Telling it like it is
Unlike other people, I haven’t been blogging because there’s nothing to write about. In fact, there are a million things to write about! I have a long list of articles I want to write here and here, but you know what they say: The body is willing but the flesh is weak.
One of the many things I have had to deal with lately is how to communicate my creative expectations with designers. In previous lifetimes, I have had the good fortune to work with kick-ass designers who know exactly what I had in mind (they were adept mind readers, thankfully, and always thought ahead of me). I don’t expect to know more than a designer in terms of colors, blending, typography, and usability, but I’d like to think I have a trusty head on my shoulder that knows good design from a bad layout that’s put together at the last minute and sent to me shamelessly, expecting me to say “Let’s go ahead with it” when it is just plain ugly.
What was worse than shamelessly sending me a draft of a holiday card with colors so blinding and a typography that was more unimaginative than playful? Taking my comments personally.
Maybe it’s my fault that in the past I had let things go, given them a day or two extra to improve (yet never doing so), and sugarcoating my comments because I was afraid of hurting their feelings. But finally (and I’d like to think of it as good), I decided I just had to tell them. The colors are painful to the eyes. Can you find a more reader-friendly font? Is there a way to tweak the logos so their colors blend with the layout?
And then I am accused of being not nice simply because I said the truth?
I remember back when I was 21, fresh out of college, and I was working as PR associate for Joan Orendain, who never sent out a press release without its going through at least five drafts. Nothing was ever sent out that was less than perfect. I remember how I just wanted to cry because there were times when (I thought) her comments were too harsh, because I thought my work was already perfect but she didn’t agree.
We thought of it as military school, but today I look back with gratitude because I knew I wouldn’t be such a meticulous and detail-oriented editor who wanted everything to be (at least almost) perfect. If you had only your life’s work to show for, wouldn’t you want it to be almost perfect as well?
This whole episode reminds me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in which nobody, except a child, had the gumption to point out that the king wasn’t wearing anything. Everybody just went with what the majority had say because no one wanted to speak his mind and look stupid.
I wish this designer had heard me at my uncensored worse. It would have been more fun.