project. Anyway, I'll spare you the details that prompted the following rant. If you want them, email me. Here we go...

"I'm just going to be honest and admit that these changes dishearten me. What you've asked for fundamentally changes the design and will take longer than you might think if this piece is to be well-designed. If, on the other hand you don't care about the design being an appropriate representation of your brand, then it will take less time. In either case, I find myself less-than-thrilled with this situation. I try to have my heart in a good place. I just can't this time. On a practical level I lack the time to move things around just to satisfy some administrator's need to be an art director. On an integrity level, I'm a professional that would rather not produce schlock. It's bad enough that I'm seen as 'the graphics person' rather than a Certified Brand Strategist with a B.F.A. in visual communications and 20+ years of experience and successful outcomes, 13 of those as the owner and leader of a marketing communications firm. But to just become the desktop publishing jockey to a group of people making mostly subjective decisions is, well, I'll just say it: it's beneath me. I will ask, as I always do of my clients, will these changes make more sales or get you closer to whatever goal you are trying to achieve? Or are you just frustrated that you can't do the sexy work that all the cool kids do in graphic design firms and advertising agencies? Let me tell you, it isn't so sexy when you have to deal with bullshit like this."

I'm sick, sick, sick of people devaluing the work of real graphic designers. There's a sea of difference between being able to move graphics around in Publisher and understanding the nuances of typography, contrast, image and so on that produce good communications that influence behavior. People who spend four years in college earning a degree in visual communications (or graphic design to use another term) learn far more than how to manipulate computer programs. They learn critical thinking skills. Did you know that for every credit hour a designer earns, she spends two to three times that much time in class each week and countless more hours researching and working on projects outside of class? When I went to the Herron School of Art and Design, my 16 hours each semester were like a full time job and a half. Not only do design students put in a lot of time, they are under constant peer scrutiny. They also learn about business and psychology - and much to the surprise of many - they have the equivalent of art history minors and have to take, gasp, math, science, writing and more to round out their degrees. What's the reward for all this extraordinarily time consuming and difficult work? Middle managers, corporate executives and other administrators who value the creation of a spreadsheet far more than the creation of communications that actually, well, communicate. Sigh.

Let me give a nod to writers as well. I once heard an executive say, "We don't need a writer. Isn't everyone a writer at some level? Let's save that money. You do it." I feel your pain, brothers and sisters. I feel it.