Soft Stuff Rant
Please buy our $1000 product for all the wonderful things it will do with your inspiration. It will make you feel like an artist. Yes, it will occasionally and unexpectedly quit, causing you to lose everything you created in a day, but we've remedied this with a cute saying, Save Often Stupid, which puts the blame elsewhere. The real irony is that when you want to quit, our software will sometimes crash, causing an additional waste of precious time.
We realize we are the only industry that can sell an expensive product without working out all the bugs; that's because you can't test-drive a car without tires, brush your teeth without bristles in your toothbrush, or use a nail without a point so it's understandable a sale would not result without working out those bugs. But, in fact, offering a free trial gives us the advantage; thirty days is just long enough to enjoy all the good things we've built into the stuff but not nearly long enough to locate all the bugs. The fact that we don't know where all the bugs are in our product in no way makes us liable. In fact, once you open that cellophane, you own it because there are no returns. Now, you may think this is unfair; and to this sentiment, we say with great empathy and complete and utter understanding, tough cookies.
A Few Thoughts on Fluid & Static Media
JOBS: Hiring & Firing in Design
PORTFOLIO: Part Two
Web Theft: What to do!
PORTFOLIO: What's yours is NOT theirs.
Fair Use, Copyright and Theft of Idea
Designers and professional art directors know there are plenty of career opportunities to take the easy road to complete jobs. It's littered with Google images, online download sites and image banks where one might find a photograph or illustration suitable for a comprehensive or research material for an illustration. It is much easier to ask permission than to use material illegally. Why risk it when you might get famous in the process and end up surrendering half of all your earnings plus punitive damages due the originator of the work you "borrowed"? My advice is don't even think about it. Jeff Koons makes a very good living selling stuff he calls art; though taking a postcard of a group of dogs shot by professional photographer Art Rogers and shipping it off to Italian artisans to have it reproduced as sculpture is not art. That pseudo art sold 3 sculptures at $367,000 each. Rogers, who owned the rights to the photograph used on the postcard, sued and won. The court found "substantial similarity" and that Koons had easy access to the picture; as a result, the sculpture was judged a copy of Rogers' work. Koons attempted to use Fair Use laws as a defense but lost anyway.
Health Insurance for FREELANCERS
Down & Out
My worst nightmare became reality when I hurt my back. I had been freelancing for about 3 years, but still hadn't accumulated enough regular work to buy health insurance. Besides, I had jobs with design studios and small companies at various times during my career that didn't provide employee benefits, so it wasn't something I missed. It's a common occurence in the commercial art industry; margins are so tight, many employers simply cannot meet the rent, pay the salaries and offer a competitive benefit package. Freelance teaches you a deep appreciation for employee benefits, but perhaps not enough to give up freedom (yes, put on your best Mel Gibson blue face, thank you).
Economic Chaos & FREELANCE
The news reports about our robust economy last year baffled me, and I freely admit my life as an artist has dragged me through the school of hard knocks and taught me how to live well without having a lot of money. In December, our economy grew a miserly 0.6 per cent and they were still calling it robust. The first quarter of 2008 reported the same statistics (that's six tenths of one point of 100 points, kids) of 0.6 per cent growth: NOW we're in a recession according to analysts. The cost of fuel has quadrupled, and since every money making venture depends on oil at one level or another, it makes good sense that rising prices would soon follow as I wrote back in 2005 on a topic I know practically nothing about—economics. Why are we talking about this on a design blog? Because many have new businesses but few have business education, so here's few things about how to stay in the black while your competitors are just black and blue.
Sex, Women, Men & QUESTIONS
CREATIVITY, a sister publication to Advertising Age and B2B is a real beefcake treat; every couple of months, it's filled with all the young men in advertising in various states of undress. Of course, it features their work, too, but it's hard to find any articles or features on women in advertising. The only women in that publication is the female editor, Teresa Iezzi and the occasional model appearing in ads. Good news, though, the February issue included a small POV article by Paula Scher. The advertising industry male-dominated power brokers should rely less on their sexual politics and more on the social fact that men and women are equal and roles in society should not be based on gender.
This is a good time of year to remember small kindnesses from casual acquaintances; those who spend valuable time assisting others in spite of their own heavy workload. Perhaps you are one of the people who do random acts of kindness on a daily basis. It's a simple philosophy of helping whoever, whenever one can, without judgment, reason or expectation. The payoff works both ways. You get to relieve universal stress and set an example, sometimes one that will affect the recipient for a lifetime. All those generous experts at forums and on lists pertaining to subjects like web design are donating billable time—random acts of kindness are something you can do, too. A couple of weeks back, I stopped at the post office with my final shipment for Christmas. My freelance work doesn't require anything beyond jeans and a t-shirt; I fit in real well with the rest of my rural locals. A well-coifed woman in a mink coat was behind me in line. As I started out for my car, I heard the clerk tell her she was a dollar short. "Oh dear, oh, dear. I'll be right back." As she turned to run out to her SUV, I pulled a crumpled dollar out of my old down coat and said, "Here, save yourself a trip." She was both mystified and delighted; though somewhat wary. Picture the humbled principal on the bus in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when offered some warm gummy bears by a runny nosed kid. Good for her—perhaps she will see the pleasure in doing random acts of kindness and pass it on. We all make judgments; especially aesthetic judgments. But it would be a wonderful thing if we could withhold forming an opinion until there was some basis beyond appearance for forming one. If we applied the same weights and measures to food that we apply to people, no one would eat chocolate. When presented with an opportunity to close the gap between complete and incomplete, seize the moment and become the resolving link.
LAWS of Authorship
One almost famous photographer I know put out a remarkable self-promotion piece. It was a calendar so simple and stunning, everyone wanted one. It was a series of posters with spot varnishes printed in full color on 100 pound coated cover. Being a professional (before he sucked everything up as nose candy), he stamped a copyright mark on each and every image used to produce those promotional pieces. About 6 months later, he received a phone call from a printer two thousand miles away. â€œSay, Iâ€™ve got these stripped up negatives here and I donâ€™t see a copyright release. Iâ€™ll need that before I can proceed with the job.â€ It seems the guy who printed the job for the photographer liked the posters so much, he decided to reprint them quietly for his own promotion, without the knowledge or permission of the photographer. â€œHell, no, Iâ€™m not giving you my permission.â€ Oh, to be a fly on the wall when those two guys came together.
IOU: What To Do When the Chips are Down
My friend, the hoity-toity designer, bought several houses the last time the economic wheel hit dirt. He rented them out and had quite a nice piece of pocket change. When property values plummeted, unemployment rose and tenants decamped, he couldnâ€™t pay the mortgage on some of those empty houses. He walked away. I was at his house one day when the phone rang. â€œHello?â€ he answered, â€œyeah, just a minute, Iâ€™ll get him.â€ Then he set the phone down and continued our conversation on the dying art of marker comps. After about ten minutes, I reminded him about the caller on hold. â€œNo worries, itâ€™s just a collection agent. I like to tie up their line and let them sweat it out. After a few times, they just give up.â€ No fear here.
The Consumer Credit Protection Act lays out the rules for collection agents. One thing you can do to end those calls is send a certified letter telling them to stop calling you. They are obligated by law to stop and if they donâ€™t, you can sue them for 3 times the amount of money you owe them plus any punitive damages the court will allow.
Close, But No Banana
A Changed Man
One of a proofreaderâ€™s tests for checking leading consistency in text heavy copy is turning it upside down and looking for uneven spacing or single characters that shouldnâ€™t be there.This works because it removes distractions. Right side up, one might be tempted to get involved with reading copy or enjoying the accompanying illustration. Call me crazy, but when I saw these two video captures next to each other, it sure looked like different people. If you ignore the window dressing and just concentrate on the frame, are they the same? I was wondering what some real experts in Photoshop thought. Post your comments and convince me itâ€™s the same guy.