Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ahhh - Collaboration

It can be a dicey thing, working in design and advertising. You've got artists (writers, designers) all over the place, and they think what they just did is good. You've also got planners and AEs who want a say in the project. Let's not forget the client, who thinks his grandchild is the sweetest little actress in the world and will carry the spot all by herself.

I sometimes imagine I can design - and then I run my crude designs by a real designer and the real designer comes back with a response like the note you see posted here.

This is real. Received today by email in reaction to one of my personal websites. It's a former colleague trying to tell me nicely not to mess with website design. I just stuck it in a fake post-it note for effect.

But this is what advertising is usually about. Give and take. A business where egos clash and people move on to other jobs all the time. If your skin is thin, you'll get frustrated.

Now I'm going to respond to this by pointing out all the typos I see on my former colleague's own stupid site.

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  • “If your skin is thin, you'll get frustrated.”

    Constructvie crit is one thing, but the problem is that the quote above reflects a culture of thought that thrives in agencies: all opinions must be heard and incorporated, regardless of whether or not the opinion is even valid.

    See, I hate to reduce the arguement to a lowest common denom kinda thing, but it's like me calling up the plumber to come fix the leak I obviously couldn't–and then proceeding to tell him how to fix it.

    By Blogger Make the logo bigger, at July 19, 2007 at 9:13 PM  

  • I hear ya, Bill, but I'm striving for something else. All opinions must be heard, but true collaboration does not require incorporation of those opinions. If need be, fight it out without really fighting, and of course, choose your battles.

    Many opinions carry weight if we can get past our own egos to see them. And every opinion is worthy of discussing before we get all pissed off and tell our teammates to go fuck themselves and find a new job.

    True, the agency culture stresses incorporation of those opinions, which is what I deem "watered down production by committee." I guess it comes down to trusting about two people to have the final say - the senior writer and the senior designer. But they can't be so arrogant that they don't at least hear and consider the chorus of would-be collaborators.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at July 19, 2007 at 9:43 PM  

  • I think the guy is a GENIUS! Obviously, he knows the person it was directed towards, otherwise he wouldn't be so direct. I wonder what the rest of the message said. You know these PR people, taking things out of context!

    By Blogger Scott, at July 19, 2007 at 10:24 PM  

  • Hey Scott - you Weasel Wussie Jerk Designer (WWJD). I will meet you in the parking lot for a broken bottle fight. And this time, don't bring your girlfriend to fight for you!

    (In fairness to Scott- the excluded part of the message was, "Sorry to be so blunt, but that's how I see it.")

    But really, Scott, I hope you see that I actually respected your arrogant, obnoxious - and correct - opinion. I'm not a designer. I accept that.

    Now go fix those damn typos on your site I've been telling you about for the last year.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at July 19, 2007 at 11:15 PM  

  • I'm a fan of the new graphic (on the personal site, since that's what you were talking about). :)

    Unless you changed the navigation, I thought it was pretty straight-forward.

    By Blogger Thinking In Vain, at July 20, 2007 at 8:35 AM  

  • Thanks, TIV. You're my kind of collaborator!

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at July 20, 2007 at 8:47 AM  

  • Hey man, you don't really need that hairline box around the fake post-it-note. You're kinda putting a box around a box. You should just have it on seemless white and let the body copy that flows around it define the square of the negative space.


    I know, that's just your blog's template forcing that on you, isn't it?

    By Anonymous Chris Grayson, at July 22, 2007 at 3:18 AM  

  • Good one, Chris.

    Yeah - it's the blog template. If you know how to get rid of it, let me know.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at July 22, 2007 at 9:47 AM  

  • Oh, I don't agree with letting every voice be heard. No time for it.


    I think we're in agreement, just to clarify, that's the culture I see even though I disagree with it. You can't just hold up a layout to everyone in the office and go “Hey, whatta ya think?”

    We both know human nature is such that you can't help but give an opinion on something when asked.

    By Blogger Make the logo bigger, at July 22, 2007 at 10:57 PM  

  • Bill: In the event that a decision can't be agreed upon and you're working late and still arguing: ask the night cleaning crew their opinion and go with it. Then give them a huge check for "creative consulting."

    Thanks for the template help. Still working on the other.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at July 23, 2007 at 3:57 PM  

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