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Neither Rain, nor Sleet

Operating revenue of $68.5 billion. 700,000 career employees. Serves 7 million customers daily. Fleet of 213,585 vehicles. That is just the tip of the iceberg for the US Postal Service.

So I was standing in line, of course, for 45 minutes at my local post office, waiting to pick up a package. We got one of those slips in our mailbox that said the mail carrier tried delivering a box, but we weren’t home, so we have to pick it up at the office. Fine, except we were home all day which means one of us is lying and this happens every freakin’ time and no I won’t quiet down and yes I do want to speak with the manager again and huh? oh, sorry, right, Speak Up. Anyway, I’m standing in line, listening to my iPod and I glance over to the shelf where they sell two feet of bubble wrap for $3.95 and I see this gem: “The 6 features of graphic design that sell.” Say wuh? Yeah, you read correctly. The USPS is teaching Graphic Design.

Here are “The 6 features of graphic design that sell

The design of your mail piece has two jobs to do. One, it has to get attention for your primary offer. Two, it has to help the reader absorb the information that’s presented. Many of the desktop publishing computer programs come with templates to help. In fact, this software has created a generation of artists schooled in graphic design. Local printers usually know artists. The local telephone directory may have some listed. Also consider recruiting a design student from your local high school or college - they may be willing to help and may be reasonably priced. That said, you should still know what every well-designed mail piece has in common:

1. One thing dominates the page When you look at a well-designed page, there is usually one dominant feature to catch your eye. It could be the headline or the picture, but not both. Something has to dominate. And while it might be tempting to throw in a little starburst that says “One Week Only,” be careful how you use it. When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.

2. Minimize typeface variety Your computer may come with 327 fonts, but that doesn’t mean you have to use every one of them. The best designers stick with one, maybe two per piece - plus the logo. A good rule of thumb is to use large, bold type for headlines and, if they’re particularly good, prices. Use a smaller, easy-to-read typeface for text.

3. White space Don’t feel compelled to fill every inch of space with copy or pictures. A dense blob of type and pictures can look unattractive and turn readers away. An open and airy design is inviting and friendly.

4. Easy-to-read text Equally important as the overall design of the page is the design of specific text blocks. If the type is too small or condensed, if the columns are too wide, if the paragraphs are too long, it becomes too much work to read and people won’t. Keep this in mind when creating letters, too. Break up the page by interspersing short paragraphs with long, indenting paragraphs, using bullet points or bold subheads.

5. Use relevant illustrations The purpose of the illustration is to help draw attention to or dramatize your message. That’s not to say that a plumber has to show faucets in his mail or that a dentist has to show teeth. That plumber could, for instance, show Niagara Falls.

6. Clear, visible logo and call-to-action You got the readers’ attention and guided them through enough information. You aroused their interest and desire. Now you have to let your readers know whom to buy it from and how. Don’t confuse a clear, visible call-to-action with a big, oversized name, address and phone number. Just make sure a reader can see these elements without having to look for them. Make it easy on the eye, but hard to ignore. The design of your mail piece has two jobs to do. One, it has to get attention for your primary offer. Two, it has to help the reader absorb the information that’s presented.

Copyright � 1999-2004 USPS

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 2044 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Aug.09.2004 BY David Weinberger
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Darrel’s comment is:

Huh. That's easy. ;o)

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:01 AM
Michael B.’s comment is:

These are actually quite good, and engagingly presented, too. Well done, USPS.

Remember, improving the look of our graphic environment and getting more work for professional graphic designers is not always the same thing.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:15 AM
Greg’s comment is:

What I think is staggering is that the same post office that five years ago couldn't deliver a birthday card to my sister-in-law's P.O. box (it kept coming back "Unable to find address" or something equally stupid and ambiguous) is now not only delivering things where they go on a regular basis, but doing it better than the other two (FedEx and The-Mailcarrier-that-Dareth-not-Speak-its-Name-since-the-Redesign) in my humble opinion. Now they got the big brassies to tell people what is and isn't good design, and get it pretty much right too (if not a little oversimplified, but hey, it's not for us). Maybe mail carriers got tired of looking at the BUY ME NOW! ads on postcards.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:27 AM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Perhaps USPS realizes they have a captive audience in those horrendously long lines that usually cause you to miss the postal cut off time by mere minutes - and now for your troubles we offer a few little nuggets of conventional wisdom. The consolation prize.

Well, the more non-designers talking about design the better - so hats off. They do a reasonable job for a crib notes edition - and the more effective your mailer, the more likely you'll do future mailings with them.

Now if they only told folks where to get professional help... and didn't lump us all in the mystical "artiste" category.

One step at a time.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:41 AM
Christopher Risdon’s comment is:

I agree - any small step that might improve our graphic environment.

I don't think passing those basic principles on to people either implies that they (USPS) think they are experts (although they might), or that any person can become a design expert. Just a couple things to help steer things away from ugliness.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:47 AM
Christopher Risdon’s comment is:

Now, getting people to follow those rules, that's the next trick.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:48 AM
Michael’s comment is:

It's really hard to not be synical about this approach. But like Michael B. said, these are actually quite good.

But what makes us think it was some USPS "person" that came up with these features? I think we can all agree that it's all pretty good in being simple yet informative, so obviously the USPS hired (or deferred to in-house) talent to help them create these features.

So maybe it's just the fact that it came from the USPS, who does not seem to have a vested interest in graphic design as an entity, instead of AIGA or some such group.

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:43 AM
Jason AS’s comment is:

I applaud them, if only because this campaign has taken more initiative to acutally engage and inform the public than anything I've seen come from our professional community.

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:08 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Operating revenue of $68.5 billion. 700,000 career employees. Serves 7 million customers daily. Fleet of 213,585 vehicles.

And don’t forget that they were the sponsors of the record-breaking professional bicycling team led by Lance Armstrong—perhaps the most visible contribution to American cycling since the Southland Corporation’s efforts in the 1980s.

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:37 PM
Sam Sherwood’s comment is:

It's definitely refreshing that the information presented is actually correct -- moreso that it's theory based. I've seen info on actual design-related sites that is entirely off the mark.

On the flip side, what if the pamphlet was entirely wrong? That'd be a real treat!

All in all, I think the USPS is one government 'organization' that consistently gets design right. Now all they have to do is get their site in order (well, maybe not all).

On Aug.09.2004 at 02:02 PM
marian’s comment is:

NO! NO! Butwait! The best part is right here:

In fact, this software has created a generation of artists schooled in graphic design

The SOFTWARE has CREATED ...

???

You guys are absolutely insane. We spend hours and hours ranting about how we're not taken seriously, how people don't understand what we do, what the core value is that we bring to businesses, blah blah blah blah ...

and y'all say "these are quite good"??

on the basis that any attempt to improve our visual environment is a good thing. ????

OK, so that's all it takes right? A few simple design clues, read in 3 minutes, and the world's a better place by that small margin?

Are you nuts?

Are you NUTS??

Also consider recruiting a design student from your local high school or college - they may be willing to help and may be reasonably priced.

Yeah, because by all means you wouldn't want to hire a professional. God knows what they'd get up to.

So what is this, is it ..."OK, pamphlets and flyers, we don't really want to do them anyway, so we're willing to cede this portion of the market ... but hoo boy, they better not write anything like this about brochures or logos!"

What is the message here, people? It's "the most important thing in any direct mail piece is aesthetics, and here's how you too in 6 easy steps can create effective communications."

Jesus H. Christ!

On Aug.09.2004 at 03:03 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

JasonAS's - for reals?! You've been hanging out in a vacuum if this is the biggest step you've encountered in regards to our professional community. At least you've found Speak Up.

See a gazzillion other posts about the AIGA Why and How guides for clients, for starters, Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook, and so on - just to begin. Business publications like Fast Company, and Newsweek as well have said it much better and to a much broader audience recently.

The USPS scores a point or two here because they are bringing the issue to light among an otherwise unsophisicated audience. They still just cloud the story when it comes to explaining what a designer is. My amazement is the fact that they at least acknowledge that design adds value and solves problems. Like I said - one step at a time.

On Aug.09.2004 at 03:37 PM
Michael’s comment is:

Marion, I forgot about that one line, which I would like to think of as a typo, given the context of the rest of the features.

And I'm sure "reasonably priced" could be read as "free services". There are lots of students out there who crave real world experience and are willing to take a much lower pay point than us professionals would.

On Aug.09.2004 at 04:03 PM
Jesus H. Christ’s comment is:

Someone say my name?

I understand Marian's outrage at the comments made before the list. I especially like the whole "Chicken vs. the Egg." Software/Graphic Design student claim. I was surprised with the six points though, and thought they had merit. Actually, after I read that initial paragraph I expected the six points to read a little like this:

Step 1: A starburst says "Read Me!"

Step 2: More Typefaces=More Noticable

Step 3: Wasting space is like wasting money

Step 4: Text, why don't you bold it...moron?

Step 5: When it comes to illustrations, a picture of Niagara falls works on SO many levels.

Step 6: Logo rule of thumb; if its smaller then your thumb, who's gonna see it?

On Aug.09.2004 at 04:15 PM
Greg’s comment is:

You guys are absolutely insane.

Maybe it's just that we live in the world of really really crappy design, at least on the part of business owners who want to spend nothing and make money. Those types (the type that would pick up a pamphlet in the post office and take it seriously on something like this) weren't going to call one of us up anyway. Every time I get a postcard from an auto dealership or some inane furniture store that has gigantic BOLD CAPS from one end to the other declaring their super Huge Mega Discount Sale with all the little star thingys saying "now, Now, NOW!" my skin crawls. So it's a wonderful thing when someone stands up and says, "Hey, no one listens to that," especially someone that has little stake in it. I mean, why should the freakin' post office care? They mail it any damn way. But if it's us shouting from the rafters, a business owner says, "Ah, but you're only saying that so you'll get paid."

On Aug.09.2004 at 04:19 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Marian, why the outrage? Is it really that crazy to think that average civilians might be able to communicate effectively without us "professionals" midwifeing every last one of their little direct mail pieces into the world? In my experience, good graphic design is at least 50% old fashioned common sense, and regular people do quite well with some simple rules to follow. You just have to have a little faith.

Massimo Vignelli was always very proud of the implementation of the vast publications program he designed for the US National Parks Service. Much of it was done by untrained Parks employees who were following a set of simple, albeit very well designed rules.

Most truly awful design, in my opinion, has been done by our fellow professionals. Amateurs simply don't have the imagination, or the opportunity, to do real damage.

On Aug.09.2004 at 05:40 PM
Matt’s comment is:

Most truly awful design, in my opinion, has been done by our fellow professionals. Amateurs simply don't have the imagination, or the opportunity, to do real damage.

Ouch.

Unfortunately, I tend to agree.

On Aug.09.2004 at 06:27 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Marian, whenever I see little throwaways like this, I put them in the French Phrase Book Category. You can carry around a little phrase book, and get by; or you can move there to study the language and culture.

How difficult is it to speak French?

From "Coupe de Ville" to "Un généreux déjeuner régénérerait des généraux dégénérés".

How hard is it to play guitar?

Ramones or John McLaughlin?

How hard is it to be a designer? Well...

On Aug.09.2004 at 07:35 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

I have to side with Mr. Beirut on this one.

I remember a CommArts issue when I was in college that contained an editorial concerning the lack of common visual education. This is a step in the right direction: it's helping the helpless.

Not everyone has the budget for a graphic designer, so a little design education is in order, and few organizations have the potential reach of the USPS. Moreso, since the USPS sets standards for what makes an acceptable mailing (where to put an indicia, what room must be left for barcodes, what font sizes are acceptable, etc), I'd take the position that it's not completely inappropriate for them to give a little aesthetic guidance as well.

To take this guide for more than what it is, is a mistake. However, to undermine the fact that it might actually provide a mini-education in design is ignorant of the fact that not everyone knows these things already. More importantly, it seems like an exclusive insider's game to deny a little design education to "everyone else".

On Aug.09.2004 at 09:09 PM
marian’s comment is:

OK, look. This is an education piece, right?

What is it teaching the public?

Is it teaching them that in the realm of their crappy direct marketing material, they should get their _shit together, follow these 6 simple rules and make life marginally more pleasant for the rest of us (a good thing)

or

is it teaching them that graphic design is created by software, and that successful communications rest on a few simple and easy-to-follow rules?

further, that they need not bother themselves with professional designers (we actually aren't even mentioned. There seems to be 3 choices: do-it-yourself, get an artist, get a student.)?

I am not upset that I or any of my comrades will lose work because of a pamphlet like this. I'm upset because it seems to me that we have a well-vocalized need to reeducate the public about the role of graphic design and this ain't helping.

If the promotion of better looking materials is our mandate, then by all means this is a laudable document. But that we, on this weblog, can continually whine that our profession is misunderstood, that no-one understands that what we provide is thought and strategy and targeted implementation (not to mention years of experience), and then turn around and welcome this with open arms, just seems bizarre to me.

What is the difference between this and the $29.95 logos? Both promote better looking "design" for limited budgets. And hey, fair enough. I don't care. But I would care if people on this site started saying "Phew, that's a relief, the world will get nicer logos, and we don't have to deal with those pea-brained low-budget clients." Uhuh.

And Michael (B), this is not the same as a set of in-house guidelines designed by Massimo Vignelli for use within an organization. The message there is "Much thought and expertise has gone into the materials for the US National Parks Service. Using these guidelines you can maintain consistent communications throughout your organization."

The message here is: "No thought or expertise need go into your communication materials. Using these guidelines you can improve the look of your direct mail, and that's what counts."

That's why I'm outraged. And really I'm more outraged by youse than by them. They're just perpetuating the general (mis)understanding of our so-called profession—no biggie, it happens all the time. But why would we embrace that message?

every last one of their little direct mail pieces

OK, so was this piece actually sponsored by the AIGA on a "please don't bother us with your rinky dink _shit" agenda? If the argument can be made for their direct mail, why not their Annual Report or their identity? What, in the eyes of the public, is the difference?

On Aug.09.2004 at 09:47 PM
Daryl Campbell’s comment is:

I think that all forms of education regarding the implementation of simple graphic design rules is a positive step in the right direction.

As a designer I would like to see a massive push in the direction of simple rules to communicate effectively becoming commonplace within all of our lives.

I don't see this as a threat to our profession, the more genaral design tasks that can be implemented by various sectors of the public and professional world, the more time we 'designers' can spend on the creation and implentation of complex projects which demand our skills.

As the computer becomes a household item more people will be producing interactive and printed communication material. The more they engage with design, and basic rules surrounding deisgn, the more value will be placed on our profession.

Innovation and creativity are designers strengths, simple rules and down-to-earth education for all can only help our situation.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:03 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Okay, so what should our message be? "Graphic design is important: care about it" or "Graphic designers are important: hire us." I prefer the first approach. My knowing basic first aid doesn't diminish the expertise of, or my potential need for, a talented brain surgeon, should the time come.

Speaking of the AIGA, in the 80s they published a little book called, I think, Graphic Design for Non-Profit Organizations which was a little more methodical, but in my recollection had the same basic motivation as the USPS's handy hints. Coincidentally, Massimo Vignelli helped write them.

I have to admit, the most fascinating thing of all here is why the USPS, of all people, has come forward with this thing. Can you think of any reason other than just trying to be helpful? Or faith that good graphic design equals more effective direct mail pieces equals more direct mail pieces equals more revenue for the USPS? If so, I applaud their faith in good graphic design; there certainly don't seem to be many other government agencies that share it.

Personally, I love it when civilians do good graphic design. I have sent away more than a few potential clients who thought they needed my help and I thought they were doing just fine on their own. Maybe I do need brain surgery.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:05 PM
Matt W’s comment is:

I would like to see the education start somewhere else than in the line of the local post office. Its no wonder design in American is hardly understood by the majority when art education is one of the first programs ever cut in high school. It all starts there if you ask me. Its starts way before anyone sees that stupid pamphlet, or decides to go to college for design or before anyone owns a business that is in need of "creative" services. Is the AIGA doing anything to strengthen design education at lower levels? Our government sure isn't.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:36 PM
Greg’s comment is:

The message here is: "No thought or expertise need go into your communication materials. Using these guidelines you can improve the look of your direct mail, and that's what counts."

Nope. The message is that there are guidelines. I'd think it would help people to realize the power of design. So what if someone uses them, instead of a designer? Maybe they see improved results, and realize that if they entrusted this to someone who actually knows what they're doing, then their results would be even better.

I don't see the connection between this and the $29.95 logo, either. One is teaching a man to fish. The other is charging him real cheap for a crappy fish.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:48 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

I have to admit, the most fascinating thing of all here is why the USPS, of all people, has come forward with this thing. Can you think of any reason other than just trying to be helpful?

I have to believe there is a deeper lying strategy that helps position USPS as a "caring" industry leader. Offering something of value for nothing is really a position building strategy. By helping to make a mailing campaign more effective they assert themselves as a trusted resource, or expert in direct mail. They do set the standards for how things can be mailed and what that will cost after all, so the perception by the layperson is that USPS is an authority.

At the end of the day there is good motive for USPS to make direct mail more effective - maybe "Direct Mail for Dummies" could have been an alternate title. If you believe it is more effective, you are likely to keep sending your bulk mail via their services. Plus it never hurts to make the postman seem like your business ally as opposed to a gun-wielding madman in the making.

On Aug.09.2004 at 10:58 PM
Jeff’s comment is:

It's not alturistic on the part of the Post Office. It's absolutely in their interest for people to design better mailpieces, get a better response rate, and use more mail... or at least keep using mail.

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:01 PM
Reno’s comment is:

This reminds my of a similar feeling I had when swing dancing became really trendy. I had learned years ago due to an interest in rockabilly music, and was disappointed when it became common. It just didn't seem as "cool", not to mention the crowded dancefloors. I am aware that I'm a bit snooty sometimes.

Upon some reflection, I accepted it, and found a bright side. I will never again have to attend a wedding and watch horrible "80s music video" style dancing. (Picture Courtney Cox in that Springsteen video.)

This is a really dumb analogy, but since I finished typing it, I may as well take up a little bandwidth.

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:16 PM
Nary’s comment is:

M.Kingsley, sir. i looooove that little French tongue twister! where in the world can i get more?

sorry, i know, off topic...

by the way, does anybody know what Armin means by that thing about SpeakUp's body text and its incredibly shrinking and growing pixel?

sorry, off topic again...didn't know where else to ask.

On Aug.10.2004 at 12:13 AM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Marian, I understand your frustration - at least so much as possible without actually getting into your head - but I still think that something must be taken into consideration: the USPS has reach where graphic designers aren't. AIGA doesn't have chapters in small towns like Addison, PA (population @200) or the less populous parts of, say, Montana. Nor do many of those places have graphic designers.

However, those places do have things like small businesses, mom and pop furniture stores, the corner grocery, and the like. Those are the parties in need of something like this, because AIGA isn't doing anything to help those people out.

In the meantime, I think concern that this does some sort of damage to the profession is reasonable. But we wouldn't need to be doing damage control if we had been more responsible to the public at large. Perhaps the problem with design at this juncture has less to do with all the things we whine about and has more to do with our failure to educate everyone else. In the meantime, if the USPS wants to take a stab, I think it's unreasonable to complain: we sure didn't do anything about it.

Maybe the question we should be asking isn't "how dare the USPS?" Perhaps it's "how dare we fail ourselves in this respect, and what now?" Maybe it's time we stop talking to ourselves and start talking to someone else.

On Aug.10.2004 at 07:31 AM
Jason AS’s comment is:

See a gazzillion other posts about the AIGA Why and How guides for clients, for starters, Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook, and so on - just to begin

And I have seen these where besides the junk drawers of design studios?

On Aug.10.2004 at 07:37 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> by the way, does anybody know what Armin means by that thing about SpeakUp's body text and its incredibly shrinking and growing pixel?

Yeah, sorry about that. I had gotten some e-mails from people complaining about the text size being small. So I wanted to see how it looked biiger in OS 9, OS X and Windows. After careful consideration I authoritatively chose aesthetics over usability or readability or whatever it is that web compliants get upset about. Speak Up looks nicer in Georgia at 11 px (yes that's a fixed size, get over it) so if you can't read it, squint.

> My knowing basic first aid doesn't diminish the expertise of, or my potential need for, a talented brain surgeon, should the time come.

Good analogy, except… graphic design is nowhere near brain-surgeon-status as aknowledged by folks lining USPS offices.

On Aug.10.2004 at 08:34 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

David:

You shouldn't have to wait in line to receive paeckages at the Pony Express.

In D.C. Maryland and Virginia, we have designated Clerks to inquire every fifteen minutes or so if

anyone is picking up Parcels you don't have to stand in line. Bring your slips to the front counter.

I know this isn't alway possible. It's the way its done in D.C.

Marian:

Point well taken. I understand your views as well as Michael B. Good catch on the mistake.

Miohael B.

You're absolutely correct. I think the dissemination of the pamphelet was via the Pony Express Marketing and Communication Department.

To the rest of Speak Up Community.

I met the Chief of the Pony Express Design Department fourteen years ago. When I was a young aspiring Freelance Designer. He was the Art Director.

Thad Dilly is his name and Thad is as Gifted as any of us within the Speak Up Community. Just as knowledgeable.

Thad Dilly has worked with all the Design Gods in the Design Induatry. Either directly or indirectly.

Names to include. SAUL BASS, Bradbury Thompson,

Thomas Blackshear, Michael Osborne' Love Stamp.

(others)

Thad Dilly is responsible for implementing the Pony Express Identity System.

Commissioning CYB Yasumura Design in New York.

As well as commissioning King Casey and later Monigle Associates to implement Signage.

http://www.mutsandjoy.com

http://www.king-casey.com

http://www.monigle.com/site_pages/framesets/fs_mr-wn.html

I'm going to try to get Thad Dilly to comment on the Graphic Design pamphelet. If not I'll ask his Art Director to comment. Their Headquartered Offfices is in D.C. I'm in walking distance from the Office.

Can't promisss anything. Check back this evening or tomorrow.

Armin:

This raises my Stock to HONORARY AUTHOR

EMERITUS.

On Aug.10.2004 at 08:42 AM
Patrick C’s comment is:

For the most part I applaud them for publishing such a pamphlet. But I must agree with Marian on some issues.

Basically, the opening paragraph needs attention. It confuses terms (artists, graphic designers—can you imagine looking in the yellow pages under "Artists"???) and does suggest that software is responsible for graphic design implying that there is little beyond "knowing" the software. Obviously, the intent is not malicious, but it is a poor effort nonetheless.

There is also a Catch-22 here in that you cannot very well give people these guidelines and then tell them that the only way to get it done is to hire a professional graphic designer. That undermines the point/need for the pamphlet.

It just needs a better balance.

On Aug.10.2004 at 11:06 AM
Don’s comment is:

And I have seen these where besides the junk drawers of design studios?

JasonAS's: Well, Fast Company and Newsweek surely aren't in most design studio's junk drawers. Check your local newsstand. There are almost monthly cover stories about branding by leading publications.

The AIGA pieces I mention are in several of my clients hands, and I distributed 60 copies to a marketing group after a talk I gave. The (personal) reward is that I just landed a MAJOR piece of new biz, due in no small part to these and making the effort to take the dialogue outside of design circles. They are out there - you may not be looking hard enough. Click and receive.

>If the argument can be made for their direct mail, why not their Annual Report or their identity? What, in the eyes of the public, is the difference?

If the general public is now printing annual reports, er, well, at least someone still is. Already too many posts have gone by about $29.95 logos, and design on ebay. These folks will never be our clients. At least there is something on their level. How long has clip art been around? We're not having an endless string talking about banishing that. There's something for everyone out there and at least there is some brain activity at a rudimentary level - that is actually kind of exciting. Something is actually getting through to them - even if it is the most basic way. I say fight the good fight and continue to be as good as we can individually be. Maybe mankind really can evolve.

On Aug.10.2004 at 11:19 AM
marian’s comment is:

It just needs a better balance.

Ultimately this is what I'm saying about the piece. The pamphlet itself could use a rewrite in the first paragraph, and perhaps be titled "How to get more attention from your direct mail."

Okay, so what should our message be? "Graphic design is important: care about it" or "Graphic designers are important: hire us."

Within the minutes I have to think about this, and without a committee of designers behind me, I think our message should be "Graphic design is about more than aesthetics."

I am happy for people to receive pointers on the look of their materials, but don't call it graphic design, and don't tell me that graphic designers are created by software, and don't tell me that students are an appropriate choice for consultation.

From my perspective, I have sat through meetings and conferences and discussions (both real and virtual) that are all focussed on the same complaints

- no-one sees the value of the strategy we bring to the process

- people think it's all about the software

- (and too much of education is focussed on software)

- people think we just make things look nice (and their niece can do as good a job)

- students of 1-year desktop publishing programs are calling themselves graphic designers and what the hell did we go to school for 4 years for (and how do we continue to justify 4-year programs?)

And what I seem to be hearing here is:

- we need to further the awareness of good design aesthetic

- there is a level at which we should be happy to step out of the process

- people will automatically understand that there's a difference between what they can do and what we can do

and I just think that's incredibly misguided.

I personally am not the least bit concerned about the present or future of our visual, graphic environment. But I am concerned that in this profession there is no agreement about what it is we do and why anyone would pay us to do it.

And we sit around and bitch and complain to each other, and then when one more little pamphlet enters the world that further misrepresents our profession to the unknowing, uncaring public, and we say "this is good because at least people will realize that it's important for things to look good."

If that's our message, and that's our mandate, then we should put every effort into designing better software and templates so that the world will be a "nicer" visual place for us all to relax in without the intrusion of starbursts or Gill Sans Extra Bold.

On Aug.10.2004 at 12:24 PM
marian’s comment is:

These folks will never be our clients. At least there is something on their level.

Un-fucking-believable.

So there are at least 2 tiers of people in the world. Those who line up in post offices (and are not entrepreneurs, small business owners, or CEOs, but are, presumably merely K-Mart shoppers and check-out clerks) and are beneath our notice, and those who don't (and are CEOs and Corporate Com employees) ... ?

I absolutely guarantee you that these folks often own businesses, work in marketing departments, or hold all sorts of positions that could or should hire a professional designer. And you never know when that badly dressed, overweight mother of 6 is going to market her secret recipe for cookies and become a millionaire and a CEO. But hey, she lives in the suburbs, all she needs is a template and some clip art. She'll be fine.

On Aug.10.2004 at 12:35 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

To go to the reductio ad absurdum, then we should rail against the Food Network for teaching us how to make rum raisin pudding (It's too fattening!) or This Old House for showing us joining biscuits (It's a weak joint!) or What Not To Wear for cluing us into the evils of horizontal stripes (What about French fishermen?).

As for the template and clip art argument; aren't designers part of the problem? What's so different when we use royalty-free art instead of commissioning illustrators or photographers?

On Aug.10.2004 at 01:02 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Education has a starting point. As I am concerned, if I am not teaching 'it' and someone else does it first, too bad for me, I missed my chance... and, maybe, too bad for the student. But that also doesn't mean it's too late.

Marian, I have a question for you: if this is a problem, what do we do in response?

On Aug.10.2004 at 01:48 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

i've been in touch with the Pony Express

Brand Equity and Design Department Headquartered in D.C.

Thad Dilly is on leave. And will return tomorrow.

Frank Popandrea the Art Director

is on leave as well.

Senior Designer, Marshall Amigo informed me he will relay the information to Thad Dilly.

Depending on Mr. Dilly's itinerary; whether or not he'll be able to respond.

On Aug.10.2004 at 02:05 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Marian:

These folks will never be our clients.

NEVER SAY NEVER.

Before DUBYA made Irac an U.S. Occupied Territory.

We aired commercials that emphatically stated.

"THE U.S. BUYS ALL IT'S OIL

from Canada.

There's got to be some kind of Alliance to get the contracts.

If you can't.

BLAME CANADA, BLAME CANADA !!!!!!! (big laughs)

I've been waiting to use that for the longest time.

On Aug.10.2004 at 03:29 PM
Michael’s comment is:

But marion, how can we educate... sorry, explain to the client... no, the proper word here is educate.

How do we educate the potential and existing clients on what graphic design truly is (beyond aesthetics) unless we first get them to understand good aesthetics first?

Besides, I don't think anyone on here singularly stated that just because the USPS 6 Features focus on aesthetics, that that's the only way to educate the public on graphic design as a whole. Myself, at least, I am saying that it's a good place to start since that's what the public immediately focuses on and understands in the first place. We must begin somewhere, right? Then we can move on to the deeper issues, such as how design is more than just a pretty face... why design is more than skin deep. We can continue where the USPS began.

One step at a time.

And yes, I stand my ground that student designers are a great option for some clients (and these clients know who they are). Just because they are students does not mean that they are not good designers. I think we've all seen our share of "professionals" who disgrace the term. Employing a student is a win-win solution, since the student gains more experience and the client gains a much better solution than their own would have been (assumming and generalzing, I know but bear with me). Would the student have designed a lesser quality piece than a professional? Here's where I won't generalize and answer that by saying that it truly depends on each party (student/professional).

I say that because the client that can only afford a student can probably also only afford a $29.95 logo. The CEO standing in line will know not to use a student, and the mother of 6 will know that a student will be able to produce a better design than her niece.

But I see you're point about the USPS piece suggesting a student instead of a professional for graphic design services. But is it really their place to recommend that? Isn't it our job to get the word out, or the AIGA's?

On Aug.10.2004 at 03:38 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Dear Marian, You have taken my remarks out of context and applied them generally to the world at large.

The group I referred to, is the same group that buys design on ebay - best of luck trying to change that mindset. And I'm sorry, but clip art is here to stay. Mr Tharp did an interesting piece with clip art and quick print several years ago. I for one found it rather thought provoking. CSA has made a career of it with flushing us all down the toilet. This observation doesn't make me an advocate, nor is it sending us all straight to hell.

I'm sure chefs everywhere are pissed at Emeril, and fitness trainers resent Suzanne Sommers, but I do think the masses are entitled to a taste of what we do. I don't think USPS has ruined an entire profession. Nor do I think this discussion by a few is representative of our entire community or the "current state of design."

Re: I personally am not the least bit concerned about the present or future of our visual, graphic environment. But I am concerned that in this profession there is no agreement about what it is we do and why anyone would pay us to do it.

Universal agreement? Isn't that is how the free world works. I'm surprised you design and are not concerned. From your passionate reply, I would have guessed otherwise.

We are also the incognito group in the lines, but rather than focus on the one in a million cookie makers turned entrepreneur or lottery winners that may suddenly find they need design, or take on the ambition of Coca Cola teaching the world to sing, I'd prefer to put my energies where they will have the greatest impact and work with clients and businesses who are ready.

Until first year designer students are getting all the major identity programs, I'm going to stick to my guns.

On Aug.10.2004 at 03:40 PM
Michael’s comment is:

"Just because they are students does not mean that they are not good designers."

Let me revise my own statement to hopefully reduce the chances of getting even more buried by marion's anticipated response.

"Just because they are students does not mean that they can not produce good designs."

On Aug.10.2004 at 03:58 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Let me revise my own statement to hopefully reduce the chances of getting even more buried by marion's anticipated response.

Ditto. Please forgive the several typos.

On Aug.10.2004 at 04:14 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

I think our message should be "Graphic design is about more than aesthetics."

Hmm. If "making things look nice" is so goddamned dismissively easy, why does everything look so fucking ugly?

On Aug.10.2004 at 04:45 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>If "making things look nice" is so goddamned dismissively easy, why does everything look so fucking ugly?

That's funny; to me, everything looks so fucking mediocre.

...as in Tibor's comment in an old, old AIGA Journal that when everything is brought up to a consistant level of quality, then 'good' becomes 'mediocre'.

This thread also reminds me of another comment by Neville Brody where he saw mundane 'desktop publishing' tasks being taken over by your average secretary, thus freeing designers to become 'typographic painters'. Perhaps he wasn't so off the mark.

On Aug.10.2004 at 04:53 PM
marian’s comment is:

then we should rail against the Food Network for teaching us how to make rum raisin pudding

I think these analogies to other professions are flawed in that most people already know and respect what they do. Doctors, linguists, chefs are not, by and large, holding meetings and hanging out on weblogs complaining that they are misunderstood as a profession.

However,

Imagine you are a chef in a world where most food tastes mediocre at best, and most people think your skill is in chopping vegetables neatly and evenly.

You belong to a society of chefs where you get together and regularly complain that people don't appreciate the unique culinary experience you provide, the research you do, or the recipes you develop, but instead they complain that they could've got a better meal at home and tell you how they think you should chop the vegetables.

Then the Food Network runs a show called “The 6 features of the culinary arts.”

They say:

"Your meal has two jobs to do. One, it has to be nutritious, two, it has to taste good. Many recipes on the internet can help. In fact, these recipes have created a generation of chefs now working in restaurants. Local grocers often know cooks, and the telephone directory may have some listed. Also consider recruiting someone from your local culinary school or high school to give you some pointers. That said, you should still know what every delicious meal has in common."

(Followed by 6 good, practical points.)

WOW, you think. This is great! Finally, people are going to be able to cook better meals for themselves. Finally, people are going to appreciate that there is such a thing as too much salt!

So you take it to your chef friends and say, hey, have you seen this? And everyone gathers round and is happy.

Well I'm the chef who says, "and this will help us exactly how? Does this further the understanding that we travel the world to discover new flavours? Does this acknowledge that our unique recipes were not only developed by experience and talent, but take expertise to prepare properly? Or does it further the impression that we're really good at chopping vegetables?"

As a chef, I am happy that people will pay more attention to their food. As a chef in a community of chefs I am unhappy that the Food Network hasn't mentioned where recipes really come from or that a really good meal is worth paying for. I'm, also a little pissed about the term "culinary arts" being applied to 6 simple rules of common sense.

Despite my genuine appreciation that maybe home-cooked meals will improve, I am not in favour of rejoicing on behalf of my profession.

After years of being seen as a glorified vegetable-chopper I do not believe that teaching people to appreciate a well-chopped vegetable is a good start to them understanding my skills as a chef.

I am not storming the Food Network, nor am I blaming the Food Network for the demise of our profession.

I know that the demise of our profession lies in our very own hands.

Sigh. Enough of that.

I think we can agree to disagree here.

if this is a problem, what do we do in response?

If I were on the board of the AIGA, I'd write a letter to the USPS and say, "Nice start, we appreciate the effort, there's a few factual errors and some information we'd like you to include. Can we work together on this?"

NEVER SAY NEVER

My point exactly.

BLAME CANADA !!!!!!!

Might as well.

marion

marian

If "making things look nice" is so goddamned dismissively easy, why does everything look so fucking ugly?

Who dismissively said it was easy? Not me. You guys are the ones that are assuming that the 6 rules of common sense will lead to a better graphic environment.

AND, some days, y'know, I see a lot of beauty in that ugliness. But then, I'm a little strange that way.

On Aug.10.2004 at 08:15 PM
marian’s comment is:

If I were on the board of the AIGA,

P.S. I am on the local board of the GDC, and if Canada Post had distributed this document I would be writing the letter now.

On Aug.10.2004 at 08:22 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

I think the chef analogy is interesting. Of course, no one would buy it for a moment that there are only six things one needs to know to cook; everyone knows there's more to cooking than that. (We don't really need to go into the reason why, but I will anyway: everybody cooks or knows somebody who cooks. And everyone knows that when they go out to eat, somebody in back is doing the work. Incidentally, I happen to be 'married' to a culinary school dropout.)

Of course, not everyone knows this about design. Is it a reasonable assumption that most educated people know what graphic designers do for a living?

Or, perhaps, this is just giving people an introduction to the whole idea of design. Continuing the metaphor, consider this the appetizer, the 'amuse-bouche'. Can this whet the appetite for greater graphic entrees?

Since we're going in circles anyway, I will ask again: what are we supposed to do about this? And I'm not talking about writing a letter to the USPS. I'm asking: what are we supposed to do to educate people about design?

On Aug.10.2004 at 09:25 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

After years of being seen as a glorified vegetable-chopper I do not believe that teaching people to appreciate a well-chopped vegetable is a good start to them understanding my skills as a chef.

Marian, that's correct. I do not think the USPS piece was created to help people understand how important we professional designers are. But just to make it obvious: the only way to make people understand your skills as a chef is to serve them really, really, really good food.

I don't think they need to understand "that we travel the world to discover new flavours, " or that "our unique recipes were not only developed by experience and talent, but take expertise to prepare properly." They simply just have to really, really, really like the food we make.

We designers keep trying to find a shortcut around this, hoping and praying that the AIGA or the GDC will finally drop that magic dust on the general public so they finally realize how talented and indispensible we are. Unfortunately, that kind of respect has to be won the old fashioned way: one project, one client, one designer, one diner, one meal at a time.

Our professional organizations can help us become better designers. So can a forum like this one. But the only thing that really counts is what each of us puts on the plate the next time we get into the kitchen. If you make it good enough, six or 60 helpful hints from the USPS won't make a bit of difference...or pose a bit of a threat.

On Aug.10.2004 at 09:28 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Michael B. - yes, yes, yes and yes

Marian - I repeat:

As for the template and clip art argument; aren't designers part of the problem? What's so different when we use royalty-free art instead of commissioning illustrators or photographers?

See? We're just as much to blame.

On Aug.10.2004 at 10:01 PM
marian’s comment is:

The only way to make people understand your skills as a chef is to get them into your restaurant and serve them really, really, really good food.

First you have to teach them what you're serving, then do a really, really, really good job.

I don't know about the AIGA, but the GDC is trying to educate the public about what service graphic designers provide and get them in the door to appreciate the experience. It's not magic dust, it's a service to a profession.

I do think there is a continued misunderstanding that I am against the very concept of this pamphlet on the premise that it will take business away from the great designers of the world. I'm not. I'm merely concerned with stemming a flow of misinformation about what makes a designer and why it's worth hiring one.

I'm absolutely with you that it's up to us, individually, to prove our own worth as designers. But I absolutely believe that as a profession we need advocacy to businesses and the general public that there is value in what we do.

We're just as much to blame.

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

On Aug.11.2004 at 12:24 AM
Michael’s comment is:

Marian, here's the one flaw with your analogy:

Then the Food Network runs a show called “The 6 features of the culinary arts.”

It couldn't be the Food Network running a show like that. It would have to be something like Garden TV or something similar. The Food Network is considered to be "in the know" with cooking by the general public. The USPS is not gernerally considered, by the general public, to be any kind of authority on graphic design, but somehow has a relationship with it.

And besides, it'd have to be a pamphlet and not a show. A show could actually carry more content and explore all the background work that goes into chopping those vegatables.

And yes I am completely embarassed for mispelling your name... twice. My wife takes no small pleasure in pointing out my many many typos when she has the chance, and I usually re-read my posts three times before I toss it up here, but {excuse} yesterday I was swamped {/excuse} and when I skimmed over your name I completely missed the o for an a. The ironic thing is, when I see your name in my head, it's spelled with a lower case m and two a's in larger type.

"I do think there is a continued misunderstanding that I am against the very concept of this pamphlet on the premise that it will take business away from the great designers of the world. I'm not. I'm merely concerned with stemming a flow of misinformation about what makes a designer and why it's worth hiring one."

So is it just the beginning paragraph, or also the 6 Features that you're concerned with?

On Aug.11.2004 at 10:07 AM
Don’s comment is:

>Well I'm the chef who says, "and this will help us exactly how? Does this further the understanding that we travel the world to discover new flavours? Does this acknowledge that our unique recipes were not only developed by experience and talent, but take expertise to prepare properly? Or does it further the impression that we're really good at chopping vegetables?"

If you introduce someone to a great wine, and they begin to appreciate the nuances that make it something more than the twist top Boone's Farm alternative, you have empowered them take a first step. Helping them discover those nuances is a beginning. That they encounter this unexpectedly at a large grocery chain would be the marvel of it all. A taste is all their getting here - and, yes, unfortunately, the grocer got it wrong and said this amazing stuff is made from people stomping on smelly grapes that sit around in an old barrel. Hopefully, they will not base their entire perception of an industry on this first encounter with the grocery chain's explanation. Novice's can't get a taste from the chef and suddenly be culinary experts - the effort is valuable solely because it opens the door and adjust's their perspective.

First you have to teach them what you're serving, then do a really, really, really good job.

They should not expect to get the whole process in that one supersized sampler - it then becomes too much to digest and less appealing. Yes, that IS the job of professional organizations and professionals alike - not the grocery store, per se.

If you read the top six legal tips for getting more money in a law suit, would you suddenly feel empowered as a lawyer? Or, since we "seem" less understood, would a brochure on how to improve your public image, supplant a four year degree in business and career in public relations? Like any self-help, and "free" handout, the text may spell out a recipe, but it is still left in the hands of the reader. I'd be surprised if someone would peruse a complementary short read and then expect to be an expert.

Could it always be better? Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. Is it noteworthy that "the grocer" took the initiative. Yes, yes, yes.

On Aug.11.2004 at 11:25 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

People who watch cooking shows are more likely to go out to a good restaurant than people who don’t. Gym memberships have not been hurt by Jack Lalanne and his progeny; just the opposite is true. My guess is that people who know more about graphic design are more likely to hire a graphic designer than people who know less about graphic design are.

Knowing nothing more than the USPS rules would mean that more clients of bad graphic designers would recognize that they were getting garbage. Many professional designers should be fired (or never hired in the first place.)

If graphic designers can offer work that goes beyond these rules they are making a valuable contribution. If not, the world would be a better place if they went into a productive line of work like selling Viagra over email. It’s possible that “how to” tips threaten some graphic designers but highly unlikely that they threaten graphic design.

On Aug.11.2004 at 11:28 AM
marian’s comment is:

Michael, my analogy was based on—and a response to—Mark Kingsley's analogy. I had another, better, more controversial analogy in mind but I decided not to add any more ingredients to this culinary stew.

So is it just the beginning paragraph,

Yes, and the title. But my issue is not so much with USPS as it is with the design community (here, for now).

If you believe, as many people do (please don't make me comb Speak Up for the hundreds of comments proving it), that the public doesn't understand what we do or appreciate the value of professional design and that this is a problem, then don't turn around and embrace this document because it proves, right there in the first paragraph, that you are right.

However, if you believe, as Michael B and Mark seem to, that the only problem is your own ability to do good work, then you can embrace or dismiss the USPS pamphlet as you please, because the perceptions of the public will only change when your work improves.

Don and Gunnar:

So it's OK to tell people that software has created a generation of artists schooled in graphic design? It's fine to offer artists found in a phone book or students as the alternative to doing it yourself?

One last time, in Maven type I DON'T CARE if people make their own bloody pamphlets. More power to 'em. And furthermore, I don't think this pamphlet threatens our profession or will make people believe they can become a graphic designers based on what they "learned."

I merely think that that first paragraph devalues graphic design and perpetuates a general misunderstanding that good design is all about making things look better. And in this environment, I would have expected more reaction to that.

On Aug.11.2004 at 12:04 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

So has anyone cruised through the USPS site to the template section.

Very inspiring

Templates

You don't have to be a Graphic Designer to create a professional looking Direct Mail piece. Templates are available at the Direct Mail Merchant websites below. These sites provide templates (some industry specific) which include graphics and pre-written copy. You can work online or download them and work on your own schedule. The best part is that they are Free!

On Aug.11.2004 at 12:42 PM
Don’s comment is:

So it's OK to tell people that software has created a generation of artists schooled in graphic design? It's fine to offer artists found in a phone book or students as the alternative to doing it yourself?

Marian: No, it's certainly not "okay" to have such a botched definition and I don't think we perpetuate that sort of message, but should we shoot the messenger at this stage? I'm hoping for a Design Maven intervention through internal USPS channels.

Locally, we could write postmasters and point out designers are not in fact produced from software, any more than chefs are produced from recipes, or journalists from newspapers, but it does seem a bit self evident at the same time.

Hopefully Maven's channel is a more direct route to point out the oversight. Standing by.

On Aug.11.2004 at 12:53 PM
marian’s comment is:

I'm not saying we should shoot anyone. I'm just surprised we'd rejoice.

On Aug.11.2004 at 01:03 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

While we're waiting, it does seem that BADGERS are produced from software.

On Aug.11.2004 at 01:06 PM
Tan’s comment is:

You know, I'm always surprised at how much I enjoy standing in line at the post office. I love looking at the new lines of stamps, the postal propaganda posters on the wall, the postal pins and trinkets in the glass cases, etc. Neat stuff.

It's a little design museum of public works that exposes people standing in line to graphic design, whether they realize it or not. Sure, lots of it is crap, but some of it can be truly inspiring.

I've always assumed that the USPS has a formidable design department churning out this stuff. I've never seen a stamp that I didn't admire in one way or another.

I'm fine with this USPS initiative. Like Lester Beall's awesome public utility posters, anything that exposes the mass public to good graphic design — or in this case, tenets of good graphic design — can only be a good thing. They may not directly correlate these USPS values back to graphic designers, but I reckon that's our job.

I dunno, is it any different than the city utilities putting out materials on how to remodel your house more smartly — ie. planning for city sewer lines, gas sources, power line clearance, etc.? Somehow I don't think house contractors, plumbers, and electricians would be that concerned with such materials.

On Aug.11.2004 at 01:36 PM
Patrick C’s comment is:

I merely think that that first paragraph devalues graphic design and perpetuates a general misunderstanding that good design is all about making things look better. And in this environment, I would have expected more reaction to that.

I agree completely.

Arguing that this pamphlet is not important because the people who read it will not want the services of a professional anyway, or saying: "never-mind the pamphlet, what are we doing about educating the public?" doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You don't know who will read it or what they'll make of it. And realizing the education process is something we need address on a broader scale doesn't excuse the pamphlet's opening paragraph. This is one small thing, but we should want it to be right.

On Aug.11.2004 at 01:48 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I've always assumed that the USPS has a formidable design department churning out this stuff. I've never seen a stamp that I didn't admire in one way or another.

They hire — outsource — talented designers, illustrators, photographers, painters,etc. for that… I've always assumed that the USPS has a mediocre design department.

On Aug.11.2004 at 01:48 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>A mediocre design department.

Yea, now to think of it...you're probably right. But job security's got to be bitchin.

An aside: I wonder if USPS graphic designers have a tendency to go berzerk on their co-workers like the regular postal workers do.

Isn't it sad that the term to "go postal" has become an idiom for mass violence? I mean, what the hell? They have job security, get to wear shorts at work, get paid for sorting mail. How freakin' stressful can that be??

On Aug.11.2004 at 02:00 PM
David Weinberger’s comment is:

Sorry I've been absent from this. I thought it would also be good to point out that there is another place on their website that talks about Graphic Design. Here, you are encouraged to use a "Johnson Box"

Johnson Box. A Johnson Box is a headline technique that places an offer statement inside a rectangle or “box” made of asterisks or other graphic devices. It usually precedes the salutation in a letter. The Johnson Box is the place to highlight the benefit of your product or the savings.

Johnson Box. I love it. I absolutely must fit this in my next client presentation. It's so perfect.

On Aug.11.2004 at 02:01 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Isn't it sad that the term to "go postal" has become an idiom for mass violence?

As well:

go postal = go medieval = grave violence

Can you imagine somebody going postal on your ass during the medieval ages?

But yeah, the johnson Box takes the prize for funniest term.

On Aug.11.2004 at 02:13 PM
marian’s comment is:

Johnson Box. I love it.

This is a FUCKING OUTRAGE! How dare they use this term? It's no fucking wonder they buried it on their fucking website—clearly they're as embarrassed as they should be! Why we oughta ....

... Just kidding! (ha ha, fooled ya, right?)

I love it too, it's a gas. I love it when someone uses a term that I've never, ever heard before and then is all like, "You mean, you don't know what a Throgmorton is?"

Take your Throgmorton and stick it up your Johnson Box.

On Aug.11.2004 at 02:44 PM
Greg’s comment is:

OK, after about five minutes of laughing at the badger link (Awesome Don) and then I read this:

The Johnson Box is the place to highlight the benefit of your product or the savings.

Wouldn't that quote make a great poster? Who do I have to credit?

On Aug.11.2004 at 03:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:

(Sorry Greg, that wouldn't count).

On Aug.11.2004 at 03:47 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

OY VEY !!!!!!!!!!

Just Chiming in Guys:

Wow!!!!!! This is a Motley Crew. Who's the Ring Leader ???

I thought I was chimed into the McLaughlin Group or Bob Novak's Cross Fire.

Is Steak the Special on the Menu Today ??? I'm Vegetarian.

Just when I invited company. The Natives are restless.

Seriously, I talked with Marshall Amigo, Senior Designer at 10:00 o'clock this morning.

I've been informed he will convey my message to Mr. Dilly, Design Manager.

A reply may not be posted until next week, if any.

TAN, Postal workers are allowed vacations. Keeps down the stress.

Most important, TAN you're supposed to facilitate me acquiring HONORARY AUTHOR EMERITUS.

Not Destroy it.(big laughs)

ISSUE ONE

Don't forget the private email I sent you.

Armin:

It's wait and SEE.

If we don't get a reply. We'll keep Soldering On.

Hell has no Fury like a Rebranding Critiqued on Speak Up.

COPY THAT.

YOU READ ME.

On Aug.11.2004 at 04:47 PM
David C’s comment is:

Well Marian, I HAD to check what was on the Canada Post site. Lo and behold, they'll do it all for you! With six (count em 6) graphic templates to choose from. They also have a handy dandy 36 page guide to developing your own direct mail that never mentions graphic design once.

On Aug.11.2004 at 06:19 PM
David C’s comment is:

Well Marian, I HAD to check what was on the Canada Post site. Lo and behold, they'll do it all for you! With six (count em 6) graphic templates to choose from. They also have a handy dandy 36 page guide to developing your own direct mail that never mentions graphic design once.

On Aug.11.2004 at 06:20 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>facilitate me acquiring HONORARY AUTHOR EMERITUS.

Oh I'm trying, Maven....I'm trying. But you know, your value as guest star instead of a regular seems to be fairing quite well around here. You're like Christopher Walken and the regular cast of SNL. You know it's a special episode when Walken steps on stage.

You are the Continental, Maven.

On Aug.11.2004 at 07:27 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

TAN:

I'm laughing silly. I'm Good Company with Walken.

Looking at Reality TV. Amish in the City and something totally rediculous called The Player. Where do they get these guys ???

Pardon my Ignorance. Apparently there are no Amish Graphic Designers.

No Disrespect. Unbelievable !!!!!

I was completely oblivious to 60% of their lifestyle.

On Aug.11.2004 at 08:17 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>Apparently there are no Amish Graphic Designers.

Well Maven, my grandfather was a Quaker (but he converted to Catholicism) — first name Friend, and my father's middle name was Friend...

...so perhaps I come close?

On Aug.11.2004 at 08:54 PM
Don’s comment is:

BLAME CANADA, BLAME CANADA !!!!!!! (big laughs)

Guess we can't now, as usual they seem to do us one better with templates. Collect the whole set. Kudos to Mr. Peters and Icograda in the Great White North.

Hell has no Fury like a Rebranding Critiqued on Speak Up.

That is the quote for the winning poster. That or the USPS description of how to find a designer. Would that also qualify?

On Aug.11.2004 at 09:46 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Mark:

You never seem to Amaze Me.

Great History. And thanks for sharing. I was amazed looking at this Reality Show. Wasn't aware of the educational aspect of Amish History.

Of Course the World is aware of their Work Ethic. Second to None.

Whlie I was aware of their mode of travel. And dexterous capability of working and craft.

Completely Ignorant to the none Thomas Edison (invention) aspect of their lifestyle. Other necessities we couldn't dare live without.

I'm in Awe.

Things we take for granted like entertainment, and recreation.

DON:

The quote is Fair Game.

Armin and Byrony ultimately have the last word.

Okay by me.

If you need a confirmation letter I'll send it.

On Aug.11.2004 at 11:08 PM
Geoff B’s comment is:

Ah yes, if you haven't been properly exposed to it, here's some background on the venerable Johnson Box One of the stigmas of direct mail is this box and the formulaic approach it represents.

As far as the USPS, I think it's great they advocate white space and a limited use of fonts. Let's get rid of some of this fugly comic sans clutter.

On Aug.11.2004 at 11:12 PM
kev’s comment is:

I think I'm going to stop by the post office on my way to work tomorrow and pick up some of these babies.

If anyplace needs to be giving away design advice, it's Kinko's. I mean FedExKinko's.

On Aug.12.2004 at 03:17 AM
Aaron’s comment is:

I wish I would have read that 7 years ago. I could have saved myself all that time and money I wasted on going to school to learn graphic design.

On Aug.12.2004 at 08:54 AM
jeffrey lin’s comment is:

speaking of USPS, anyone getting those in(s)ane die-cut pieces in the mail? somehow, the USPS is allowed to send these crazycuts around but we're not . . . but lo and behold, now it is a new program to allow insane pieces of mail in, via a new branding program, check it out . .

http://www.usps.com/customizedmarketmail/campaign.htm

ah well.

On Aug.26.2004 at 12:49 PM
Doug’s comment is:

Operating revenue of $68.5 billion. 700,000 career employees. Serves 7 million customers daily. Fleet of 213,585 vehicles.........

So... Each career employee serves an average of 10 customers per day?
Let's see 7,000,000 / 700,000 = 10 Yep! Thats about how I feel when I have to stand in line for 45 mins to buy a 42 cent stamp. Nice job taking all of the stamp machines out of comission. Did it occour to any of you that revenues are down because you make it too damn difficult to do busineess with you????????

On Feb.17.2009 at 12:43 PM