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"Corel Draw, With Gradients, and Blippo Fuckin' Bold, Man!"
July 31, 2008 11:37 PM   Subscribe


 
As a designer, it's hard not to agree with Draplin, who is a great and talented guy. But a lot of the fault lies with the consumer, who balks at the idea of paying professional prices for professional work, and with the small business owner who will charge $15,000 for a simple illuminated cabinet sign yet who only pays his 19 year-old designers $9.50 an hour.

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to change something that frankly makes the project way worse. Most businesspeople don't give a fuck that Blippo, for instance, is a Bauhaus-style face and inappropriate for anything other than ironic 70s-inspired halfwit design. They think it looks neat. I've been asked to use Comic Sans in the identity of a high-end rare car dealership. I've been asked why I didn't "use the whole page" by some guy who only knows margins as they relate to his business dealings. But they write the checks and I have to eat.

America's graphic ugliness is like a fuckin' Katamari: it's so large and unstoppable by now that we've come to expect ugliness, to desire it. Check out the magazines by the checkout. Most of these are put together by people with just as much talent and way better tools than the great designers of the American magazine's golden age. But those designers aren't in charge. The publishers aren't even in charge. The parent company and the advertisers are. And they want 1,000 words on the cover, in eight day-glo colors, and Kate Winslet on a fake stick figure body, nothing truly provocative, just the star of the week, sitting there looking pretty, surrounded by a halo of text that just leads to more Shit You Can Buy.

Design's not dead. But no one would care if it were.

Well, me and Draplin, maybe.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:45 AM on August 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


Strangely, just discovered Aaron Draplin's site yesterday, and this pops up. This guy is very talented, has a great blue collar understanding and work ethic, and has some decent taste in tunes.

Shame the best shirts are SOLD OUT. I would have grabbed them right up.
posted by gcbv at 1:36 AM on August 1, 2008


What a messe.
posted by sourwookie at 2:50 AM on August 1, 2008


Draplin linked to my bicycle head tube badge collection on Flickr. Brush with fame!
posted by fixedgear at 3:51 AM on August 1, 2008


What Optimus Chyme said. To an infinite power.

I saw Draplin's rant yesterday...just as I was finishing-up some identity design work for, of all things, a small marketing firm. They supplied this wretched art that I had to prominently feature. Something someone's nephew did with markers and scanned as an RGB jpeg. For print.

The marketing wonks don't recognize just how amateurish and unprofessional the art makes their firm look. But they sure know to tell me to nudge a headline over to the right just a hair...for better balance, y'know.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:08 AM on August 1, 2008


I agree with Draplin's point, but that shot at CorelDraw was really unnecessary. Bad design is the product of bad designers -- not their tools.

For financial reasons, I relied heavily on CorelDraw throughout my design education (versions 7 and 9, if anyone cares -- the odd-numbered ones were always better). I have never regretted it. That software also saved my sanity countless times while I was working as a pre-press operator. Hell, it even got me into programming.
posted by Kikkoman at 4:29 AM on August 1, 2008


I agree with Draplin's point, but that shot at CorelDraw was really unnecessary.

I understand what you're saying.
However, throughout my own career, whenever I was confronted by horrific home-made design or low-ball, cheap crap that I was being asked to rescue, CorelDraw was invariably the tool used by the original "designer".

Even today, you can regularly find small firms where the owner decides he wants to start an in-house marketing department. So, he goes down to Staples and buys a cheap PC and a copy of Corel for his new "art director".

As unfair as Drapin's shot may seem, Corel simply has that rep.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on August 1, 2008


I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to change something that frankly makes the project way worse.

Amen. I try not to be a snob or a primadonna when I'm working, and am generally very agreeable to make any change a client wants because they pay the bills. It's either do what they want or starve. Having clients ruin good design has become so prevalent that I have a very difficult time pulling finished pieces to show new clients, because so much of it is so embarrassing.

I point my finger squarely at two main culprits: the notion that merely owning Photoshop/InDesign and knowing what a font is magically conveys design ability, and the rise of digital photography and ubiquity of digital cameras. I get so much hideous amateur photography to use in my designs that it's a near impossible task to make anything look even halfway decent. "What, doesn't my camera have enough megapixels?!"

I spend a lot of my time working with a clothespin on my nose.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:23 AM on August 1, 2008


Oh, and if they make a movie about Aaron Draplin, he should be played by John C. Reilly.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2008


Really, MegoSteve? I'd roll with Michael Rooker if he'd bulk that beard up a little.
posted by Shepherd at 5:47 AM on August 1, 2008


MegoSteve> Try being a professional photographer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:09 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm proud to live in one of the three cities in Michigan.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:51 AM on August 1, 2008


I've found that if you frame your design arguments within a business context you win 8 out of 10 of those design arguments. If you don't have a business leg to stand on for your design solution, it's a bad design.

Your arguments must be waged in the objective, not the subjective realm.
posted by mania at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2008


80% of design is client communication, if you're getting unhelpful feedback, then you're not educating the client on the value of good design.

Secondly, leave Blippo alone, I believe it was Robert Bringhurst who said, "There are no bad typefaces, only ones you know how to use or don't know how to use."
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:46 AM on August 1, 2008


Secondly, leave Blippo alone, I believe it was Robert Bringhurst who said, "There are no bad typefaces, only ones you know how to use or don't know how to use."
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:46 AM on August 1


First of all, Bringhurst himself said "I once believed that there were no bad typefaces, just misunderstood ones. I am no longer so sure when I see type [designed by] Zuzana Licko." (And I'm a fan of Licko's work, or at least was at the time.)

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm sure there some project that just won't be right until it has been blessed by Blippo. But there are ten thousand times as many projects where it's among the worst choices. And if there are "no bad typefaces, only ones you know how to use or don't know how to use," then I challenge you to go a whole year using only free releases of type designed by amateurs in all your work, art, and correspondence. Let us know how it goes. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:03 PM on August 1, 2008


Heh. I really just logged in (after several years of lurking on MeFi) to say that my twin and I used to hang out with Draplin in high school. And that his dad is one of my most favorite people in the world. It's been a few years since I've seen Draplin (my brother is a closer friend to Draplin than I am), but we chat on AIM every now and then. Draplin in a super talented guy; he deserves the attention he's finally getting (Photoshop Tennis, Draplin project, etc.).
posted by mrbarrett.com at 8:51 PM on August 1, 2008


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