Thursday, March 21, 2013

you can't always get what you want

When I'm not drawing my silly little pictures of obscure celebrities who met some horrifically tragic demise, I am a graphic designer. I've been doing that job for nearly 30 years for over a dozen employers. (The drawings are just a way to relax, have fun and answer only to myself.) As a graphic designer, I have created brochures, advertisements and invitations. I have designed newsletters, textbooks and even store signage. And logos. I have created many logos. Many, many logos. And it ain't as easy as you may think.

A week or so ago, my wife's brother (No, not that one — the other one) called. He told me news of layoffs at the hospital where he is employed as a neuropsychologist. He was spared, but the ax fell on two veteran doctors with 50 years of practice experience between them. They were flatly informed by hospital administration that their particular areas of practice were not generating enough income. With that, they were unceremoniously shown the door. The two until-recently employed doctors decided to open their own private psychology practice. My brother-in-law who — for the time being — still has a job, decided he was interested in expanding his horizons. He unofficially committed to joining his former colleagues in their new venture. The principals of the newly formed business determined that they needed a logo and brochure to launch their project. This is where I come in.

With over a quarter of a century of design, print and marketing experience, I was the natural choice for my brother-in-law. And being part of the family was a bonus. He proposed my services to his new partners. He explained my credentials and related a few of my past clients. They questioned my access to the proper tools (i.e. the latest computer software and a few random technology-sounding terms they may have overheard). My bro-in-law sarcastically countered that my submissions would be presented in crayon on the back of a used napkin. They were not amused, but after a little convincing, they conceded to giving me a shot.

Without revealing the secretive process of logo creation, lest I have my artist's license permanently revoked, let's just say I sent seven logo designs for the new partnership to peruse. Seven. SEVEN! I must have been out of my fucking mind.

Last night, my phone rang and it was my brother-in-law. He sounded very subdued and a little defeated.

"Hey, Josh," he began, "you didn't start working on that brochure, did you?" The tone of his question made me believe that he hoped I didn't start working on that brochure. Indeed, I had not and I told him so. He emitted a sigh of relief.

"Well, don't.," he said and he went on to explain about the endless conversation through countless emails regarding the whole brochure/logo request. They discussed, without including my brother-in-law (their potential partner), how they didn't like any of my logo designs. They relentlessly picked the designs apart like two vultures ripping into a rotting coyote carcass. Then, they presented my brother-in-law with a Southwestern blanket design that they hoped to incorporate into the logo, pointing out that they "really like it." They also inquired about seeing and reviewing my portfolio. Y'know, like an audition.

I laughed. I had heard it all before. Many, many times. Everyone's a fucking artist and everyone knows how to design. Garbage men, sandwich makers, window washers, cashiers at WalMart and now, apparently, doctors.

My brother-in-law apologized for roping me into this fiasco-waiting-to-happen and explained that they will be using another designer. One closer to their home. One who, he thinks, specializes in take-out menus.

And he also rethought his decision to join "these two nut jobs," as he put it.

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