On Fun and Wakes and Toothbrushes

Posted on Sep 19, 2012 in On Life's Important Stuff

Being “creative” usually starts off merely as having some fun.

Later—sometimes much later—it becomes your passion. If you can make a living at it, all the better.

Then, as my dad says, “that’s when the fun really begins, Kid.”

How I cut my creative teeth? My boss needed an invitation. Not just an invitation but an invitation for a big swanky event for all our high-profile tenants. The program available to lay out the invitation, WordPerfect. I sat for hours hand-feeding red card stock with gold trim through my HPLaser printer, unjamming it and refeeding it, unjam, refeed, wriggle, wriggle, shoving that stock through the rollers. The result was not the self-produced-but-still-awesome dream invitation we hoped for but we got our point across.

She later decided I’d be the perfect candidate to produce a site newsletter (I love a challenge). We managed a 900-acre site with something crazy like 6-million square feet of office space, retail, sports club, and hotel. The newsletter was to keep all our staff—corporate, security, engineering, janitorial, and landscaping—informed and up-to-date on events, good-news stories like babies born and marriages, changes, etc. Her directive for the piece, “make every font different and use tons of, if not every, color.” It was 8-to-12 pages of a hot, ugly mess, produced monthly using DrawPerfect … and so much fun.

The pieces on display throughout my portfolio are a smattering of years of “fun.” Friends think my perception of fun is askew: long, late-night hours, endless judgement, great designs pulled for lackluster replacements, being creative 24/7, and, at times, pulling hair (mine, not the clients’).

It is a joy when a design or a campaign we’ve all worked so-very hard on hits its mark, smack where we aimed it. In the end, of course, we all make money but the best is hearing all the resulting chatter trailing along behind that design’s dead-on mark like a huge, lasting wake on previously too-still waters.

I “chatter” on about other designers’ work, as well. I am forever looking and reviewing and discussing—–even if only to myself—about some design gone well or gone horribly wrong. Let’s face it, even bad design inspires; if nothing else, to do better next time.

Design—good or bad, right or wrong—is everywhere: letters, brochures, billboards, sides of buses, signage, license plates, web sites, and blogs. Even your toothbrush has countless design hours behind it by countless engineers costing countless millions of dollars to deliver that perfect design with those “cross-action” brushes.

How do you feel about the design of your toothbrush? See … now your chatter box is on.

In any case, personally, when just one person looks at a piece of mine and exclaims, “That’s great!”, I’m overjoyed and grateful.

Clients, obviously, want more than just one fan and this definitely keeps me challenged. So, when campaigns deliver beyond-projected results, bringing them orders, increasing their customer base, and driving up their revenue … that’s when I know. Not only have I accomplished my originally set-out goal of designing something fabulously effective for them, I have also had the absolute time of my life.

The fun has only just begun, Kids.




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