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True Confessions

So, um … have you ever used your design skills for evil, instead of good?

Or, well, maybe not evil, exactly, but just not really … shall we say, on the up and up.

For example, forgery.

You see, I have. And I have to say that it is one of the most satisfying design tasks I have ever undertaken. I’ve done it a few times, actually.

I used to live in a neighbourhood where parking was brutally restrictive, and essentially impossible without a neighbourhood parking sticker. Now you could just scan one I suppose, but it’s much more empowering to analyze and measure the type (though not much analysis required, it’s always Helvetica), and lovingly recreate the document. Our stickers one year were blue hexagons, and another were white triangles. Oh the joy of achieving proportional perfection, color match and … the finishing touch: just the right degradation and misalignment on the identification number. I then trimmed and mounted them to clear acetate so that when pressed against the inside of a window, they looked like they were peel-n-stuck on. Parking passes for all my friends!

More recently I made, for an unnamed person in an unnamed location, a sticker certifying inspection of their propane-powered vehicle (said person having my confidence that their vehicle is, in fact, well-maintained). For this illegal act, I worked from a digital photo and some measurements taken out in a field with a crude ruler.

I also took a close look at the original sticker and interestingly, the thing looked like it had, itself, been scanned from some 3rd-generation photocopy.

My forgery was a masterpiece of deception. It had little tear-off year-dates at the top, which i perforated by hand (exacto, to be extact), the completely degenerate government logo, the ubiquitously jumpy ID numbers, and best of all, I made two versions: a clean one, and another one that I scanned twice, making it identical to the original in its pathetic lack of resolution.

Said recipient, who may or may not be a family member, was more impressed with my execution of this little sticker than any other piece of design work I have ever shown them. It was a “Wow, you’re really good!” kinda moment. The kind where you buff your fingers on your shirt, blow on them and say, “Yeah, well …”

Skill, baby.

(I think I will not tell you about the friend, the wife, the escort agency and the VISA bill, except to say that it was not so successful, and a divorce followed …)

The pleasure in these small acts of subversion are 1) subversion and 2) copying to the last detail. Getting it right. There is no subjectivity; no like or dislike. It’s either right, or it’s wrong, and it just feels good to get it right.

Now, as a responsible designer and citizen, I am compelled to remind you (especially all those of you with such young, fresh ears and eyes), that the tales I have just imparted are illegal acts, possibly punishable by years on some miserable chain gang or who-knows what or where … and neither I, nor this website, condone illegal activity under any circumstances … oh no. On the contrary, I strongly encourage you to use your design skills only for good, and not to step upon the slippery slope of which I am already slidden half-way down.

Now if you will excuse me, I must return to my samples of irridescent foils.

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ARCHIVE ID 2186 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Jan.18.2005 BY marian bantjes
Allan White’s comment is:

I haven't...at least since college (also parking stickers). But I want to. I want a box of passports like Jason Bourne. Just in case.

On Jan.17.2005 at 11:27 PM
Justin Heideman’s comment is:

Call me crazy, but I think that this kind of helping someone get around levels of bureacracy every now and then is a good act.

Working for some big evil company... monsanto, microsoft, phillip morris... That's using your design skills for evil.

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:47 AM
Nick Fr�hling’s comment is:

I just can't bring myself to throw away the parking pass of perfection I made back in my hazy experimental Illustrator 7 days in high school. I still have it in a box in my office because it was just so well done and so cool.

Whether anyone actually thought an old Volvo station wagon with dice in the mirror was actually a teacher's car, I can't say. If only my design prowess could have made my car look like a Porsche...

On Jan.18.2005 at 02:29 AM
she-devil’s comment is:

let's just put it this way--one of those state issued forms of identication that allow you to drive, and in the case of my (very, very slightly) underage brother...*sigh*...to buy beer in a 7-11.

and no, my folks and the fed do not know about this. would very much like to keep it this way.

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:36 AM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

I made a $50,000 bill once for a prop. When that thing came rolling out of the printer 10-up (this was circa 1990 before all the smart chips and software that prohibit such shenanigans) we were genuinely scared. It looked too good.

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:40 AM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

There isn't much that I'm willing to admit online, though all I can say is that the older generations had it a lot easier than the design kids now. When I was in high school ten to fifteen years ago, you'd hear stories in the graphic art classes about older enterprising student making id's for the weekend. That's way tougher to do now.

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:52 AM
franz’s comment is:

I have built several very convincing interpretations of my student ID for friends and family.. So that they could come visit me and wouldn't have to pay for riding the subway and busses around town. It did take some time, but I wanted to get everything right, down to some variance in the barcodes used for checking out books from the library.

I scanned in my copy, hunted down the typefaces (that's where all that training from the Typophile ID board comes in handy) and rebuilt the entire thing in Illustrator.. It's a lot more fun than it should be. And that satisyfing feeling you get when you see your interpretation working just as well as the real thing.. Priceless!

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:53 AM
sheepstealer’s comment is:

Like I'd admit to anything on a public site like this.

I have used my design skills for evil many times. I've letterspaced lower-case letters. I've built documents in inches instead of picas. I've bought royalty-free photos at the lower res, cheap version and sized them up in PhotoShop. I've snuck in tiny Chalet when client brand standards required Helvetica. At this very moment I'm being lazy and using the foot mark instead of the apostrophe. And one I'm really not proud of, I've horizontally scaled type down to as small as 97% to cheat in some difficult copyfitting instances.

I feel remorse. I have set goals to do better. Thank you Speak Up (and Marian) for giving me the opportunity to get this off my chest.

I feel cleansed.

On Jan.18.2005 at 11:08 AM
marian’s comment is:

but I wanted to get everything right, down to some variance in the barcodes used for checking out books from the library.

I think this is where the fun really comes in, is attending to those details. Like I say, you could just scan the thing, but it's the meticulous building that brings the joy and the pride.

On the weekend I mentioned to a friend (a former designer) that I was preparing this post, and his eyes lit up at the subject, and he immediately rattled off a tale of a forged driver's licence and the care he took to make it.

I think if I had unlimited access to a printing press things might get a little out of control, just because it's so much damn fun.

On Jan.18.2005 at 11:16 AM
Armin’s comment is:

I can admit this publicly because I have already admitted this to my parents:

I was a terrible student in high school, every quarter my mom would have to come in and see the dean because I was being put on academic probation and they would threaten to not let me in next year if my grades didn't improve. My dad was, of course, not too happy with my slackery. I made it through high school with really low grades, but enough to get admitted into college. I vowed that I would do much better in colllege, now that I was studying something I was actually interested in. So when I flunked one class in the first semester I could not face the paternal anger that was bound to ensue. Given my flunkage abilities my dad demanded to see my college grades — I was still living under his roof and he was paying for my education, so he had every right to ask — so my only option was to make a forgery with a passing grade on that one, stupid class. It was one sheet of paper set in orange courier, because these were typed in those old electric typewriters, so achieving the texture was essential. After a couple of passes in a color photocopier I had a replica of my grades and saved myself a spanking… no, not really, my parents didn't spank me.

Parallel to the excitement of "getting it right" is a terrible, nagging paranoia of getting caught, which I guess makes it all the more exhilarating. But the remorse, my god, the remorse…

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:12 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Although it would not be inconceivable to think that, back in ancient times when a California driver’s license was in black and white and had no security seals of any sort, I would have made an altered-D.O.B. copy for a friend so he could sign up as a guinea pig and smoke dope in a lab at UCLA for a month and get paid for it, I do not confess. I’m sure the statute of limitations has been up for at least thirty years and I’m not going to be nominated to the Supreme Court anyway but I do not confess.

As the semi-adult here, I should note that forging of identification documents of any sort has significantly greater ethical and legal implication than it used to and it would be very easy to have an accident (say, the explosion of a propane-powered vehicle or of my friend’s head) bring a shit storm down on someone who saw forgery as merely an interesting technical challenge.

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:12 PM
The Darth of Design’s comment is:

Oh, yeah!

I had a friend who couldn't get car insurance because his title was destroyed in a wreck. He couldn't get a new one because his girlfriend had given him the car, and so he was stuck in limbo.

He sent me the scraps left from the remains of his glovebox, and while waiting for the bodywork to finish, I made him a beautiful new title. Suddenly he owned the car free and clear!

It was a challenge, and I spent about a week playing with different papers and just how much tea to soak it in, but he had to hand over the results to a clerk and it passed without her noticing a thing! Whoo ha!

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:20 PM
SlightlyNaughty’s comment is:

Design magazines often offer a cheaper student rate and since I haven't been a student in awhile (and no one wants to pay for all that advertising anyway) I have become rather adept at forging student IDs in order to qualify for the cheaper rate. And you know what? It feels good when you achieve that perfect fake.

Not that I'd advise anyone else to try it, of course - some of these magazines might get wise and then where would I be? OOps, I mean you shouldn't 'cause it's BAD!

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:33 PM
Daniel’s comment is:

hmmm, confessions; I worked out some proof of insurance for a mate once (I'll spare you the details). I also created a twenty dollar bill that Taco Hell accepted in return for...well, some tacos.

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:45 PM
Mason Gentry’s comment is:

Several years ago I created some fake drivers licenses for myself and 2 friends. The quality was lacking (library card plastic) but amazingly they got us into the Viper room to see Weezer.

Good times.

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:47 PM
Brent’s comment is:

I too have forged many parking permits. Starting in high school I "upgraded" my temporary sticker to the prized, year-round kind only given to the jocks. After that I went on to save myself hundreds (yes, they were about $250 a year) in college by making fake ones. I think that we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of our skills and save a little dough. I've never been caught either.

Although, this reminds me a little of the story The Imp of the Perverse, if you're gonna do bad things, keep your mouth shut.

On Jan.18.2005 at 12:56 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

In the spirit of sheepstealer, I too will confess to designing the packaging for the soundtrack of the 1993 version of "Gypsy", starring Bette Midler. The cover photo and lettering were a given, but still...

And I put our name on it — out of a perverse sense of kitsch.

I also used to design gararge-rock compilations that had questionable clearance issues. In that spirit, all the images had similar provenance; plus no production credits or addresses were present.

On Jan.18.2005 at 01:14 PM
Michael Holdren’s comment is:

> (I think I will not tell you about the friend, the wife, the escort agency and the VISA bill, except to say that it was not so successful, and a divorce followed …)

Sounds similar to a story of mine that happened recently, and this was for someone who worked in a government agency (the law enforcement kind of branch).

The guy had been fooling around on his girlfriend, and almost got caught. It was at this moment he had an epiphany and realized he wanted to marry his sweetheart. But first he had to get off the hook—she insisted on seeing his cell-phone bill. Fortunately for him he usually downloaded it from his providers' website as a PDF.

The techinical hang up was that in order to be able to edit a PDF's type you have to have that typeface installed on your machine. However, there's an instance where (and I don't exactly recall at the moment why this happens) the fonts embedded will be assigned a unique name that has nothing to do with the real name of the font. So, even if you have the font, it's not recognized by Acrobat Professional. And there's no way to substitute fonts in a PDF.

So I took each page from the invoice and imported them as layers into Photoshop, and copied and pasted the numbers I needed over the ones that needed to be changed.

Not too difficult on the technical side, but very time consuming. There were 37 pages and well over 50 instances of the incriminating phone numbers (there were more than one).

Fortunately I had the time to do this, and it helps to have one of these kinds of folks owe you a favor. I've been meaning to follow up with him to see if it worked.

On Jan.18.2005 at 01:36 PM
Ben Hagon’s comment is:

I once forged a diploma certificate for an immediate family member!

Now before you light the torches, he had just lost the original and needed it for his mortgage! I wasn't making up credentials for him.

It was fun to redraw the school's logo. Thank goodness they didn't have a fancy decorative crest. The rest was simple, I can't even remember the typeface, (Probably Times or Helvetica) but I do remember it was centred.

On Jan.18.2005 at 01:38 PM
sonyl’s comment is:

Interesting how many forgeries deal with transportation... several of my friends have used their design skillz for parking passes or bus passes.

Could it be our way of getting back at what we believe to be unfair restrictions, � la hackers/phreakers making Red Boxes and the like to get around long-distance phone charges, which they believed should be free?

On Jan.18.2005 at 01:45 PM
David V.’s comment is:

we forged NY state ID's when we were in high-school, surprisingly successful I must say, but that was right before the age of holograms. We also tried printing counterfeit money but failed miserably. Luckily we tried the forgeries on our friend the barista at the local cafe before going live, and found out just how crappy they were :} After graduating from college I forged the semester stickers that went on our college id's, so I could keep getting student discounts, but that didnt involve much in the way of design skillz...

On Jan.18.2005 at 02:18 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

Am I the only goody-goody?

I'm racking my brain HARD and I can't think of anything like this. Could be that my parents are both ministers and as a child I lived in perpetual fear of 'messing up." And in college I was too anally retentive. It's just as well.

Of course, those days are gone, but I still can't think of any instance of forgery or anything of the like. Good god, I'm in the company of theives and felons!

On Jan.18.2005 at 03:02 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Andrew, I'm right there with you in this dull purity. And my dad was a minister too.

Once, I stole a telephone headset from a Getty comp and put it on a picture of Lenin for an ad. The client didn't buy it, so I used it on my website for a while. But that's hardly interesting.

On Jan.18.2005 at 03:36 PM
Hex’s comment is:

It started early on with the fake ID when I was below the legal limit in order to get into all the hip establishments. Thinking back on it now... that might have influenced my decision to enter this industry.

I thought that I was soooooo clever in college, whipping up a parking permit (pre-computer boys and girls), but apparently not as original as I thought, based on the other confessions read here. However, am I the only one who sold them to other students? Not only did I save money, but I built a little beer fund on the side.

Later on, recalling how easy the parking passes had been, I helped some friends doctor some "reference" letters. Making legitimate letterhead had never been so satisfying. Best clients I (n)ever had.

On Jan.18.2005 at 03:45 PM
Dan McGorry’s comment is:

My college roommate and I crafted some fake tickets for a Beastie Boy show in the early 90’s. We made the color copies on a self-serve machine at the library for $1 / each side, put them together with rubber cement (risky, I know) and single-ply bristol, then carefully cut each of the perforations with an x-acto knife.

Three of us got into the show with no problem and managed to have great time for the low cost of $2 and an hour of arts and crafts time.

On Jan.18.2005 at 03:58 PM
Charles Martin’s comment is:

Andrew/Jeff, same here... mostly due lack of motivation and fear of hell-fire (not really, but you haven't seen hell-fire until you've seen my dad get mad).

Although we do see to grow up with a peer group that seems reckless, I think we'll find that most of this same peer group wouldn't dare do anything to harm someone and, in most cases, won't repeat this stuff again for fear of destroying their successful careers now. I know that I personally make sure as a web developer I have all properly licensed software so that I have no fear of that interfering with my career.

It was rather fascinating how many used their skillz for relatively harmless forgeries.

On Jan.18.2005 at 04:06 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

I live such a DULL and mundane life, I can't compete.

The best movie I've seen on the subject of Forgery is "To Live and Die in LA" starring Willem Defoe.

If you haven't seen it Rent it. You'll love it, if you appreciate that Genre of Movie Making.

Great movie, and really showcases the Designer and Printer skills. Although certain steps were left out of the process, of making money.

Dare to Dream !!!!!!

In the Good Ole days,circa 1972-1981 I could've became a Millionare Designing and Silkscreening Rock Stars Tee Shirts. During this era Stars were not interested in copyrighting their image and itellectual property. Many did not manufacture or produce Tee Shirts for their Concerts. It was always the enterprising Designer/bootleggers, whom got wealthy off the imagery.

Somewhere between the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, YES, David Bowie, and the Jackson Five.

Celebrities became aware of the power of the Brand. Soon followed arrest and suites of Designer/bootleggers selling Entertainment Memorabilia.

Those were the Good Ole Days, somewhere in me was this little angel. That informed me if I committed this act, somehow I was using my GOD Given Talent in a deceitful and dishonest way.

Meaning, creating wealth by


The Good Guy in me asked the question. Suppose the roles were reversed. That was enough for me.

I often think to myself and say, "you damn fool". "Could've got away clean".

Aware other(s)of my Generation became quite wealthy from their Rock Star Tee Shirts

I'm content knowing. I had the draughtsmanship to pull it off. Just didn't have the heart.


That's all I'm Fessing up to. I take the fifth on everything else.

On Jan.18.2005 at 04:07 PM
Jemma’s comment is:

well well well, I am in good company then.

Since finishing college I've been in that special income bracket where I'm too poor to be able to afford nice things like gym memberships etc. but not poor enough to qualify for the subsidies available. So quite often I've forged bank statements, paystubs & rent receipts in order to be elligible.

So far it's gotten me a gym membership for $22 a month at a gym where the regular fee is $60. And it got the student loans people to stop calling me. :)

But I have yet to do a parking pass - that'll have to be my next project!

On Jan.18.2005 at 04:26 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Yes it started early - and as a measure of exactness in honing technical skills. NY license/ID’s in high school were paper then with no photos - not much of a challenge when you look back on it. But I was always willing to share my early talent with friends in need. It was fun to match the old dot matrix text after lifting the old dots off with a crisp new Xacto blade. A very sharp No. 2 pencil worked best with a little workable fixative to finish it off.

The best cost saving measure was in college in Philadelphia - but all of this was right around the birth of Illustrator 88. So hand skills were what counted. I used to color match a guoache base each month, and then hand comp the month, logo and relevant data with pens and on the front of city trolley and bus passes to ride for free - and save a whopping $60 a month. The backside magnetic strip was from old cards and spray mounted together. The foil tape was the tough part - these didn't stand up to close inspection and I just used a shiny 3M cellophane tape. But they worked for two years.

Again, feeling the need to share I would offer extra verions (I'd usually do them 6 up) for about $10 apiece. No warranty. Just a use at your own risk policy.

A non-design bonus: Dollar feeding slots in soda machines respond to any texture (they used to anyway). A bottle of liquid squirted (water) in the feed slot triggers the rollers to pull - when they don't grab anything they keep rolling. After they roll a certain distance the machine acts as if money has been fed in - continuing to give you soda credit and also dispenses change. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Water evaporates - so there isn't even evidence. No forgery required.

On Jan.18.2005 at 05:08 PM
DC’s comment is:

My forging days started before personal computers were in every home, and before I even knew what a scanner was.

First, I created a registration sticker for my car because it wouldn't pass inspection due to its old age and my lack of maintenance skills. I created it with a ruler, shiny packing tape, and a bright blue Prismacolor. At the time, I was a meticulous young artist, so it was no big deal. And it worked fine.

Secondly, I used my fine hand-drawn typographic skills to alter my report cards on a regular basis. An X-Acto, a good mechanical pencil, and a magic eraser did the trick back in those days.

The biggest con-artistry of my career came during my years at Spy Magazine, where we would stage elaborate, multi-leveled pranks on the public and on various famous people. We would create a fake company, design stationery and cards, make fake uniforms, and just about anything else, have it printed and built, and give it to the author/prankster to stage an elaborate fake-out. We did just about anything you can think of, and the pranks always worked due to the level of detail that went into our designs. One year, during the Democratic convention, we spent a week meticulously creating a fake New York Times page one wraparound (front and back page, and page A2 and the Op-Ed page). We researched every last detail and had it printed on the same newsprint. Early on the first morning of the convention, we dispatched several young, mischevious, Ivy League-educated interns across the city to secretly replace the front pages of every free New York Times sitting outside the doorways of the hotel rooms where the conventioneers were staying, and later on they handed out more fake papers on the convention floor at Madison Square Garden. The best part? It worked. Our "news" stories about Oprah running for VP and Clinton playing his sax in the Times Square subway station (complete with fake photo) made the morning news on all major networks. Imagine my joy at watching Tom Brokaw announce Oprah Winfrey's candidacy for the Vice President of the United States. Brilliant.

Evil, or just plain fun?

On Jan.18.2005 at 06:04 PM
marian’s comment is:

Evil, or just plain fun?

Brilliant! Yes yes yes! Now this is some serious fun. The art of creating a good parody is also getting it exactly right.

We researched every last detail and had it printed on the same newsprint.

I envy you this. I really, really do.

On Jan.18.2005 at 06:14 PM
Anon_Dznr_31’s comment is:

I have used Photoshop to manipulate my IDs to qualify for certain membership perks or discounts. Tweaked the type, added some layers, added scuffing and fading — the works. I also learned compositional, and calligraphic techniques and notions of legibility in my high school years as a graffiti artist.

On Jan.18.2005 at 06:32 PM
DC’s comment is:

Two other Spy pranks just came to mind:

When Dave Letterman launched his new CBS-based Late Show, we created a super-glossy promotional kit celebrating all of the "fun" new characters and features on his brand-new show -- it was full of absurd, inane ideas for the program, alongside faked photos, a fake stage schematic, and "quotes" from industry people about what a fantastic show it would be because Dave was being paid so damned much to do it. We created stationery, a press kit, staged a phony P.R. campaign (complete with a fake agent who made calls throughout the entertainment industry talking up the ridiculous new features of the show) and we sent packages all over New York City and L.A. Of course it worked a little too well, and we got into a bit of trouble for it and our editor had to apologize and grovel to Dave.

Another prank involved a fake 8x10 glossy of a gorgeous young "model" who claimed she was an admirer of Garrison Keillor (of Prairie Home Companion fame) and of the legendary Wilt Chamberlain. We created fake "girlie" stationery and wrote fawning letters to them both prior to their scheduled visits to Manhattan. We set up a fake phone number and outgoiong voice message which rang at the intern's home answering machine. The letters requested a private meeting with each of the stars, and each letter included the 8x10 glossy (which I had taken of the intern's friend, an actual teen model), and a phone number. Needless to say, the results were terrifyingly sleazy, and all messages caught on tape were played throughout the Spy offices with glee. Surprisingly, Mr. Keillor proved to be quite, um, perverted, but not nearly as perverted as good old Wilt. Now that was a man with libido.

I'll spare everyone more prank stories. Suffice it to say we had some great fun with our design skills.

On Jan.18.2005 at 06:33 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

I also learned compositional, and calligraphic techniques and notions of legibility in my high school years as a graffiti artist.

To go one step further back. I had forgotten about forged pads of hall passes and excuse letters from Mom to the school. Only got caught once... Ahh, the Power of Design.

Is that design for evil, or a symptom of a designer in the making?

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:25 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Wow. DC wins. How can you beat a Spy mag prankster?

Design for evil. Hmm.

I did the usual in college — parking stickers (harder than paper tags), and the occasional counterfeit $20. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I made "lifted" bills before I knew that it was a legit scam — more for fun and experimentation than actual evilness. It was sort of easy — just soak a dollar bill in bleach or photo fixer until the ink dissolves. Then scan in a new $20...and the rest is self-explanatory. The hardest thing to fake for currency is the feel of the currency paper — so use the real thing, and no one ever suspects.

Just for the record, in case secret service is listening, I made that all up.

Workwise, I inadvertently used my design skills for evil gains once. A few years ago, my firm was hired by a guy claiming to be a successful sports agent who owned a legit agency. He found us through a trusted referral, and he had the credentials, the contacts, and paid all of his bills. So naively, we created these beautiful identity and marketing materials for him — winning numerous design awards in the process. Well, it turns out that he was a complete fake. He used our materials to secure a number of pro players, even garnering them legit endorsement contracts and media appearances. But just as he was about to pull it off, he got greedy and scammed some of the money for drugs and personal toys. Some of the scammed sponsors got wise, called the authorities, and the gig was up. We had no idea he was a scam artist until we saw him being hauled off to jail in the evening news. Go figure — like I said, he always paid his bills, at least with us.

I'm sure I've done more evil...I just need some time to recall....

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:28 PM
Starlight’s comment is:

This one place that I used to work for slinging drinks wouldn't let you take off work sick, unless you had a note from the doctors office. Needless to say, I created a fabulous letterhead for a no-name doctors office and took the weekend off. And any other desired vacation since!

I think I did the doctors note thing another time, when the only way to get out of wearing dorky hats at work was to have a "doctors notice" that you couldn't because of a skin condition or something. Yeah. I don't wear stupid hats.

My next project is to mock up a parking ticket to put on the cars that park in my lot so I can't get out. If only I could get a hold of one without getting a ticket myself... hmmm...

On Jan.18.2005 at 08:51 PM
Robynne Raye’s comment is:

In the mid 80's, my business partner Mike Strassburger once made me a fake National Geographic Photographer press pass. I needed it for a 6 month trip through Europe and Asia. Back in those days, the X-ray machines could harm film, so I thought the official ID would come in handy.

The best part: I used the fake ID to secure cheaper, professional film prices at the local "cool" photography store (Glazers). You should have seen the look on their faces when a 23 year old woman was in their store, as an official National Geographic Photographer! Before that incident, they pretty much ignored me. Pretty funny since I originally used it as only as ID to write a check when I had forgotten my driver's license.

On Jan.18.2005 at 11:55 PM
Héctor Mu�oz Huerta’s comment is:

Well, I have to admit I have never forged anything and fell ashamed about, so to reivindicate myself I’ll fake an student id to get a 50% discount on buses on next vacations.

On Jan.19.2005 at 12:08 AM
Bill Kerr’s comment is:

Fake South Dakota ID's in the late 90's (since they were the last state to include a hologram).

Oh, yeah.... for the record... I made that up.

On Jan.19.2005 at 01:16 AM
ben’s comment is:

as art students we always sat at the lunchroom table near the fraternities and sororities but always just watched them. we thought they all looked the same. we called them the abercrombie army. then we came up with this idea to be the anti fraternity organization. so we printed these huge posters that said: AAK really big like that was our frat name and then we put below it ' an anti-fraternity organization'. it was funny because we put hundreds of these things up. they measured about 36 x 24. and people wanted to know who was doing it.

the abercrombie army killas. our little ideal killa

On Jan.19.2005 at 09:08 AM
Evil Designer’s comment is:

My next project is to mock up a parking ticket to put on the cars that park in my lot so I can't get out.

That is a fantastic idea! I love it! I'm going to have to try that!

On Jan.19.2005 at 09:36 AM
Armin’s comment is:

I think Marian has been going undercover for the past year as a "designer" and "illustrator" but is actually an FBI operative cracking down on designers creating fake IDs and parking permits and infiltrated Speak Up with that sole purpose. And she finally dupped us in going on the record. Well done Marian — if that's even your real name.

On Jan.19.2005 at 12:28 PM
marian’s comment is:

Damn! And my next post was going to be titled "Enhance : Designing under the influence", wherein I would have "confessed" to the use of psilocybin as my creative influence of choice. After that I was planning a crafty little post entitled "Kill the Client" ...

But now that Maven Armin has blown my cover, I guess I'll just wander over to Design Observer and see if I can trick William Drentell into confessing to running his own electrical without a permit.

Meanwhile, I have your email addresses.

On Jan.19.2005 at 03:13 PM
glycerin’s comment is:

Briefly, as a practical joke, creating fake Texas State Bar letterhead and writing a letter to a new lawyer notifiying him that his arrest record has recently been discovered, and that he is banned from practicing law in the state of Texas until further investigation could be completed. (His wife's idea, not mine...) It worked too well. Yes, he freaked out. Yes, everyone apologized.

On Jan.19.2005 at 04:08 PM
Mitch’s comment is:

I used old-skool Letraset letters applied to my underage RI Driver's license to make me old enough to buy case after case of Milwalkee's Best bottles when i was at Syracuse Univ — ahhh the magic of cheap bottled beer. And the magic of Letraset. And the magic of being one of the very few Freshman with a fake ID.

I do think my most heinous and punishable design crime is stealing EPS logos from Brands of The World to make a shirt for a friend's business who wanted it "to look just like the Harley-Davidson logo, only like, with my company name on it. That would be cool!" Or it would be intensely lame. I think i deserve to be flogged for that indiscretion.

On Jan.19.2005 at 04:51 PM
marian’s comment is:

I think i deserve to be flogged for that indiscretion

ah yes, whatever happened to good, old-fashioned flogging? Gone with Letraset, I suppose.

On Jan.19.2005 at 05:09 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Maven Armin

I want to know what this means.

On Jan.19.2005 at 05:24 PM
von K’s comment is:

In high-school it was the surprisingly simple altering of black and white Xeroxes our financially-deprived state school system called "report cards." All that took was an X-Acto, tape and a photocopier, though I eventually migrated to Photoshop 3.0 once I learned to use it. That actually seemed like more work, though.

The ones that make me feel warm inside are those that help people, like parking passes at the snooty condos where my family had it's annual reunion. Two four-bedroom units rented, two door keys per unit and one parking pass for us all to share. Execution - perfect(not that Arial on top-secret blue Kinko's paper is hard to replicate). Remorse? No way.

On Jan.19.2005 at 05:44 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I want to know what this means.

Oh… Marian thinks that I am Design Maven. Go figure…

On Jan.19.2005 at 06:23 PM
Mitch’s comment is:


we do never see you both on the internet at the same time.


On Jan.19.2005 at 06:44 PM
Clouseau’s comment is:

True Confessions indeed!

Now is the time to Speak Up Monsieur Vit!

The very best of the French Investigative Services have been deducting the true identity of the DesignMaven and have narrowed the list to four hairy individuals:

Suspect #1: Massimo Vignelli: UniMarksMan!

Suspect #2: Steven Heller: hmm? maybe.

Suspect #3: Wally Olins... nah!

Suspect #4: But you Mr. Vit, with that cheap, phony disguise!

Ahhh Hah! and Tan Le as your trusted Cato!

We have ways of making you talk! Speak Up!


Inspector Clouseau

PS: I must go now. Got a movie to debut!

On Jan.19.2005 at 06:51 PM
marian’s comment is:

And Armin thinks I am a secret agent. Go figure.

On Jan.19.2005 at 06:58 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

On Maven

On the one hand he says he is a big Joel Osteen & T D Jakes fan, and doesn't consume alcohol, and he never used to swear...

But lately his keyboard is getting a little bit rude.

This is not in any way a judgement. I'm just wondering if an alter ego is starting to wear a little thin, run out of steam, revert to its orgin...

On Jan.19.2005 at 07:09 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Designing under the influence", wherein I would have "confessed" to the use of psilocybin as my creative influence of choice.

Timothy Leary is DEAD. ah ahhh,

MUSHROOMS the Pharmacy of Choice for Connoissuers.


You're much more than a MAVEN.

You've reached DIETY status.

The Honorable Jeff Gill.

The Government made me DO IT !!!!!!!!

Government Seals and Identity Projects wlll do it every time.

Believe me, I say a AGazillion HAIL MARY'S.

Honestly, didn't think anyone was paying attention.

Alter Ego in Tact. I'll just keep my brother Larry Maven from posting.

On Jan.19.2005 at 09:14 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> we do never see you both on the internet at the same time.

I think it's happened… where we post at the same time… no?

All I can say is… all those bolds and italics, I wouldn't have the time.

On Jan.19.2005 at 10:02 PM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

I believe I truly know who DesignMaven is.

But, I understand that Maven wishes to remain ANONYMOUS.

And so shall it be.

Unless Maven has a change of heart.

On Jan.19.2005 at 10:08 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

I can't keep the secret anymore, I do know who the DesignMaven is. It's none other than Al Gazoo, the designinator!

On Jan.19.2005 at 11:03 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:


GAZOO, one of the Greatest and Memorable Cartoon Characters of All Time. One of my Favs.

No words to express my LOVE for PACINO. aka Tony Montana.


I promiss that email is coming. I'm quite contempt with being a NOBODY. Keeps me Humble. And so does the Lady that cleans my underwear.

As I stated before. Just think of Maven as Frank Morgan (the wizard) in the Wizard of Oz. Hiding behind the curtains. No wanting to reveal his image.

His absolute POWER came form being INCOGNITO.

Unimark International, during its HEY-DAY Ruled the WORLD.

They were almost bigger than Landor. Imagine that.

On Jan.20.2005 at 12:03 AM
marian’s comment is:

all i have to say is don't believe everything you hear (or read) ...

On Jan.20.2005 at 12:55 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

I'm quite contempt with being a NOBODY.

That's a Freudian Slip if I ever saw one.

C'mon Maven. Just tell us. We won't tell anyone else. I promise.

On Jan.20.2005 at 04:32 AM
Jason T.’s comment is:

Design gods, I am sorry for my sins, with all of my heart.

In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good.

I have sinned against clients and colleagues, whom I should love above all things.

I firmly contest, with all of my heart to honor the AIGA standards and use my talents through honor and humility.


On Jan.20.2005 at 10:45 AM
sheepstealer’s comment is:

I'm surprised no one has brought up anything really evil. How about all of us who took bags of money to deceive the public into believing that a stupid idea would somehow be made lucrative if it were to take place on the internet? Come on everyone, confess to one of these:

- Created an identity that helped company X land WAY too much venture capital

- Created a brochure that convinced people to sign up for a service they didn't want or need

- Created a banner ad that caused someone to download something unwanted onto their computer

- Created a brand presence that artificially inflated stock prices, only to have investors' get-rich-quick dreams be dashed to bits

I think using design for evil can go way deeper than trespassing on college property and under-aged indulgences.

On Jan.20.2005 at 12:02 PM
marian’s comment is:

I think using design for evil can go way deeper than trespassing on college property and under-aged indulgences.

Very true, though my original post is more focussed on design-for-forgery, with "evil" used as a teaser, rather than the evils of design with forgery used as an example.

On Jan.20.2005 at 12:13 PM
sheepstealer’s comment is:

Good point Marian,

I guess I just don't have any forgeries in my past that would be interesting. Yet for some reason I was so inspired by this topic, I just had to write.

On Jan.20.2005 at 12:17 PM
marian’s comment is:

Hey, anything you're inspired to confess to, bring it on. I'm bound by my Speak Up Ethical Code not to reveal anything I hear on this website to another living soul. It's just you, me and the internet ...

On Jan.20.2005 at 12:25 PM
Zoelle’s comment is:

This is the only “forgery” that I have committed — that I can think of. It was a tremendous lesson in patience and using the clone tool.

I had drinks with a guy in college that told me a few interesting tips for making forged dollar bills. The only one that I remember is that the number on the bill (11 in the above example) relates to the letter in the circle (K above). K is the eleventh letter in the alphabet.

I once laminated a stamp and used it several times to correspond with my college girlfriend. I know, there goes my dream of becoming president. Other students in my dorm used tone generators on the basement payphone to fool the phone into behaving as though money had been deposited.

On Jan.20.2005 at 03:03 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

I had drinks with a guy in college that told me a few interesting tips for making forged dollar bills. The only one that I remember is that the number on the bill (11 in the above example) relates to the letter in the circle (K above). K is the eleventh letter in the alphabet.

The other would be to change the Seriel Numbers.

That's what was expounded in to 'Live and Die in LA', starring Willem Defoe.

All I can say is… all those bolds and italics, I wouldn't have the time.

In case ya'll haven't noticed. Armin's, writing is impeccable.

With Boxer Gloves on, Armin, wouldn't make a fraction of the Grammatical Errors I make.


Words that warmed my SOUL.


The truth is DesignMaven is the anti-Hero. He's the everyday Joe. Although, continues to have Dreams and Ambition. Much prefer to live his life through the Love of discourse and dialog of Design.

Truthfully, DesignMaven is akin to Nitric Acid completely Orderless, Colorless, can't be seen, felt or touched.

Comment not meant to be GOD LIKE or Flippant.

On Jan.20.2005 at 06:29 PM
Keri S.’s comment is:

...why haven't I been doing this stuff? oh, yeah...it's harder to do this stuff now. Most illegal thing I have is my copied versions of design programs...

I'm in college and could have been saving a bundle on expenses! Course, now they have to have hollograms on everything, and I lack the time to try to figure out if I would be able to do that, and I graduate in May and it won't really save me anything now...

But I will definatly have to remember this stuff for later on, since I too will probably be poor and be able to make stuff and not have to pay the outrageous prices for them and want to say "Ha! and they taught me to do this kind of stuff!" to the people who make you pay hundreds of dollars to park. I mean come on! it's a car, not an a-bomb let us park! evil parking and transit people.

oh the joy the future will hold for me.

On Jan.20.2005 at 09:58 PM
&y’s comment is:

A word to the wise:

If you are recreating documents on a color copier (fiery, etc), there is a "signature" imprinted on the sheet by each machine, allowing authorities to track the forged document back to the machine on which it was produced.

A guy I know had bootlegged some tram passes in Europe, which, long story short, ended up in the hands of the police, who paid a visit to the agency he had been working at...

He withstood interrogation and ended up walking on it, after spending a few days in the local jail.

And you thought your client meetings were rough...

On Jan.21.2005 at 12:43 PM
beefgun’s comment is:

DO I use Design for evil? Everytime a tree is ripped down so I can tell every schmoe with a mail box about $10 oil changes, seems pretty evil anyway.

Otherwise, parking permits and student ID cards. Oh yes.

On Jan.21.2005 at 05:13 PM
Alan’s comment is:

Once early in my career i created the identity, packaging and website for a company selling diet pills(vitamins from India). I made it all realy attractive and trusting looking and even used some stock photos of models for the testimonials.

I was all caught up with the design and felt pretty bad when i realised what exactly i was doing. I turned down doing phase 2 of the project.

On Jan.23.2005 at 07:00 AM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

I stand corrected on the technology issue, apparently it's easier to duplicate according to this article from NYT.

On Mar.05.2005 at 08:18 PM
Amanda’s comment is:

ive been working on this for a few weeks now, but i still cant get these two pay stubs right.

anyways, my lease is up and i need two of the most current pay stubs i have within two days oct 8th, so i can turn them in to my new apartment complex.

it really sucks that i requested to get paid under the table. really holds you back from doing the things you have to do.

any comments or suggestions? email me.

On Oct.06.2005 at 03:51 PM