A running rant about bad television, crappy products, horrible service, mindless politics, corporate and government ineptitude, moronic media, marketing overload, public idiocy, stupid entertainment, etc. Here's what's annoying me today:

2.23.2006

Shit work I've done for cash

As requested, another post about my day job.

I could fill a whole blog with crappy shit that I've been forced to do by clients or bosses during my life as a designer: having to use crappy photos for political or budget reasons; having some senior marketing dufus come up with a "brilliant" idea that he forces me to do, that is really the most idiotic thing I've ever heard in my life; clients who say they want something "edgy" but are terrified of doing anything they haven't seen before. On and on and on.

Every day, the life of a designer is filled with compromises. Usually I grumble a bit, argue why some other solution would be better, and then "do what the client wants," while trying to save the thing as much as possible from completely sucking. I can generally live with the results, even if most of the shit I do these days isn't award-winning. It pays the bills. As a former creative director used to say. "If 5% of the work you are doing is cool, then you are doing OK" Basically I feel that most of the cool work I've done is stuff I've managed to sneak by when somebody wasn't paying attention.

So looking back over the past year to find the worst example of shit I've done for money, there was one particularly horrifying job I worked on (for a client I would never work for again, so I could care less if they see this). It was during a slow period last fall that I agreed to be an interim art director for a couple weeks at a local business magazine.

INSIDE BASEBALL WARNING

Turns out it was one of these "all-advertorial" magazines. For those of you not in the business, "advertorials" are those little sections in the middle of "real" magazines that are really ads designed to look like a special editorial section of the magazine. They are totally bogus, but like stadium naming rights, are here to stay. Most legitimate magazines label them in very small type at the top "special advertising section"

But there is a particularly awful new breed of magazine where every article in it is bought, written by, approved by, art supplied for free by, or somehow else completely controlled by the company the story is about. To the average dope, they may look like a real magazine, but to anybody with a brain in their head, the real purpose is pretty obvious. In general these rags are horrible looking.

They are sort of the bastard stepchild of custom publishing, a slightly more legitimate branch of marketing where businesses will publish a marketing brochure disguised as a magazine. Starbucks had one for a while that was pretty cool looking. While those are still pretty dubious as far as having a legitimate editorial mission, at least they are professionally designed and produced for the most part.



So anyway, the above is a spread from the issue of this rag that I worked on. The red circles point out all the reasons why to someone who loves magazine design, this was such a stench-inducing job to work on.
  • 1: Every feature in the entire 120 page magazine must follow this exact grid

  • 2: Story is a 100% puff piece bought by the subject company, and either written by, edited by, or approved by the company it is about

  • 3: Cheesy use of "vignettes" is required in all features

  • 4: For some stupid reason there is a full line space after each paragraph, which looks ridiculous

  • 5a: Every piece of art in the entire magazine is either supplied free by the client (aka, the subject of the story) or royalty free stock art. The art budget is $0. Note first use on the page of businessmen-shaking-hand partnership cliche photograph.

  • 5b: Hard to make out, but there is a second businessmen-shaking-hand cliche in this cheeseball section icon, which is repeated 34 times in the issue.

  • 6: Bio of the whore who wrote the story

  • Not labeled: Had to chase this client down for nearly three months to be paid

If you have made it this far, and still care about this subject, first, get a life, second, here's a link to another blog that talks about this particular magazine, and its ilk.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sick of Extremes said...

At least you didn't have to change careers a couple times in the 90's because of market forces. I can't believe I'm in sales but I had to do it to get a decent income. I shoulda been a musician!

5:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a hooker. Why are you willing to sell yourself to do shit work?

11:53 PM

 
Anonymous I2eal7ired said...

hey!! i liked reading about your shit work.. I myself have done plenty of shit work... for no good damn reason at all. Like for one.. I'm staying at my girlfriends house...where her Sister lives...older....neither one of these two girls will do any work...around the house, on the house, even cooking is a no-no to them... i compare them to Mice...or Rats outta NY. *yawn* yeah so i do shit work here YAY for ME...nah.

10:37 AM

 

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