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Wanted: Fierce Graphic Designers

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I’m watching Project Runway, Top Chef or Top Design I imagine that a facsimile based on graphic design would be feasible. I am not saying it would be entertaining or interesting for a general audience, just feasible. After all, Top Design, the show about interior decoration, is as lame as it can get (even though I praised its first season) on a channel like Bravo. So a bunch of graphic designers scurrying around with laptops, Moleskines and white earbuds hanging while designing two-hour logos or magazine covers doesn’t seem so far fetched. We may soon find out: C.M.Y.K. — America’s Top Graphic Designer.

The web site does little to explain when, where or how the show will be, well, shown and for now it’s nothing more than a call for contestants dangling a $50,000 prize and the promise to “launch a new chapter in their career with sponsors of the show as their clients.” No word on who the sponsors are, so you might end up designing for Glad zip-lock bags. The seven or nine finalists will be whisked away for approximately one month and a half to a house or loft in Atlanta, GA where they will face seven challenges and the judgment of “creative directors from design firms, magazines, newspapers, corporations, colleges, production companies, printing firms, and music/film celebrities.” So there you have it, that’s the premise. If you are interested in participating you can attend one of the upcoming casting calls in Charlotte, Chicago, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale and New York as long as you bring a “fierce portfolio (in print or CD) and your exceptional ‘out-of-the box’ creativity!”

I guess it’s hard to conceal my sarcasm, but I really stopped believing with the portfolios being referred to as “fierce” and creativity as “out-of-the-box.” Nonetheless, I remain intrigued by the prospect of this show and just to kill some Friday time, I thought I would answer some of the design-related questions in the application form. [Application and eligibility PDFs can be found here.]

26. What is your current occupation?

Um, you know, graphic design? I think that will work to my advantage in a graphic design competition.

34. Please list any allergies you have (medications, food, hay fever, dust, etc.) and your current treatment for them if any.

Comic Sans, Windows operating system, Corel Draw, Macromedia Freehand, QuarkXpress. I have stopped using them, the best treatment.

36. Do you have a temper? How often do you lose your temper? What provokes you?

Fuck you.

40. In the creative process, what do you like the most — creating the concept, designing the concept including choosing paper, ink, photos, etc., or seeing the final product?

I love the process of scrolling through my font menu to choose a typeface. Sometimes I close my eyes, scroll, count to ten, and whatever font gets selected is the one I use.

41. List three adjectives that BEST describe you.

Bold, italic and condensed.

42. Do you prefer to work in a team or solo?

Team, although, unlike others, I do believe there is an “I” in team.

43. As far as graphic design, what is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

Buying Phil Meggs’ A History of Graphic Design and never reading it.

46. List three items (outside of your clothes and personal items) you would take with you into the house if allowed and why?

A licensed copy of Gotham, because everything looks great in Gotham. The latest edition of the Type Directors Annual so that I can copy something in case I can’t come up with anything. A PMS 877 chip, because any design looks better with a silver metallic.

47. What type of people would you choose to have living with you in the house?

Bad designers. So that I can win.

Thanks to Meg Paradise for the tip.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 5544 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Dec.05.2008 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Haik Avanian’s comment is:

Looks like they already found America's top designer, and had them build that site.

On Dec.05.2008 at 09:59 AM
Sheepstealer’s comment is:

I’m hopeful: This is a chance to show that Graphic Designers are more than the world thinks we are.

I'm skeptical: Good Graphic Designers won’t make good television. Pouty, competitive, backstabbing, annoying Graphic Designers make good television. When I put two spiders in a jar, I'm not hoping to see how well they collaborate to come up with a cooperative solution. So when this seven-way spider fight does hit the airwaves, what will the world think of us?

Also, they’re checking for top Graphic Designers in Hollywood and not in San Francisco? I think they’ve got their California on upside-down.

On Dec.05.2008 at 10:13 AM
Bruce’s comment is:

"will launch a new chapter in their career with sponsors of the show as their clients" sounds an awful lot like when someone tells you, "I can't pay you, but the exposure will be great for your business!" Uh huh. See Armin's response to question 36.

On Dec.05.2008 at 10:15 AM
Craig’s comment is:

And not a word or hint about those of us in more digital or interactive specializations :-\

Any speculation on the network broadcasting this?

I agree with Sheepstealer's comments about most designers (good ones especially) not really being entertaining to the masses. If the selected participants are like most of the designers I'v worked with, they won't say "Boo" on-screen. If anything, we'll see arguments flair during presentation only after everyone has gone off and worked in their bedrooms for a few hours.

On Dec.05.2008 at 11:03 AM
Prescott Perez-Fox’s comment is:

Until I see a major television network's logo on that page, I'm not going near it. Smells like a half-cocked operation and those questions feel like they were lifted straight from Craig's List.

On Dec.05.2008 at 11:19 AM
Nicole’s comment is:

Very skeptical of this. I'm a big Project Runway fan, but the best designers on that show don't make for the best television, because they're busy actually doing their work.

'sides, graphic designers are already bitchy enough to each other online.

On Dec.05.2008 at 11:49 AM
Andrew Klein’s comment is:

$50,000 in cash/prizes

You get a $100 check and $49,900 in iStock credis.

dammit !

On Dec.05.2008 at 12:28 PM
Eric Janssen Strohl’s comment is:

You have to be kidding me. As if our industry didn't have enough troubles with getting proper understanding and respect.

Thanks CMYK!

On Dec.05.2008 at 01:09 PM
Robynne’s comment is:

Hi Meg! Hey Armin! I will be glued to my television set (note sarcasm). xxx R

On Dec.05.2008 at 07:11 PM
Niki V.’s comment is:

omg - thanks for the Friday laugh Armin.

On Dec.05.2008 at 08:18 PM
Pesky’s comment is:

Designers and television, I don't think, mix well as an entertainment formula: A house full of design-y fat boys in tattoos, black t-shirts and goatees...no thanks. (that generalization doesn't fairly include the women designers who ought to have their OWN house and who possibly act either far more civilized...or entertainingly bitchy).

I'd be terrible at this kind of competition - solitary, rebellious and not very entertaining except when plastered - and I would have to secretly poison all of them before being crowned top designer.

Meh.

On Dec.05.2008 at 09:38 PM
Jeff Hendrickson’s comment is:

Sounds like a ripoff of mtv's engine room...

mtv'sengine room

On Dec.05.2008 at 10:55 PM
Greg Scraper’s comment is:

I think they’ve got their California on upside-down.

Ohhhhh. All this time I've been thinking the Bay Area was the leg hole.

I always thought if they were gonna do a reality show about graphic design, it should be a "the office" style documentary. You know, to really capture the facepalm-inducing crap I (we?) go through all day. Example: today, I really truly had an hour-and-a-half heated argument about left-align vs. right-align for a table style in a book, that ended with me e-mailing the president of the company.

Wow. Never mind, our profession should stay as far away from TV as possible. Unless the show's created by Matthew Wiener.

On Dec.05.2008 at 11:58 PM
Hollis’s comment is:

Someone nailed it earlier: the website says it all.

On Dec.06.2008 at 09:35 AM
Bruce’s comment is:

I think I'll invite a bunch of designers over to watch the first episode, just so we can make [email protected] comments.

On Dec.06.2008 at 04:54 PM
reneeatl’s comment is:

Finally someone is going to recognize us! Come on gang, tell the truth, deep down inside (beyond the sarcasm) you'll watch it - at least once!

On Dec.07.2008 at 11:25 AM
akrokdesign’s comment is:

great, more bad shows.

On Dec.08.2008 at 01:59 AM
Diane Faye Zerr’s comment is:

Armin, with #36 and #42 you would automatically be accepted if I were a judge.

I can't wait to see this train wreck. Could this by any chance bring more attention to the graphic design profession (in a positive light)?

Also, couldn't they come up with a better title? America's Top Graphic Designer. WTF!? Can't we come up with a better title than something hosted by Tyra Banks? Post your suggestions!

On Dec.08.2008 at 10:48 AM
Billy’s comment is:

Everyone knows it going to look like all the garbage illustrations on iStock, a bad imitation of Chuck Anderson or a templated use of Helvetica. So sad. Just face it, no matter what happens, people will always be confused about what graphic designers do...

On Dec.08.2008 at 01:58 PM
Crystal Beasley’s comment is:

I competed in an iron-chef-meets-graphic-design smackdown called Cut and Paste. It's a live event where 8 designers go head to head in three rounds of single-elimination combat. Each round is 15 minutes long. Designs are based around a predetermined theme. No resources other than one prop, a camera, and fonts can be brought in. Four judges were brought in from well-known agencies. It was a ton of loud, rowdy fun and packed the place out.

http://cutandpaste.com/

We already have Mad Men. Obviously the public wants designers!!

On Dec.08.2008 at 07:00 PM
Zinni’s comment is:

What are the chances that the Art Institutes are major advertisers of this? I would say about 100%

just look at all the casting locations, I bet this is some sort of product placement type of show. I bet all the macs on the set will have AI logos over the apple, and the cast will just happen to have a tie in with a class at the local AI branch.

On Dec.09.2008 at 11:43 PM
Ben Weeks’s comment is:

Tibor, Brodovitch & Rand shall remain unknown. Lost in the annals of time. Forgotten in the darkness of untelevision. Remembered only by anyone who knows what a book is, has a superficial grasp of design history and is not illiterate. They are the real winners.

On Dec.11.2008 at 02:42 AM
John Mindiola III’s comment is:

If you're CMYK magazine, are you pissed right now? I REALLY want this to be a success, or at least enough to spark interest in the right people, so that there could be a good show in its place. The main question I have: how does Minneapolis, #3 in the nation for advertising, not get included?

On Dec.12.2008 at 07:41 PM
Joseph Maguire’s comment is:

I am really woeful of this idea. ( But I am hopeful too that they may do it right. )

Graphic design/Good graphic design comes out when you don’t force it. It’s natural, and a TV show will feature a day or maybe a week at most. Even the best designers can produce crap if they’re shorted on time; as in the case of everything pretty much produced on the MTV engine room show. It’s not the artists fault either, they were pitted against each other under really tight deadlines. And that show was more about the designer’s personality like road rules than it was about the individuals and the work they were doing. I don’t know if you guys/gals saw it but it was pretty much a catastrophe of work, ( the artists were good, just shorted on time and the concepts for the projects were really advertisements and it was obvious and it killed almost all of the originality. ) This doesn’t mean that everything on that show was a failure it was a first of it’s kind, and it really tested the format for MTV, I hope they change it up a lot if they have a second season. This got me to thinking…

I hope they do CMYK: ATGD right ( and this is what I would do ): Create 4 studios, and take on real design project bids for the season (rfps). I don’t think they need to finish the projects just the bids for them, they could hire a production team for the show to assist in execution. Execution of the work could be done off air and online so that viewers of the show could see the content come to life and create a following for the artists/writers!

Each team would compete for a bid ( which is one episode ). The winning team could take the cash home from the projects they won. The season showcases the team’s value and In essence showing what it means to be a team. IE winning bids require a team’s effort not one designer doing it alone. I hope they showcase copywriters as well as designers. There would be a secondary component to this format which would showcase individual quick fire rfp challenges. These individual challenges would add to the total amount won by the designer’s up with their splits from the team challenges. The end result you get someone who is both a team player and profitable on solo projects.

These are just one designer’s ideas. I just hope they don’t make a mockery out of the design industry like MTV did. I was rooting for that show up until I watched the format decay into doing websites for bands or redoing pre-made commercials.

Sincerely,
Joseph Maguire
Maguire Design Blog

On Dec.13.2008 at 11:51 AM
Joseph Maguire’s comment is:

Oh Jease, I gotta say it I am scared after the MTV engine room, I don't know if graphic design can
be done right in a TV format without being marred by commercial advertisements. C.M.Y.K.'s releasing a new TV show and is now looking for designer's to join the show, American-idol-style ( visiting some us cities to do interviews and portfolio reviews ). The name of the show is as the title suggested C.M.Y.K. - America's Top Graphic Designer

As found on on Speakup

This is my response I posted to the discussion about the future of this TV show:

I am really woeful of this idea. ( But I am hopeful too that they may do it right. )

Graphic design/Good graphic design comes out when you don't force it. It's natural, and a TV show will feature a day or maybe a week at most. Even the best designers can produce crap if they're shorted on time; as in the case of everything pretty much produced on the MTV engine room show. It's not the artists fault either, they were pitted against each other under really tight deadlines. And that show was more about the designer's personality like road rules than it was about the individuals and the work they were doing. I don't know if you guys/gals saw it but it was pretty much a catastrophe of work, ( the artists were good, just shorted on time and the concepts for the projects were really advertisements and it was obvious and it killed almost all of the originality. ) This doesn't mean that everything on that show was a failure it was a first of it's kind, and it really tested the format for MTV, I hope they change it up a lot if they have a second season. This got me to thinking...

I hope they do CMYK: ATGD right ( and this is what I would do ): Create 4 studios, and take on real design project bids for the season (rfps). I don't think they need to finish the projects just the bids for them, they could hire a production team for the show to assist in execution. Execution of the work could be done off air and online so that viewers of the show could see the content come to life and create a following for the artists/writers!

Each team would compete for a bid ( which is one episode ). The winning team could take the cash home from the projects they won. The season showcases the team's value and In essence showing what it means to be a team. IE winning bids require a team's effort not one designer doing it alone. I hope they showcase copywriters as well as designers. There would be a secondary component to this format which would showcase individual quick fire rfp challenges. These individual challenges would add to the total amount won by the designer's with their splits from the team challenges. The end result you get someone who is both a team player and profitable on solo projects.

These are just one designer's ideas. I just hope they don't make a mockery out of the design industry like MTV did. I was rooting for that show up until I watched the format decay into doing websites for bands or redoing pre-made commercials.

Sincerely,
Joseph Maguire
Maguire Design Blog

On Dec.13.2008 at 11:53 AM
Josh’s comment is:

This show already exists. Its called your every day job and has all the feel good moments of winning clients, throw downs during client presentations and more introspective "camera in closet" time than you can shake a stick at. It has the fledgling designers trying to make their mark on the field, only to be shot down and rise against adversity in a pseudo protagonist kind of way.

All without the backing of a cable network. Just like this show.

I'd be interested in seeing this train wreck on TV, but scouting for talent in Fort Lauderdale leaves me with a queasy feeling.

On Dec.16.2008 at 02:39 AM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

there are as many designers yelling "I had that exact same idea for a show" as there are lawyers who whine "I had the idea for 'The Firm' long before Grisham." I have no expectations for CMYK. I had none for The Firm. And I had none for The Sopranos. In the end, it's all just entertainment. And sometimes it's worth our time, but lately I find TV to be too desperate, and reaching too far. Net net? Creating a show for graphic designers seems far far reaching.

On Dec.22.2008 at 06:37 PM
j’s comment is:

I can't see how the average person is going to be interested in watching graphic designers on their computers for 45 minutes.

On Jan.11.2009 at 01:48 AM