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.

Advertisements

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:

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.

 

Father’s Day

scary-dragon

Instead of celebrating my birthday on my actual birthday, we waited until the weekend for various reasons. This worked out better because it gave the chance to spend the kind of one-on-one time with each of my boys.

I spent a couple of hours with my youngest son, (screen name – ‘Tumble’) looking for an art supply shop to buy some woodless colored pencils and drawing pads. We found the name of a place in Peterborough, NH on Depot Street called “Art Academy And Supply” and we spent the time just looking at all the stuff and talking about what we could do with various things we found before settling for the colored pencils we came for.

The following Friday I took my other son, (screen name – “Coppertop”) with me to pick up some Chinese food with a stopover at a local electronics’ shop to find a much needed IDE ribbon cable for my server. This gave me an important opportunity to just talk to my son the way I wished someone could have talked to me at that age. I told him about the importance of finding something you love to do that people also want to pay you for your work in that field. It’s not an accident that we live in a nice house and are able to drive new cars every few years. Mom and I have a passion for what we do and we’ve been able to find stead work because of it.

“Now’s the time to figure out what you want to do for fun, make a game out of learning; if it’s not fun than you’re going to have a harder time making things that you’re trying to learn stick. Now’s the time to build some skills like drawing, riding a bike, basics of computers, the basics about tools and building simple things like bird houses and forts… skills that will pave the way for others in the near future.”

Sounds pretty serious but I assure you I tried to keep it as light and up-beat as possible. It wasn’t as if I was only trying to instill some values into my son, but I was trying to talk to the younger version of myself in the past who was so desperate for the kind of attention I was giving to my son in the present.

Fact is, and this is a complicated emotion that I don’t even fully understand; I’m jealous of my kids because they have such a great dad… who’s me. Doesn’t make any sense, it’s too hard to try and figure out other than they’re getting all the things I didn’t get and they’re getting it from me.

It’s a bittersweet emotion. I wish I had someone, a male role model other than a couple of teachers who said; “It’s OK to be a little weird and learn things other kids don’t. It’ll all work out in the end.”

I wrote about this to an extent in my rant “Role Model” and there was an aspect I wanted to expand upon this morning…

Some of the greatest influences in my life are Ralph McQuarrie, Roger Lean, Andrew Probert and (although I didn’t know it at the time) Milton Glaser. I loved the idea that you could take art and make something real that people used in their everyday lives. I was astounded that artists used art to create places and periods in time to take people where they’ve never been before.

There was someone out there who created works of art that were printed on cans of tomatoes, billboards, movie posters, magazines and catalogs. I wanted to be one of them, as far back as I can remember.

That’s what Graphic Design is, it’s creating the greatest piece of art in the shortest amount of time for the most amount of money a client or employer is willing to pay. Anyone who says Graphic Design isn’t art is an idiot. If I had known that then my life would have been far easier since I would have had a label to use for my work.

When I was younger I used to create strange symbols out of thin air. I would get an idea and just draw it out. I would draw it out many times until I got it right. I would have folders of this stuff saved in hopes that someday I would understand what I was doing and what it was called before making a career out of it. Whatever those people did (because I didn’t know it was called Commercial Art or Graphic Design back then) I wanted to do, too.

Not just because it looked like fun, but because it’s the only thing I wanted to do and the only thing I could actually do.

I would draw symbols and logos inspired by the books I was reading or I would catch a glimpse of something random that would inspire me. At some point I was told by my elders (sans art teachers) to stop. It was foolish and childish. It wasn’t a manly thing to do. “Art is for pussies.” It must have been frustrating for them who didn’t understand the creative process, it was as if I was I was receiving signals from outer space in my head and putting them down on paper. It must have seem pretty freaky to them since this seemed the extreme opposite of ‘normal.’

I was told by my pseudo-stepfather that if I didn’t stop he would take a hammer and break all the fingers in my hand. So I began hiding my work in the strangest places like in the insolation in the basement where my room was, in glass jars and old thermos’ hidden in the woods behind my mother’s house, in secret nooks that I found along the way between school and home when I had to walk, and in my own locker at school.

At some point I had to quit in fear of getting caught. It was getting hard to keep track of all my hiding places and the stress was getting to take a toll on my creativity.

It’s been a hard long process to get to that level of creativity starting with channeling my previous self by listening to the music I enjoyed decades ago and simply applying the pencil to paper.

The damage has been done though because I’ll never know what I would have accomplished if I had been in a safe environment and a little encouragement. Even my own father wasn’t too supportive when he and I reconnected before I turned 18.

“Why don’t you draw something more real or something different for a change?” he used to ask with some contempt and confusion.

I’m in a similar position with my oldest son who likes to draw nothing but dragons. That’s his thing right now. Before he was copying the style of the Anasazi cave paintings that he saw on a documentary, and before that he was doing his own drawings inspired by Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are.” It’s tempting for me to tell him when he gets stuck in one of these phases; “Why don’t you draw something else?”

The worst thing you could do to an artist of any age or any genre is to critique, especially when they’re exceptionally young like my kids or me from 25 years ago. You break something that too often can’t be easily repaired or never fixed again.

Kids by their nature want to please, they inherently want to impress their parents and elders with the things they do. One of my most intense memories from my youth was wanting to be approved by people who should have been my mentors. I wanted my contributions to mean something, if I wasn’t good enough then tell me how I can make my work better. I needed someone like my own father to tell me I was on the right path and not treat me like I was just another set of hands to help him with his work.

Criticism kills. When we beat down our kids we are literally murdering the people whom they would have become if they were given praise and guidance. Kids like my son ‘Coppertop’ draw the same things over and over again because they are trying to perfect their craft. They’re repeating the same thing over and over again as a means of working it out of their system and trying to learn from what they’re doing each time. Just as children learn how to walk or talk by doing the same things over and over again, they learn by repetition; especially if they are trying to learn something all their own.

Spending time with my own kids and doing what we love to do has done more for me than I could have imagined. Not only have I improved their confidence I’ve also done something more for myself. I hate to use the cliché, but by nurturing them I’m nurturing the kid who I was that felt lost and abandoned all those years ago.

And I’m also getting some awesome drawings of dragons and robots in the process, and who can say no to that? Nurture your artists and don’t be worried about the ruts they get into since practice makes perfect…

Why Personal Appearance Counts

saggy-pants-computerI had this conversation with a genuine arrogant jerk a couple of years ago about how I discriminate and how I’m prejudice against certain types of people and how, as a potential business owner, I would and should get sued. But my discrimination and prejudice has nothing to do with color, race or gender – it’s about personal, unprofessional appearances.

Let’s just suppose for a minute that I put out an ad that my company – Eric Fisk CGD Advertising and Marketing – is hiring. Three people show up, one guy shows up in normal attire for a job interview with an above average portfolio and some kid wearing his hat on backwards on top of a hankie with his pants half-way down his legs has a much better portfolio; but the one with the best portfolio is genuinely odd, like a vampire – dressed in all black and his face caked with white foundation and black make up. Who am I going to hire?

For those of the people who say that I should hire the kid with the better portfolio is wrong. I wouldn’t hire him, and neither would you? Why?

Whether you want to believe this or not,  your employees are a reflection of you and your business. Their quality of work is just as important as an employee’s appearance. It’s a reflection of you and what a tight ship you run. If you let your employees look like an extra for “The Walking Dead” or a gangbanger – then what other areas of their lives are left wanting?

What kind of employer am I for letting that kind of shenanigans happen in my place of business? How your employees look and behave, how clean their work spaces are and what they overhear says more about your leadership skills than it does about them. I know of plenty of people who have lost potential clients because they allow their people to run amok, companies have lost business because someone wore pajamas to work on casual Fridays, or that someone was listening to misogynistic music in their cube.

Am I wrong? Is it fair or right that people discriminate against employees who dress odd to work? Is it wrong that a company would not hire another one because of the appearance or behavior of one of that companies employees? We could be having an argument about how the world really should be and how we should just let people (especially artists) be themselves and let them express themselves through their personal appearance and wardrobe; but such an argument would be futile.

It doesn’t matter for the simple fact that it’s the way it is and the person who writes the checks has all the power. We shop with our feet and our decisions; I chose not to shop at a specific chain of grocery stores because of the horrible attitudes of their employees and depressing atmosphere so it’s not hard to imagine that a potential client would choose one graphic design company over another. A client might just use any excuse to eliminate one potential company for superficial reasons to make it easier to choose which one to hire.

As an employer I might use the same tactic to eliminate candidates based on inappropriate attire to narrow down my choices.

Are we catering to people with money and power? You bet we are, especially when this argument isn’t just an academic exercise when we have bills to pay and a potential client has cash in hand to get a job done.

The real question is, why handicap yourself? Why hinder your potential as an artist, graphic designer, or an employee in general by wanting to make a ‘fashion statement.’ Shouldn’t you be making a statement through your work? If you want to prove to the “world” that you are an individual than do so by finishing your work with your own individual style. Make a statement by doing it on-time, under budget and better than your client or employer hoped for. And save the ultra-low hanging jeans for the weekend and the vampire make up for Halloween.

As for the jerk preaching about fighting conformity; he fell off the face of the earth and I haven’t heard from him after he posted about how he quit his job because he was tired of being critiqued for dressing like The Green Lantern one too many times. Someone told me that he’s out of the Graphic Design field and is now serving java at a Starbucks at minimum wage.