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Please, No Aliens
Excerpts from 2006 Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market (specifically from the Tips sections of the Magazine category and the Advertising, Design and Related Markets category).

Compiled by David Barringer

Ask yourself whether your style is appropriate.
Our style is very specific.
We need it to be innovative and done quickly.
All attempts seen so far are way off base.
Concept is very important.
Conceptual work wanted!
Bold, edgy, hip.
Does not want to see overly slick, cute commercial art.
Must have corporate understanding and strong conceptual ideas.
We generally use people with strong conceptual abilities.
We generally use artists with a fairly realistic style.
We use all styles, but more often “traditional images.”
Don’t be conventional, be idea-oriented.
Be conceptual, consistent and flexible.
Concepts should be imaginative, not literal.
Preferred styles are mostly cartoon and some realism.
I get a lot of stuff that is way off track—aliens, guys with heads cut off, etc.
We prefer concept over narrative styles.
Send samples that tell a story (even if there is no story).
Looks for graphic quality, conceptual skill, good “people” style; lively, young but sophisticated work.
Don’t show disorganized thinking.
I like to see a variety in styles and a flair for expressing the teen experience.
I like sophisticated, edgy, imaginative work.
All styles welcome except “grunge.”
I look for indications that an artist can turn the ordinary into something extraordinary, whether it be through concept or style.
Send samples related to whitetail deer or turkeys.
Create images that can communicate ideas.
Intelligence, originality and beauty in execution are what we seek.
This is a serious business publication and graphically conservative.
Often use clichés with a twist.
We are always open to new talent.
We’re always interested in widening our horizons.
We are always open to new interpretations.
We look for people who understand “concept” covers.
We purchase fine art for the covers, not graphic art.
We see a lot of sloppy work.
I’m fortunate to be in an area that’s overflowing with good people.
A glut of graphic designers.
Pick the art director’s brain for ideas and be timely.
We are always looking for good hidden pictures.
Looking for good, clean art.
Send only art that is both water-oriented and suitable for children.
We’re looking for originality, clarity, warmth.
Those who require high fees are wasting their time.
Only optimists need apply.
The economy has drastically affected our budgets.
We’re looking for a humorous take on business.
Be efficient in the execution of design work.
Pays for design by the hour, $15-25.
Be innovative, push the creativity, understand the business rationale and accept technology.
Pays for design by the hour, $10-20.
Be patient.
Be enthusiastic.
Be persistent.
Be willing to change mid course.
Be ready to negotiate.
Be willing to accept low fees.
Be self-critical.
Be willing to have finished work rejected.
Our readership enjoys our warm, friendly approach.
These are tough times.
We see steady growth ahead.
Pays for design by the hour, $25-35.
Promptness and the ability to meet deadlines are most important.
All must be able to work fast.
Quick turnaround will put you on the “A” list.
We need fast workers with quick turnaround.
Pays for design by the hour, $15-40.
Have a good sense of humor and enjoy life.
We are not interested in working with artists who can’t take direction.
I like to be surprised by the artist.
Can you do both plants and people?
Particular interest in those who are able to capture the urban lifestyle.
And please don’t call asking if we have any work for you.
Don’t give up!
You are only as good as your weakest piece.
Freelancers must understand design is a business.
We don’t pay contributors.
Always do the best work you can—exceed everyone’s expectations.
Have awesome work—but be modest.
Pays for design by the hour, $15.
Let me know a little about yourself.
Say you’ll keep in touch and do it!
Prefers musical theme.
Prefers financial and fashion themes.
Prefers “intelligent rebellion.”
Pays for design by the hour, $10 minimum.
Prefers military, historical or political themes.
Realistic work only, with science fiction/fantasy themes.
Prefers wholesome children themes.
Prefers old-fashioned, nostalgia.
Prefers realistic, abstract, cartoony styles.
Prefers traditional media with an interpretive approach.
Prefers business law and business lawyers themes.
Ability to show creative flair with not-so-creative a subject.
We prefer witty or wry comments on the impact of humankind on the environment.
Should be simple, upbeat and reflect love for and enjoyment of cats.
Do not send off-color material.
Colors brighter.
We need light, bright, colorful art.
No color.
Needs realistic styles and animals.
Never uses art that depicts animals dressed or acting like people.
We like our people and designs to have a positive and upbeat outlook.
Prefers positive, upbeat, futuristic themes.
We concentrate on crafts and needlework.
Stay away from slapstick humor.
We rarely buy broken glass jokes.
While often associated with hot & spicy, sexually suggestive images are not considered.
Give us a try! We’re small but nice.
No fantasy or science fiction situations or children in situations not normally associated with Christian attitudes or actions.
Have a political and alternative “point of view.”
Be familiar with sled dogs.
There’s no time for training.
We are always looking for new artists with an unusual view of the world.
We prefer contemporary, nontraditional (not churchy), well-developed styles that are appropriate for our innovative, youth-oriented publications.
We want strictly drummer-oriented gags.
Looking for fresh, family friendly styles and creative sense of interpretation of editorial.
Sees trend toward “more freedom of design integrating visual and verbal.”
Sees trend toward “more sophistication, better quality, less garish, glitzy—subdued, use of subtle humor.”
Be ready to fit the format.
We need artists who can work within our budgets.
I would like to have more artists available who are willing to accept our small payment.
We need responsible artists who complete projects on time and have a great imagination.
Pays for design by the hour, $20-50.
Do it until it’s right without charging for your own corrections.
Persistence pays off.
Prefers artists with experience in all types of design and computer experience.
Pays for design by the hour, $15-35.
Must be able to deal with adult subject matter and have no reservations concerning explicit sexual images.
Read our magazine and send something we might like.
Women and girl artists only.
People of color and international artists are especially encouraged.
Please, no aliens or unicorns.
No cute small animal or cute angel pictures.
No humor perpetrating sexist or racist stereotypes.
Be familiar with our publication.
Be familiar with our magazine.
Familiarize yourself with our magazine.
Be very familiar with the magazine and our mission.
Gear your work accordingly.
Study an issue.
Please see our magazine.
Please read our magazine.
Review our magazine.
Have a look at the magazine.
We suggest you review recent back issues.
Look at the magazine to determine if your style and thinking are suitable.
Call me and tell me you’ve seen recent issues and how close your work is to some of the pieces in the magazine.
Study what we’ve done in the past, suggest how we might update or improve it.
Relax and enjoy the adventure of being creative.
Do your homework before submitting to any magazine.
Read us first!
Read our magazine.
Check out our website.
Visit our website!
Take a look at the magazine (on our website).
Take the time to look at an issue of the magazine to get an idea of what work we use.
Please review our publications to see if your style is a match for our needs.
It’s pointless to send your best work if it doesn’t look like what we use.
It is incredible the amount of work that is sent that doesn’t begin to relate to the magazine.
It’s clear that 50% of the new artists submitting material have not looked at the magazine.
Look at previous issues to see that your style is appropriate.
It takes time to plant your ideas.
Let the work speak for itself.
No prima donnas.
Assignments awarded on lowest bid.
Funky, stylized nonadult, alternative styles.
Send great work that fits our direction.
Marketable styles are always appreciated.
Pays for design by the hour, $15-20.
Don’t send out poor quality stuff.
Don’t waste your cards and postage if your style does not match the magazine.
We are actively seeking new ideas and fresh humor.
Don’t try to figure out what’s funny to planners.
We are absolutely open to seeing new stuff, but look at the magazine before you send anything, we may not be right for you.
Do not say, “I can do anything.”
Be yourself. No phonies.
We are starving for satire on the human condition.
We like to look at everything.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 2516 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Jan.12.2006 BY Speak Up
James Gibson’s comment is:

Makes me want to quit right now, although I will have to say i've heard a lot of this before, see: Clientcopia


On Jan.12.2006 at 11:10 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

David, is that you? Or has a Jenny Holzer virus taken over your computer?

On Jan.12.2006 at 11:59 PM
James Gibson’s comment is:

Just... too... much ... impact!

On Jan.13.2006 at 12:01 AM
Ravenone’s comment is:

It's like poetry. Bad Poetry.

Can we condense it to "WE dont know what we want, give us your stuff 4 free, and oh: Buy our publication,too"?

On Jan.13.2006 at 12:25 AM
Randy’s comment is:

David, keep the posts coming. Much enjoyed.

On Jan.13.2006 at 12:31 AM
ben weeks’s comment is:

It feels like you're getting pulled in a million different directions.

On Jan.13.2006 at 02:03 AM
ben weeks’s comment is:

It feels like you're getting pulled in a million different directions.

Funny though.

On Jan.13.2006 at 02:03 AM
ben weeks’s comment is:

It feels like you're getting pulled in a million different directions.

Funny though.

On Jan.13.2006 at 02:03 AM
Frank’s comment is:

Maybe AIGA could produce a little booklet we could hand clients before the first meeting like "What not to do to your designer" or "How to look like a fool with your firm"?

Honestly, I hear this stuff so much from clients that I'm beginning to think there is an epidemic of misunderstanding. Other professions can't be this bad off. Can they?

On Jan.13.2006 at 03:13 AM
David Barringer’s comment is:

Four years ago, I did a similar compilation of the tips in a Writer's Market guide (Link).

Since hopeful writers, artists, designers, etc., buy these big market guides and read them all at once, like I used to do with the writer's guide, seeking salvation in a parenthetical promise ("Yes, you, come with us, we've taken care of everything!"), you are overwhelmed by the redundancy of what soon feel like antagonistic yet vapid non sequiturs. You struggle to maintain your own hopeful willfulness ("I will succeed!") against the light feathery slaps on the face delivered for your own good by the folks who run the show.

Now I find it all funny and rather sad, but that's because I'm over thirty. When I was twenty-one, I had yet to build up callouses and scar tissue; I took it all way too personally. If you read the guides in big skimming chunks, you develop a self-defeating paranoia, like a high-school freshman in a John Hughes film: "No one likes me. I quit." It's no wonder that people gravitate to the rousing cheers of Oprah and Anthony Robbins, seeking confirmation of their self-esteem and personal power; you need a firehose of pressurized self-affirmation just to clean the waxy desperation out of your ears every night. Eventually you realize the verbal hazing that passes for advice or "tips" is really the resentful employer's/editor's self-important complaint: "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen."

Ignore,if you can, the sorrows of the sniping grumpsters and shoot for the places you like and respect. Kinda narrows the field on your own terms (as much as that is possible). And you can start at the top, too. After all, there is no top. There is only the nominally un-bankrupt.

Speaking of money and the tenuousness of business survival, I found it amusing that firms/magazines seem to revel in revealing their shockingly low hourly rates for designers (I help out friends and family, but why should designers do charity work for strangers, especially when design is supposedly "a business"?). You'd think they'd sidestep the issue (and many do by saying rates "vary" or are "negotiable").

One last note: The frequency of cliched generalities may be a result of the format: guidebook entries simply invite them. It is, after all, quite difficult to write assembly instructions for the perfect robot in one or two sentences.

On Jan.13.2006 at 09:34 AM
jo’s comment is:

I bought the 2004 Artist's and Graphic Designer's Market right before I graduated, and experienced a similar feeling of self-defeat as I combed through its squinty-text pages.

The tough thing to realize is that old cliché: If you're all things to all people, you're nobody to everybody. But it's difficult to be discerning when you're a desperate, eager, young designer.

I continue to be neurotic about creating work that sucks, or taking the wrong job, and all of those what the hell am I doing? kinds of questions that come when I read those guides... which is why I try to take them in small doses now.

It's all a balance to be struck, right?

On Jan.13.2006 at 11:30 AM
szkat’s comment is:

i've been freelancing for three years, and 70% of the work has been myself flying solo. i relate to the idea of trying to be whatever the client thinks they need, including being the person who explains exactly what that is to them while you apply for the job.

i read this list and think i'm being told "be everything, all the time." i would rephrase that as something more positive: "be YOURSELF all the time." we all communicate. solve problems. if we try to be patient and friendly, people won't be afraid to try and understand where we're coming from.

we'll always get nutjobs like some things on this list ("Send only art that is both water-oriented and suitable for children.") but if we read each one individually, well, the people building the list are looking for individuals. we each have a fit somewhere.

and for the young'uns... if you want some good practice in how to deal with ignorant clients, find a friend who needs help. I do a website for a wonderful friend of mine who's a pastor. it's nothing spectacular, won't be in my portfolio, but requires planning, concept, client meetings (church board), timing. all the motions of a client, but the trust of a friend who i know will listen when i try to explain things like why i can't just give her the program i'm using and why i can't just teach her how to update it herself. benefits both sides.

On Jan.13.2006 at 12:05 PM
Greg’s comment is:

The tough thing to realize is that old cliché: If you're all things to all people, you're nobody to everybody.

This quote has been rattling around in my head for a while now, and it bothers me. I'm not debating the truth of the quote, I agree in fact, but I disagree with it's reason for truth. Design for a while now has been floundering around trying to find some sort of voice, and that voice has been weak, saying "Yes, sir, whatever you say sir, just don't fire me." Design, to flourish, needs a new media or a revolution in new ideas or both. I don't think we should just accept that if a business needs a "Funky, stylized nonadult, alternative" style, then you hire a Funky, stylized nonadult, alternative designer. Can't the new idea be that we can be everything to everyone? There's really not that much to be anyway; classic, modern, postmodern, or some blend. That's it, right? How is that hard?

Designers favor a style, maybe. Maybe they've convinced themselves that they can only do postmodernesque paint splotches with type sticking out, or little type ornaments next to garamond, or large green boxes with helvetica. Maybe that's all they're interested in. My opinion is that these are navelgazers and they should be marginalized.

Someone please disagree with me.

On Jan.13.2006 at 01:56 PM
jenny’s comment is:

Thansk David - I got a laugh out of this one (although as you said, a little sad)... it may be because I stopped reading those books a while back, and gained a little perspective.

On Jan.13.2006 at 02:05 PM
David Barringer’s comment is:

Greg, there might be a conflation of two levels to clear up first.

There are the individual designers trying to make a living by seeking work; they have to sell themselves (timeliness, flexibility), their abilities (Java, Illustrator), and the work itself (whatever the "style"). The burden for finding paying work is placed on the individual. The employer/magazine, etc., hunts a little, too (sourcebooks, market guides, word of mouth). This is the day-to-day dynamic we're all familiar with. The narratives here meet in a kind of center: the employer seeks good people, tries to avoid bad workers while the designer seeks good employers, tries to avoid getting screwed over. There is signaling, the waving of hands and pay rates, and somehow the two come together in temporary economic relationships. The narratives here are personal: designers see from within their own life stories while the employers from theirs. Hence the conflict between what the designer wants for a good working life and what the employer wants for an efficient and profitable enterprise.

Long-winded. Sorry.

Okay so the next level is one that looks from the point of view of Design, that is, the story of design as its practice and aesthetics have evolved over time. Here you get style trends. You get the good and bad habits of individual designers collectively viewed from above to suggest in toto some kind of grand movement (made up of strands of little movements). All of Design's particles make up its wave (or at least individuals may attempt to imagine such a theoretical narrative and impart to one's own conception of it a structure or progression that can be expressed in shorthand, as in Modernism to Postmodernism, Garamond to Grunge, etc.). It may be that from this view it doesn't seem so hard for an individual to absorb discrete expressions of historical style, tongue them up into little paper balls, and spit them through the straw of one's working life at the screens and brochures of whomever's buying. It doesn't seem hard to do this, I agree. And your opinion that designers who refuse to do this are "navelgazers" (i.e. unreasonably inflexible) stems from the premise that designers today need to see themselves neither from Design's point of view nor from their own point of view but, instead, only from the employer's point of view: designers should ideally act like a cheap straw with a big box of stylistic spitballs. This is, in one way, what many freelancers (designers, writers, artists) do to survive, but while it's theoretically benign from the employer's point of view, it is, in practice and from the freelancer's point of view, rather back-breaking and mind-hollowing to pull off.

What I mean: I've written for magazines for over a decade. I write a while, then I quit. Then I come back and write awhile (money! credit! whee!), then I quit. Working for myself is what produces some good stuff, and then I decide, "Hey, I should make some money," and then I start trying to write TO magazines. I absorb. I adopt. I mimic. (It's a uniquely human capacity, mimickry having to do with certain neurons in the brain; sorry, been reading lately.) Anyway, I feel emptied out after a while and so need to quit. In other words, seeing one's own work from the points of view of others (employers, Design, Literature, History, etc.) is an outside-in perspective on one's own value. Adopting the incentives of others works only so long before the balloon of optimism inside you deflates. This is the point where people revert to quotations. This is where the psychological burden of juggling jobs and styles and external demands drains your economic life as well (and may result in poor work the employer might notice).

Shit, I'm long-winded today. Almost done.

So while it's theoretically possible to spitball your work according to the whims of employers, it's dangerously dehumanizing to the person in practice. There are other perspectives in which to value one's own work that do not depend on the ability to work god-like miracles on a quick turnaround for $10/hour. The obstacles, however, are great for the individual to surmount precisely because the economic dynamic today is rather hostile to the individual freelancer, which is why it's easy to accuse me of idealism in arguing for the individual perspective. But I think the economic perspective (seeing the dynamic from the employer's point of view) has all the support it needs. I don't think companies or the market needs any cheerleading from the little guy. It could really care less. Of course, the market would reward (barely) designers who could be all things, all the time. That's the given. The question, as you bring up, is why then shouldn't we try? The answer: because we don't want to.

On Jan.13.2006 at 02:44 PM
Greg’s comment is:

Well, let me start off by apologizing for making you type a novel in response to a quasi-serious musing. Mostly I'm just a tired freelancer bitching. However, I'm still not seeing just how you disagree. I understand the concept of the "movement," in that it's an evolution, and I'm not advocating that a new style needs to be born in order for designers to prosper. Actually, I'm starting to think that because of market forces (i.e. stick with what works), there will never be anything new under the sun. I'm saying that "spitballing" (A nice turn of phrase) may be all we have left. So, to tie yourself to a specific style is ultimately self-defeating.

We're all looking for something new. But design's been to hell and back (or at least to Carson and back) and we're just filling in gaps now. I think we may have run the gamut. So, in absence of a new medium or a new style, we need a new idea, and the idea I posit is that we can elevate design by understanding all aspects of form, inserting meaning, and filling client needs as best we can. Will it be hard? no. Will it be mentally difficult to get around? For a lot of designers, yes.

Though, as I said before, I may just be a frustrated freelancer.

On Jan.13.2006 at 03:39 PM
David Barringer’s comment is:

But, Greg, your summing up of your opinion expresses exactly where we disagree. You are resigned to the status quo of reaction: client need dictates your response. A tap on the knee, and you kick up a website, a brochure, a logo. I don't doubt that this practice exists. As I say, many freelancers (writers, designers, illustrators) do this to survive (hell, I do it all the time; but then again I can burn this kind of work to ashes and feel nothing). Anyway, I don't see how accepting this is the means to "something new." You're making a virtue of a vice. I do admit, however, that my view depends on the skull of the designer actually containing the intractable throb of a yearning. The yearning has to do with a desire to do good work, both objectively and subjectively. It doesn't have to be satisfying. Good work can poke your finger and make you bleed and want to try again. Work isn't an ice-cream sundae for the soul. But I have met folks, not necessarily designers, who simply don't have the desire to do any specific thing. They just want money or honor or compliments or status. This kind of person is your kind of designer. It's not mine. And let's be clear: I'm talking about a kind of creative person I would like to be and that I would hold up within whatever creative field as a good model. This model may be at odds with what the employer is looking for. In fact, almost by definition it will be because employers don't want the messiness of personality at all; they want the efficiency of work product. So I still think you're looking at yourself from the employer's point of view, not from your own. You don't need a new idea. You need your own work. And I can't think of more challenging project: creating your own personality through work.

On Jan.13.2006 at 03:58 PM
Greg’s comment is:

But that's just it, David. Creating your own personality through your work is like saying, "here's my niche, now let me know when you need work like mine." It's ultimately self-defeating. What if instead of creating your own style based on stuff you happen to like, you were to expand your knowledge of existing movements and try to use them as best is appropriate? Perhaps this reveals me as a classicist, but I don't think we've explored what we've got enough to go filling the heads of young kids with notions that they have to "discover" their own style, plant their flag and wait for someone to need them. "Here's my work; love it or don't," is what an artist would say, and newsflash: we're not artists. I'm not saying there's no need to be creative, and I'm not saying appropriate, appropriate, appropriate. In fact I think it takes more creativity to use what we've built over the last hundred years and combine things in a new way, than it does to try and extend a style you've built for yourself to cover the needs of others.

Business has been left in the dust by designers who are more concerned with art than design. My freelancing is geared towards small business. Most of the time, I have trouble getting a client to understand a basic modernist concept like use of open space! To explain postmodern concepts to them is nearly impossible, and they don't care anyway.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that trying to extend a style that you've created for yourself to cover everything that may come your way is a great way to starve for your art. I'm not talking about honors and accolades, I'm talking about survival. There is a bottom line to design, whether one chooses to see it or not. The "something new" I'm referring to is instead of being insular, we reach out. Maybe the people who keep us in business will reach back.

On Jan.14.2006 at 04:26 AM
David Barringer’s comment is:

I think we're talking past each other. I'm reacting to your original proposition that we can be everything to everyone, that there isn't much to be anyway, and that being everything isn't hard. Now I think I understand that you didn't actually mean that. After all, you have to admit that it would at least be kind of difficult for one person to design type, magazine layouts, cover art, websites, film credits, books, street signs, tshirts, catalogs, and packaging in any style in any combination. A client could exhaust your capacities in no time. "Do a little Sagmeister with a dash of Venezky. No, too much Carson. How about more Hans Schleger? A dash of Rian Hughes. More Pentagram. Too much Emigre." This is a parody of the process, but the process can feel like parody. What you're getting at, I think, is that certain kinds of stubbornly egotistical designers put too much stock in their own "distinctive" style, and that their refusal to bend is arrogance in action. In other words, no prima donnas. So you have certain real designers in mind who tick you off. That's fine, but I couldn't care less about them (although in the market guide, you should see how often editors/ad folks insist on freelancers showing portfolios with a consistent, discernible style: employers ask for style, probably to make their decisions into the easy binary thumbs up or thumbs down). You could, empirically, survey the aesthetic styles and project-development styles of designers and then prescribe a remedy to various identifiable "types." The problem is what's your model? What do you want them to be, and why? I think it's simply impractical, if not impossible, for everyone to be good at everything, and I don't desire this outcome. To get around this, you argue that being everything only means being facile with a few "looks." I'm guessing you'd ask a client whether they want clean/dirty, traditional/hip, slick/grungey, Baby Boomer/Gen X, Y, Z. I often do the same thing because obviously you're right that explaining the principles of one discipline to someone in another discipline requires some translation of concepts into different jargon (designspeak to businessspeak or legalspeak or litspeak or Hollywoodspeak, etc.). But this shouldn't be confused with the much grander proposition that we can be all things to all people. I can't even talk to everyone, let alone design for everyone. There are differences in language and priorities and emphasis and, at bottom, my own limitations (and my desire: I turn down work if I can't or don't want to do it). Okay, so let me wrap this up. You're focusing on designers loosening up and responding better to the needs of their clients rather than stubbornly pushing the infallibility of their own "style." Fine. I'm arguing, first, that personality is not style; second, that facility with all historical styles is empirically impossible and morally undesirable; and third, that through their own relationships to work, individuals create their own personalities (I'm talking philosophy/psychology here, not the style of a website or poster). Okay, gotta run. It's been fun.

On Jan.14.2006 at 09:53 AM
Greg’s comment is:

Honestly, David, I'm pretty sure that I'm just saying what I'm saying to be a pain in the butt. I truly agree with the concept of pushing a new style on a client when the client type calls for it. If they're hip to it, then great. I don't think anyone can be totally historically perfect when it comes to knowing design styles; hell, I'm still only halfway through Phil Meggs. I just think it's wrong to only be one type of designer to one type of client, and that's what alienates and ultimately intimidates business (especially that of the small variety). When designers read lists like what you've posted here they're constantly judging themselves on where their style fits, and it's wrong to say "because you're not pushing the envelope, your work is meaningless." What I'm saying boils down to this; don't focus on one thing or one style and only do that well. Do everything well. Or at least try.

On Jan.14.2006 at 10:11 AM
David Barringer’s comment is:

And I say, again: impossible and self-defeating to do or try to do everything well. On one extreme, you have the self-promoting purists who insist on the superiority of one (their) style. On the other extreme, you have your ideal designer who is a master of everything. My designer is somewhere else on this spectrum, maybe on a different spectrum measuring something other than facility with the shell game of style. I don't care about pushing envelopes or where designers fit from the perspective of Design (teachers may push you to take your place within Design's larger narrative, but that's a different topic). I'm saying after you survey what's out there, after you know a little and experience a little, after you wade ankle-deep through the shallow pools of market guides, you have to decide what kind of work you want to do (desire), how well you're going to do it (capacity/will), and how intensely you're going to focus on it (hobby/livelihood/calling). You can't live your life or pursue design by clicking on the drop-down menu of history. What I'm saying is doing this is harder than what the style snobs do (stand in the place where you get paid) and harder than what your jacks-of-all-styles do (jump around, jump, jump, jump around). Trying to do everything well is a rationalizing strategy that covers up the dilemma of not knowing what you want, where you want to go, who you are. Again, don't confuse style with personality. You can bite someone else's style, but you can't make a personality by mimickry.

It doesn't look like anyone else is listening to our little discussion, but I think it's been productive to work out what we're talking about, even if we're still working it out. Unpaid, I might add. And in our own styles. Because we're stubborn.

On Jan.14.2006 at 10:34 AM
Jason’s comment is:

Stubbornnes becomes an attribute when you balance it with a little common sense. For the designer, this means being yourself and finding that "calling" without relying on what's already been done. Sure, do something great, but do it in your own way, and for reasons beyond alligning yourself with the dead-great-white-male designers that came before you.

On Jan.14.2006 at 11:31 AM
Joy’s comment is:

These market guides are full of false hope. The publisher(s) market to those designer/illustrator wannabies who often lack the education, portfolio, networking, tech skills that professionals develop over the course of their careers. Besides, by the time the annual edition comes out, a lot of the contact info is out-of-date.

If you've ever had to fill out the questionnaire that the publisher sends out to be included in the new edition, you'd see how the questions slant the responses to oversimplify. Unless I'm specifically asked by an editor to submit to these guides, I stay away from them. Because if I do, I know I'll be inundated with drawings of aliens!

On Feb.06.2006 at 06:33 AM