Shipping And Mishandling.

As a freelance graphic designer I do a lot of business on-line. I shop for products that I need for my business on websites like Amazon or I buy software directly from Adobe. It would be a cliché to say that I do this because it’s “fast and convenient” but the truth of the matter is there’s no reasonable way to do this especially when I have to be locked in my office to get work done.

I also do my fair share of shipping and sometime my daily schedule revolves around when the mail arrives, when does the post office open or closes, or if I have to hustle to get to the nearest over-night delivery service depot? There are no excuses when someone needs something immediately; it doesn’t matter how much snow is on the road nor how much ice is accumulating on the tree branches and power lines. Something has to get to where it needs to be when it needs to be there… and since I have a full-time four-wheel drive I’ll deliver something to the printers or a client on my own if I have to.

I know for some people and companies it’s a foreign concept – reliability.

One of my first encounters with problems with shipping was when I first went freelance back in 2000 (wow… it’s been 14 years?) and I ordered an upgrade to my software packages. I ordered them weeks in advance because my wife and I were going to go on a much needed vacation and I wanted to make sure that when it arrived it wouldn’t be sitting on our doorstep for days and nights while we were gone. The last work day before our vacation came and went, and nothing. Saturday came and went, and there was no package.

My wife and I postponed leaving for our camping trip, staying home on Monday to wait for our package to arrive… and it didn’t. The same thing happened on Tuesday. And again on Wednesday… it finally arrived on Thursday and my wife and I were both relieved and angry at the same time. We paid for “express” shipping… to have it arrive a week late? How much longer would we have waited if we didn’t pay that premium?

This problem has almost vanished since package tracking has almost become standard. I don’t care where the package is or how long it’s going to get here (most of the time) I just want to know when it’s going to arrive to make sure my dog isn’t harassing the delivery man or woman. When I need to be at the door to sign something, or am I’m going to be traveling when it finally arrives?

What a great way to spend a vacation; being in Florida with my wife and kids while worrying about a new hard drive for my server that could be sitting on my doorstep. According to the news, back home there are record low temperatures. If the drive survives – I might label and map it as “Polar Vortex.”

I’m experiencing “daja vu” all over again. As of this writing, I’m waiting for a new video card to arrive. I bought two other things for the same legacy machine I’m restoring – the operating system and another hard drive – that already arrived. Since the tracking number doesn’t work I have no idea if it’s just lost, late, or out for delivery as of this moment. There are places I need to go but can’t until I know for sure if I need to be here to receive it.

I paid for premium shipping. I need to get what I paid for and I need to be able to rely on companies like DHL, UPS, Fed-Ex and the United States Postal Service for packages I’m shipping and receiving. If this is going to become a permanent trend am I going to have to start changing my lead-times to accommodate this new standard of performance?

Time will literally tell.

A logo only a Yahoo could love…

A logo only a Yahoo could love…

There’s a reason why I had to reprint of Marrisa Mayer’s “tumblr” – it was simply unreadable in it’s original form. Why?

Let me just give you a little bit of background here for a second…

As chronicled in the book “I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59” by Douglas Edwards, Miss Mayer changed the font on the site’s results page to Verdana because a “report” and “statistics” told her it was the “right” thing to do without looking to see how it would render in all browsers. Now, taking a look at her “tumblr” page she’s using the dreaded white text on a black background – despite countless research that explains why this is a horrible thing to do for your readers. As any design teacher will tell you, it only looks “cool” superficially – use it when you really don’t want your visitors to read your text. You would think that a woman who is obsessed with “data” and “research” into what’s more “readable” would know better.

This gets me to the type of leader I have the least respect for; the bosses, managers, supervisors, and executives who hire experts then won’t trust the people they hire. After you hire a graphic designer to do design work why wouldn’t you not trust their experience and education when creating a design? Or do you just like to have people surrounding you who are “only the best” and you still have to do everything yourself – which implies everyone else is incompetent and you know enough about everything to get all the work done.

Do I have enough time and space to vent about that?

My thoughts about the logo itself: Despite all my criticism above I have to admit that this logo does its job. I dislike it when a company will totally undo its logo just because. You only totally revise it when you need to distract from your potential clients from your prior mistakes or blunders.

When Pepsi redid their logo from the Red White And Blue “Ying/Yang” symbol to something that looks like a pictogram of a fat kid with his belly sticking out of his shirt – it was a total fail. What were they trying to hide, what were they trying to distract customers from? Pepsi should have made a much more subtle change to their logo or just leave it alone since they were a successful company… it was an unnecessary change.

Yahoo!’s logo change isn’t that radical. It’s subtle while being cleaner and fresher than the original. It’s not so much as a departure than it is a refresher – much the same way grocery stores rearrange the isles to keep you wandering around looking for what’s on your list in the hopes you’ll stumble upon something new.

It’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. It’s like going from “vanilla” to “French Vanilla!”

Geeking Out on the Logo

So, tonight we unveiled the new Yahoo logo, concluding our 30 days of change.

We hadn’t updated our logo in 18 years.  Our brand, as represented by the logo, has been valued at as much as ~$10 billion dollars.  So, while it was time for a change, it’s not something we could do lightly.

On a personal level, I love brands, logos, color, design, and, most of all, Adobe Illustrator.  I think it’s one of the most incredible software packages ever made.  I’m not a pro, but I know enough to be dangerous :)

So, one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team: Bob Stohrer, Marc DeBartolomeis, Russ Khaydarov, and our intern Max Ma.  We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday designing the logo from start to finish, and we had a ton of fun weighing every minute detail.  

We knew we wanted a logo that reflected Yahoo – whimsical, yet sophisticated.  Modern and fresh, with a nod to our history.  Having a human touch, personal.  Proud.

Other elements fell quickly into place:

  • We didn’t want to have any straight lines in the logo.  Straight lines don’t exist in the human form and are extremely rare in nature, so the human touch in the logo is that all the lines and forms all have at least a slight curve.
  • We preferred letters that had thicker and thinner strokes – conveying the subjective and editorial nature of some of what we do.
  • Serifs were a big part of our old logo.  It felt wrong to give them up altogether so we went for a sans serif font with “scallops” on the ends of the letters.
  • Our existing logo felt like the iconic Yahoo yodel.  We wanted to preserve that and do something playful with the OO’s.
  • We wanted there to be a mathematical consistency to the logo, really pulling it together into one coherent mark.
  • We toyed with lowercase and sentence case letters.  But, in the end, we felt the logo was most readable when it was all uppercase, especially on small screens.

And, we were off.  Here is the blueprint of what we did, calling out some of what was cool/mathematical:

Our last move was to tilt the exclamation point by 9 degrees, just to add a bit of whimsy.

Prior to the weekend, we had also polled our employees on the changes they wanted to see.  Interestingly, 87% of our employees wanted some type of change in the logo (either iterative or radical).  In terms of specific attributes, our employees had wanted:

  • sans serif
  • variable size letters
  • a variable baseline
  • a tilted exclamation point
  • and the majority of their favorite logos were uppercase. 

While we hadn’t set out to explicitly fill each request, we met a lot of what the people who know us best felt suited us best.

Color and texture were pretty easy.  Our purple is Pantone Violet C – a pantone that needs no number and no introduction ;).  For the texture, we came up with the nice idea of creating a chiseled triangular depth to the logo – this causes the letter Y to appear in the shading at the ends of each of the letters.

Over the subsequent weeks, we’ve worked on various applications and treatments of the logo (the favicon, app launchers, sub-brand lockups).  It’s held up well.  And, while moving forward we’re likely to make small iterative changes along the way rather than dramatic ones, we’re really happy with where we ended up.  We hope you are too!

Here’s a fun video (created by our amazing intern Max) that animates the design notes:

Slut-Shaming Miley Cyrus – Maybe it’s about time.

 

Call me a prude, but after seeing the video replays of the MTV music awards I was disgusted. All I know is that Miley Cyrus made a slut out of herself again after keeping her tongue out, dancing like she was gyrating against someone during doggie style sex, fingering herself with a foam “We’re Number One” hand, and then gyrated against the pelvis of Robin Thicke’s at the end of the performance.

Amid all that, she wasn’t even singing – rather she was shouting into the microphone. I’m not even sure what it was that she was doing, besides screaming at the top of her lungs – “I’m not Hanna Montana anymore, BITCHES!” That’s the most I could make out. I might be wrong… if she wasn’t literally doing that, then she was doing so symbolically. I’m not sure exactly what she was trying to do besides cry for help because her life has spun out of control. Or maybe she was doing something else.

Maybe Miss Cyrus is wantonly trying to destroy her former “good girl” image and knows exactly what she’s doing in the hopes that people would consider her to be a more mature, legitimate performer. She’s mature alright… mature as in “Mature Audience…” as in Triple X…

There’s been at least 24 hours (as of this writing) of protests, condemnation, criticism, and critiques from various sources – all of them either condemning her or condemning the commendation of Miss Cyrus. There are the bashers who are accused of “Slut-Shaming” her, and those people who are vilifying her critics for being too puritan, too conservative and self-righteous.

At or around the same time of this controversy there are other sex scandals of note; let’s not get into the whole story with New York City Mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener and his cyber girlfriend Sydney Leathers, and her ventures in hard-core pornographic movies. Let’s skip over the mayor of San Diego Bob Filner who resigned over multiple accusations of sexual harassment (and maybe even sexual assult.) Type of the word “Sex Scandal” and there are other stories; some involve a pastor, a school principal, a teacher, a husband of a Kardashian sister, an Attorney General in Utah, top law officials in China…

But “we” are really mad at Miley Cyrus. Really, really, really mad!

Why? The fact is, none of the aforementioned besides Miss Cyrus were put on a pedestal as an entertainer or role model for young children; especially our daughters and nieces. We’re outraged because someone who the young ladies in our lives looked up to while they tried to emulate her has gone so far into destroying what made them famous and in turn MIGHT inspire young girls to follow suit in acting ‘sluty’.

Outraged might be the wrong word, how about the word “betrayed?” And maybe I’m also making the case that our feeling of betrayal towards Miss Cyrus isn’t all about her; she’s only the representative of the entire entertainment establishment that seems hell bent on sexualizing our daughters at a younger and younger age this year.
Another reason why we’re angry (especially as parents) is that we know other people have sex but we just don’t want to see it, we don’t want to know about, and we sure don’t want it put in our faces without our consent. Sure, the same men and some women who are protesting against Miss Cyrus are the same people who like to dabble in porn from time to time, might go to a strip club on occasion, and do some pretty wild things behind our bedroom doors (or the kitchen, or the basement, or the back woods, in an empty meeting hall right next to a “Star Trek” convention, in a tent on the side of a mountain, in abandoned buildings…) but that’s private. There’s a reason why “private lives” or “personal lives” are called that.
Maybe it’s time to push back against the women on-line who try to shame us for trying to “slut shame” Miley Cyrus. Maybe we’re past due for a revival of “puritan values” and make a stand for what a lot of us like to call “filth” and call out other activities in the media for what it is. Maybe we’re past due for shouting down celebrities and media personalities who try to make names for themselves by doing genuinely embarrassing acts in public.

I would never want to see my daughter (if I had one) or a girl my son was dating to behave like that, ever. What would that say about her, what would that say about what she thinks about herself? Activities like that scream “I’m desperate for attention” and could lead to date rape, venereal diseases, unwanted pregnancies and if that crap get out into the internet/Facebook; unemployment/unemployable status.

Looking for Work in Under-Served Regions

caution-signDoes anyone know of a market that is underserved in terms of there being a ton of work? Is there any area of this field that is looking for artists/designers these days….preferably in the US?

The short answer: Yes! Typically the further away from cities you get you’ll find them. The further away, the less likely they have a graphic designer who’s working their steadily and serving the region with good design question. Marketing yourself to those people is just as hard as marketing yourself in a competitive/saturated market; so be prepared to market yourself.

The long answer: Excellent question and one that I’ve been thinking about a lot these days; especially as I’m getting settled here in my own location and I’m looking back at all the places I’ve been (from various regions in Vermont, Upstate New York on the Canadian Border, Freemont California, Topeka Kansas…) and I’ve been wondering if I could make it there or if I could even be a graphic design student at college, period.
I have two schools of thought for your question.

The First: there are underserved regions all over the country on two fronts. First – there’s only one Nina (and only one Eric Fisk CGD) and there are many, many regions of the country. There just isn’t enough of us – as individuals – to go around.
Then there’s the school of thought that since Graphic Design is everywhere, and it’s constantly changing and evolving, and there are new needs springing up everywhere it’s up to us (again – as individuals) to find those opportunities. Mention you’re a graphic designer and people will as you if you do this, that, or the other thing.

The Second: There are indeed regions of the country that are desperately underserved. Perfect example is that there’s an establishment between my house and the college town of Keene that has a horrible sign. It looks like someone took some spray paint, some stencils, and a large piece of plywood or plastic and made up a sigh on the spot. It’s a crappy sign that says – to me – “like everything else, We care so little about our sign! If you think this sign is a mess, you should see our kitchen and bathrooms!”

This establishment is in a region where there are plenty of crappy signs; many are old and warn down “Clip Art” varieties, the hand-painted ones, and the ones made by a first year art student who must have slept through the classes on Hierarchy, Contrast, and Typography. Many business owners in these regions have the attitude, “We’re country, we don’t need nothing fancy” and mistake sloppiness for rustic charm.

Do these people need the services of a good graphic designer? Absolutely.

Do they understand why they need the services of a good graphic designer? Arguably, and good luck trying to make your case while trying to sell your services to them.

Too often I’ve found in rural areas that natives don’t take too kindly to stranger and they have a type of nepotism; they would rather give their business to someone whom they know does bad work but has been in the region for a long time rather than someone with talent but just moved in a short while ago. Also, keep in mind that “a short while ago” could mean anytime between last week, last year, or 10 years ago.

The bottom line is the same where ever you are; it’s about selling yourself. It’s just as hard to sell yourself in an area saturated with other graphic designers as it is to sell yourself in a region with none and you potential customers who don’t know why they actually need you. Not only do you have to be a great graphic designer but you have to be an excellent sales person and the product you’re selling is yourself.

What I Didn’t Know Then

This is an article that I wrote for my college paper… and it’s something that every graphic design student should read. ECF-CGD 2013

bluto-collegeIf I were granted three wishes, one of them would be to go back in time and have lunch with myself as a 18 year old from 1987. (Yes, I’m that old!) I would like to give me/him advice from everything I’ve learned in the past 26 six years. I would tell me/him to watch less TV, exercise more. Instead of reading on the couch, read on the stationary bike. Go to college, study what you love (graphic design and professional writing,) and stay away from women named “Sherry,” “Mary,” and “Mya.” Oh… and here is the address of a beautiful woman in New Jersey. She loves to ride horses so you better learn to ride. Finally, here’s the address of the most important buildings of your life, it’s in Gardner, Massachusetts.

Since I can’t talk to myself from 1987, I’ll share this with you – the five things I wish I knew when I first started as a student so many (many, many, many!) years ago.

Number One – Find out which of your first semester books will help you for the rest of your career and don’t let go of them. Perfect example for me for my graphic design curriculum was “Graphic Design Solutions,” by Robin Landa. We only needed this book for a couple of chapters for our first course – CGD 101 – but there are more chapters in the book that were necessary for the rest of our courses like typography. It wasn’t until later that I realized that this book could have really helped me through a couple of other courses, too. I write this paragraph with gnashing teeth and a clenched jaw… be careful with what books you return to the bookstore. In fact, return NONE of them. Keep them long after you’ve retired from whatever you’re studying to become, you’ll need them long after you’ve slipped the mortal coil of being a MWCC student.

There are some books that are worth more than their weight in gold! (Oh, and I’m not kidding about doing your reading on a stationary bike or treadmill… there’s something about getting the blood flowing that helps you remember.)

Number Two – Brace yourself; you are going to find out facts about the people in your life and a lot of it is going to be really ugly. I said something similar to my wife after her aunt died; hang on because with a change like this there are bound to be things coming out of background that’s not going to be pretty. I wish I was wrong. All the petty jealousies people have harbored against you secretly will come out in the open; all the animosities that were boiling under the surface are now exposed and festering like open emotional wounds.

For some people, the fact that you are going to college is going to seem like a death or suicide to some people – you’re “killing” the loser they thought you were. There are people that you’re counting on now to help you now will abandon you in the very near future based purely on envy; since you’re doing this (getting a higher education) why can’t they? Because they didn’t have it in them in the past or don’t have it now there will be some members of your inner circle who will try to undermine your success. There are a few people in your own circle of family and friends that want to suck you back down to their level when you find out who they are, cut them out of your life for as long as you are in college and when you begin your new career after you graduate.

This is OK because…

Number Three – Prepare to have your heart stolen by your fellow class mates in your curriculum. I can rattle off the 10 most important people in my life, and only three of them are in my own family (my wife and my two sons) everyone else who is important to me now have something in common: Mount Wachusett Community College. That’s teachers, staff members, and other students. Your fellow students are not your rivals; they are your allies and will soon become your closest friends.

Number Four – Budget your time and money. Don’t procrastinate! Don’t wait till the night before to do homework because – and I can tell you this from experience – you never do your best work under pressure. When you’re crunched for time you take stupid shortcuts which will cost you in the end.

This is the time to be selfish. The only thing that’s important in your life is you! Some other family members are going to have to help with the other day-to-day chores, period. Alas, I’ve had to bribe my sons with an in ground swimming pool that I’ll by when I get a steady job after MWCC; but you should see those little gremlins work now! Find new and exciting ways to motivate your kids and other family members.

(Also, playing Hanson’s “Mmmm Bop” over and over and over again will get them into high gear… after the fourth and fifteenth round they had the dishes done, the house vacuumed, the dog groomed and their toys put away. I don’t care if this is against the Geneva Convention – IT WORKS!)

Number Four B – Pain and exhaustion are temporary, the pain of failure and regret lasts a life time. Sacrifice a little now or you’ll be kicking yourself for the rest of your life. Do your homework as soon as it’s assigned. You don’t have all time in the world! Things happen when you least expect them. Early bird gets the worm; early student gets the best grades!

Number Five – Savor your time. Believe it or not, your time at MWCC will come to an end. It seems like May of next year or the year after that are a place far, far away… but when you get on this rollercoaster called College, it’ll be over too soon.

The Other N-Word

I have a problem with some words. Word’s that are pejoratives outside of certain circles while badges of honor with-in those specific circles. Like “The N-Word” for people of color. If one person of color calls another the “N-Word” then in most cases it’s a term of endearment. If a white person uses the “N-Word” then that person’s way of life or personal well-being can be destroyed.

Just ask Paula Dean.

Then there’s the other “N-Word.” Nerd.

If my fellow nerds call me our “N-Word,” it’s like a badge of honor. If a non-nerd calls me our “N-Word,” it’s a pejorative.
If I’m talking to you guys about how I’m taking my father-in-law’s discarded XP machine and gutting it of optical drives and cables and putting them in my Gateway 7210 server to optimize it’s original potential before I install Windows Server 2003 and hook it up to the local network so I can install SCSI drives in the Hot-Swap Bay’s and dedicate each one to different clients and/or projects MAYBE I might have earned the mantle of “geek” or “nerd” in a positive way, but only from my fellow computer aficionados.
If I was a 17 year old loser and weighted 98 pound at 5’8” and I tell you about the Star Trek convention when I met this nerdy girl and how I got to third base (she let me hold her hand while telling me what was her favorite episode of The Original Series) then maybe I might have it coming as a put-down.

It’s all about who’s using the word, in what context and what our established relationship is; A stranger who calls me a “geek” or a “nerd” because “I’m good with computers” might be in for a fight or heated argument.
What got me started was a post on a Facebook group that I belonged to when a woman was soliciting free work by saying; “I was wondering if some geek or nerd type would like to do a sort of …” doesn’t even matter what the rest of the request was because she lost me. To call a true, professional graphic designer a geek or a nerd and not a graphic designer is cause for concern. If she doesn’t respect you as a true craftsman then there’s no way in hell she’s going to appreciate the craftsmanship of the finished product.

My response; “Gee… No. I’m sorry I’m not a geek or nerd type. I’m a graphic designer with my own equipment and software. Darn… Good luck with your search.”

I can’t see myself working with this woman regardless of how deep her pockets are and how green her greenbacks are. To ask someone to work for them while calling that person or nerd or a geek right off the bat isn’t any different than going to a diner and saying to one of the waitresses behind the counter: “I’m wondering if some bitch or whore type could fetch me a menu.”

Don’t be surprised if someone urinates in your coffee mug before you’re served.
There are some words of endearment that belong just to those groups, and those same words can be used to demonize, diminish or erode someone’s sense of self. Nobody gets to call my sister a bitch except her friends and family because it’s a term of endearment and we all know how bossy she can get. Call my sister a bitch when you don’t even know her… we’ll have words out in the parking lot.

I can’t believe that in this day and age, in the age of political correctness I have to spell it out to some people that there’s some behavior that’s unacceptable. There are some people who have worked too hard in their professions to be called certain things; to call the plumber fixing your sink or the mechanic fixing your breaks a “wrench monkey” is begging someone to do a half-assed job. Or worse, that “wrench monkey” might knock out some of your front teeth with whatever tool he has in his hand at the time.

I’ve worked too hard to become a graphic designer to have some old bat call me a “nerd or geek type” while she’s soliciting pro-bono work. I’ve worked too hard to become a graphic designer to do work for free, period. I would like to think that I’m at the point where I can command a little more respect and a lot more money for what I do.

 

Few words on Heisenberg.

heisenger-wall

I’ve made funny comments from time to time that if you mixed “Roseanne,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” in a used Maple Syrup jug you would have something that resembles my life.

Which one do I really most identify with? Today it’s “Breaking Bad” because of the tree male leads that remind me of myself in different times of my life.

First there’s Jessie who reminds me of my youth who couldn’t get anything done right, everything turns to crap and I relied on the wrong people to help me.

Then there’s Hank, the older and wiser guy who’s still rough around the edges. He’s successful and faced a lot of his demons but there is one last big score that eludes him. When he finds out the truth he can’t believe he’s been lied to all this time and feels vulnerable and alone. While he’s been proven right in the past because of his diligence in the past, he’s been questioned and mocked for what he believed was true in the beginning. He’s had to work all this time to prove he knows his stuff while hiding his insecurities under false bravado.

Then there’s Walter White, AKA “Heisenberg” who took his fate into his own hands after he learned about his cancer and he might die in the near future. He needed money and he needed it fast and took what he thought was his best opportunity to make it by using his talents in chemistry to make it. Because of that, he got mixed up in a world he didn’t belong in… until he mastered it a little bit at a time.

The things Walter White has done to get to the top of the food chain isn’t for the faint of heart and hopefully none of us will have to go to his extremes, but let’s face it – we are all a little jealous of him (and the actor who plays him) because he’s able to change the rules to suit his needs.

I’ll admit it, there are aspects of Walter White’s life that I’m jealous of and here’s a short list of unconventional reasons why…

 

The Stripped Down RV

Let’s face facts, even as a graphic designer you’ve wanted nothing more than to get in a camper and go somewhere quiet where there are no cell phones, no internet, and hardly any electricity. The only electricity you have is the electricity you brought either through batteries or a portable generator. There have been times that I’ve wanted to get a bare-bones camper of my own, strip it out of everything besides the bare necessities, and outfit it with a desk large enough for my computer and a couple of monitors. Let’s not forget all the media I need and tutorial/How-To books in case I need help figuring out how to do something.

Call it a work vacation or a “workacation” – something I could really use right now.

 

The Underground “SuperLab” under the industrial laundry

Breaking Bad (Season 4)

Admittedly, maybe the Tricked Out RV for Graphic Designers (or meth cookers) might get boring after a while and there’s just not enough resources to get the high level work done. Imagine your own “Gus Fring” and “Gale Boetticher” getting together to build this incredible lab that would suit your profession or industry.

What would a Multi-Million dollar “Superlab” look like for Graphic Designers? I personally have no idea, but if I had the money to spend we would all soon find out. An underground lab might be a bit of over-kill but fact is, it’s always cool in the winter and warm in the winter because after a couple of feet the ground is a constant 55°.

A “Superlab” is ever man’s fantasy for the simple fact that everyone of us have encountered a situation where we can’t finish our work because we don’t have something that we need at that very moment. We either have to stop what we’re doing to get it or find a work-around if we can’t afford it. Imagine how much we could do if we didn’t have problems like that and everything we could ever need is only a few steps away.

 

Being “The BEST” at something…

Few of us have ever experienced that feeling of being the best at something. If we have, it’s been temporary; like that feeling we get from our boss or client giving us an “Attaboy” or if one of our pieces of work wins an award.

There’s nothing like knowing that you’re the best at something, and everyone else that matters knows it, too. It’s an addicting feeling and it’s not something anyone could give up easily. Imagine your girlfriend was jealous of you and your success and she was just like an earlier girlfriend of mine and she said something stupid like “If you loved me you would give it up…” What would you do?

Granted, cooking meth isn’t the same as graphic design – nor as dangerous. But it would be pretty hard to walk away from something knowing that you’re really the best. It’s why professional athletes stay too long, why actors keep making movies that are crap long after they win an Oscar, and other professionals refuse to retire at the end of their careers.

One of the reasons why so many fictional heroes or anti-heroes appeal to us is because our inner desire to be the best at something and we want to emulate those characters. We are preoccupied with competing and perfecting our “game” from business, art, to sports. If we could master this “one thing” all the other pieces of our lives would fall into place.

 

… And our product is in demand

This dove tails perfectly into being the best at something – imagine if your product was in demand. Doesn’t have to be graphic design – it can be anything. What would your life look like if everyone wanted what you could deliver? Would your concerns about money be a thing in of the past?

Would a lot of your other problems be in your rear view mirror, too?

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A Man Driven With A Singular Purpose.

The most important aspect of Walter White’s/Heisenberg’s persona is his singular drive to do something. Unfortunately it’s cooking an illegal drug which involves killing a lot of other criminals and some innocent people along the way. What would Walt’s life look like if he had stayed with the company he cofounded with his friend or friends from college before he sold out for “A couple months worth of rent payments and grocery money?” What if he put the drive to become “Heisenberg” into a company on the leading edge of chemical science?

We wouldn’t have a great story, but this fictional character could have enjoyed a pretty sweet life.

Instead we have a man possessed with the singular ambition to make enough money to take care of his family and eventually driven to create a pretty powerful empire and he wasn’t willing to compromise or back down. He was more than willing to do what he needed to do.

GusDeadBlowing up an adversary looks good on paper and it might be something a few of us sicko’s might fantasize while we’re stuck in traffic but we don’t ever stop and think about the collateral damage or the serious repercussions. There are always unforeseen circumstances. The lesson to learn from Walter White/Heisenberg is to find a way to be that driven to become a success while at the same time not ruin our lives at home and hurt countless of other people. That’s obvious; the real trick for me is to explain how.

The best advice I can give a graphic designer on how to be your own “Heisenberg” of our industry and in your own region is to actually do the work. If your work isn’t your hobby when you’re not getting paid to do it and you’re not spending your “entertainment” money on new how-to books and tutorials then you’re doing something wrong. Hunt down new opportunities and don’t take “no” for an answer. Throughout the entire series, Walter White never let a problem get in the way of getting the work done. He didn’t use a problem as an excuse to quit or take an unexpected vacation. Bryan Cranston and the writers of the show found ways for this character to power through the problems and find a way out. Many times the solution to his problems was the vast knowledge of science in general and chemistry specifically.

What if you could know everything there is to know about the elements of design, graphic design history, and the tools of the trade? And when I’m talking about tools, I’m not just talking about The Adobe Creative Suite, I’m also talking about rendering tools to create visual effects like aurora’s and fractals. THAT is how you become the ‘Heisenberg’ of graphic design!

Knowledge is power – and it’s a sure way to get ahead without whacking people who get in the way!