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The Graphic Design Speaking Engagement Rider

In loosely legal terms to the best of my understanding, a “rider” is an addendum made to a contract that specifies certain things not covered under typical circumstances. Say, you are buying a house and use a state- or Bar-issued contract, well, it might have no clause that states that the 13-year-old cat piss smell must be removed, so in your rider you would say something like “Crazy cat lady must get rid of cat piss smell.” I’m no lawyer, so the wording might vary. However, in Rock and Roll terms, a rider is a document that specifies the indulgent, frivolous, pampered whims of artists.

The most famous rider is, of course, Van Halen’s 1982 concert rider that requested M&M’s with an all caps warning: “ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES.” This may be the most representative of the caricature or Rock and Roll excess and power indulgence, but as The Smoking Gun reveals in their rider collection, there are plenty of documents prescribing the strict needs of everyone from Robin Williams to Ted Nugent. For example: Celine Dion requires a temperature of 73°; Jennifer Lopez requests a white room, with white couches, white flowers, white draps, white candles, and white tables; and The Game will not wear a name badge, so “security is to be briefed to who this person is.” More regular requests are deli spreads, bottled water (specific brands of course), PlayStations and condoms.

In the past six months I have done a lot of talks around the U.S. and they have as much glamour as the bucket of KFC chicken that Ice Cube demands. There is no first class flying, no trailer, no dressing room, no after-meal requests, no temperature control. Disclaimer: I love doing these things, don’t get me wrong, but maybe it’s time that graphic designers put on their diva hats and start making some demands for their presentations. So, dear event organizers, here is my ludicrous design-related rider for my upcoming speaking engagement:

A. At the Venue
1. No dressing room is required, but a Green Room, where speaker can rest after flying coach is.

2. Green room must have the following items:

2.1. A Helvetica, special edition Moleskine; absolutely no regular Moleskines.

2.2. A MacBook Air loaded with the Adobe CS4 Master Collection and the entire type libraries of Hoefler & Frere-Jones, Emigre and Chank Fonts; remove all italic font files from each type family.

2.3. A Pantone Solid Chips Two-book Set; remove all pages that have 4-figure PMS colors, only 3-figure PMS colors are acceptable; why use PMS 1795 when PMS 179 will do?

2.4. A Blu-Ray edition of Helvetica.

2.5. A Blu-ray player.

2.6. A copy of Stefan Sagmeister’s out of print Made You Look; do not attempt to replace with Things I have Learned in my Life so far.

2.7. A first edition copy of Philip B. Meggs’ A History of Graphic Design.

2.8. Design samples from local designers that are using varnish in innovative ways.

B. Refreshments
1. Coca-Cola in Turner Duckworth-designed aluminum bottles; no “classic” glass bottles or cans.

1.1. Absolutely no Pepsi within 100-feet of the speaker.

2. A selection of Jones Soda beverages; labels can only contain pictures of dogs, color or black and white are both acceptable.

3. Retro-edition versions of General Mills cereals.

4. A pre-2003 Hershey’s chocolate bar with tin foil and matte paper wrapper; no plastic and do not attempt to fake it with store-bought aluminum foil and printing a wrapper in Epson.

5. Personalized M&M’s that say “I’m the best”; all colors acceptable.

C. Additional
1. Please refer to any other requests made in the comments section in the Speak Up post “The Graphic Design Speaking Engagement Rider,” dated March 11, 2009.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 5892 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Mar.11.2009 BY Armin
David Airey’s comment is:

Thanks a bunch, Armin.

Now, if I ever had any slim chance of being asked to speak at an event, those chances have vanished.

My particular favourite — personalised M&Ms.

On Mar.11.2009 at 10:16 AM
David’s comment is:

While we're at it, why Load CS4 onto a MacBook Air when you could have it on an iPhone?

On Mar.11.2009 at 10:18 AM
Doug Bartow’s comment is:



On Mar.11.2009 at 10:25 AM
John Lampard’s comment is:

I also demand a fruit platter and mineral water in the green room :)

On Mar.11.2009 at 10:46 AM
Tjeerd van Sas’s comment is:

- A copy of every Ray Gun magazine under the art direction of David Carson.
- A handmade copy of "The art of looking sideways"
- An original copy of Goethe's "Zur Farbenlehre" (Theory of Colours), and absolutely no reprints.
- A translator who will read the above mentioned book aloud, for those who don't speak german.

On Mar.11.2009 at 10:48 AM
Tjeerd van Sas’s comment is:

"Speak" should be either "read" or "understand" of course.

On Mar.11.2009 at 10:55 AM
Jason A. Tselentis’s comment is:

Bassinet for my infant, who must accompany me on all travels.

For my infant's post-meal drink: organic, whole milk steamed to a warm 78 degrees, served in a glass bottle (no plastic) with a vinyl nipple (no rubber, no latex).

On Mar.11.2009 at 10:59 AM
Kenneth FitzGerald’s comment is:

Armin, you forgot this one:
Keep this guy the hell away from me.

On Mar.11.2009 at 01:01 PM
Jimmy Marks’s comment is:

- The most recent Communication Arts mag
- Film negatives of antiques
- Scarves for the speaker/entourage
- Twitter already open on the MacBook Air, already logged in to the speaker's account
- Neko Case. In any form.

On Mar.11.2009 at 02:50 PM
Andrew Klein’s comment is:

- For the preceding two weeks, commission a viral sticker campaign promoting the speaker's arrival to build hype
- Dark red kidney shaped desk with a Herman Miller Aeron Chair

This post is both funny and depressing at the same time.

On Mar.11.2009 at 02:54 PM
Bernardo’s comment is:

I'm sure that if the event was organized by young, impressionable designers, the rider would be executed in full.

Maybe that's the ultimate rider:
• Hire an impressionable senior graphic design student with enough knowledge on design personalities to be in charge of executing the rider.

On Mar.11.2009 at 03:41 PM
Skyler Taylor’s comment is:

3 color pms colors only... Film negatives of antiques! This is freaking hilarious.

On Mar.11.2009 at 04:03 PM
Skyler Taylor’s comment is:

*I meant 3-figure pms colors, obviously.

On Mar.11.2009 at 04:04 PM
John Rudolph’s comment is:

A stick of chewing gum.
Dental floss.
A monocle.
Pilot Razor Point pen.
But if the event organizers said I was being too greedy, I guess I would just take the pen. And the monocle.

On Mar.11.2009 at 04:58 PM
Serviceburo’s comment is:

All I need is myself. I am that bad-ass. For realz, yo.

On Mar.11.2009 at 06:36 PM
Josh’s comment is:

What about a copy of any Microsoft design program and a Louisville Slugger in a demonstration of what it feels like when the client chooses the solution you didn't want them too?

What about the green room and your name set in Futura Light or Bold? You know you wouldn't go for bad typography for your room.

On Mar.11.2009 at 09:03 PM
Sébastien Orban’s comment is:

I know what we need : a shrewberry. Now we're talking.

On Mar.12.2009 at 11:37 AM
Sheepstealer’s comment is:

I think I'm going to hire an HVAC engineer to develop a climate control system that will jump from 72° to 74° without ever hitting 73°. That way I'll never have to endure any unexpected Celine Dion visits.

On Mar.12.2009 at 11:40 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Keep this guy the hell away from me.

Kenneth, that's in the Security rider.

On Mar.12.2009 at 11:52 AM
Adam’s comment is:

Nice! Definitely made me lol.

On Mar.12.2009 at 02:36 PM
amy’s comment is:

Armin, here's a good story for you:
I was at a conference recently in an unglamorous city where a Famous Designer had spoken earlier in the evening. Sitting at the hotel's bar around midnight with some other conference attendees, the Famous Designer (FD) came up to the bar and asked to order some food since there wasn't much in the mini-bar. The middle-aged female bartender told FD the kitchen was closed and directed FD to a vending machine. Obviously frustrated with her answer, FD told the bartender that a "hotel of your caliber should have more than fucking chips" and then stormed away. Her response: "Honey, this ain't New York."

On Mar.12.2009 at 08:22 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Amy, thanks. I was once in the same situation. My dinner consisted of Munchos and Diet Coke. I can commiserate with Famous Designer, but not enough to warrant being an ass.

On Mar.12.2009 at 08:48 PM
Meryl Friedman’s comment is:

• "The Elements of Typographic Style, Version 3.1"
• Faber Castell PITT Artist's Pen, Box of 10 in Sepia with Superfine tip
• Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook
• Matthew Carter

Yes, I require Matthew Carter. Or, if he's completely unavailable, I'd settle for Chip Kidd, I guess.

On Mar.12.2009 at 10:13 PM
Ethan Danstrom’s comment is:

• An Illustrator to drink with.

Those guys never stop drawing, just glancing at people at the table and scratching away in their little book. Just for the record, even after a number of drinks, it is still NOT OK to tear out your own picture from the book. Man...it just wanted to show my wife what I would look like at 80. Oops.

I was able to patch it up with a beer gift, but it was tense there for a little bit (I also had to clean the little paper shreds out of the spiral binding as penance).

On Mar.12.2009 at 11:50 PM
Jason’s comment is:

This is hilarious, thanks so much for posting this.

During college I interned for a concert promoter and I can attest to the fact that so many artists place ridiculous demands on personnel/crew.

I always wished I could do that...haha.

On Mar.13.2009 at 10:40 AM
Deron’s comment is:

Yikes — glad you didn't post this *before* visiting CSCA!

Then again, we probably would have complied with all of your requests... except for 2.2.


On Mar.13.2009 at 12:30 PM
Patrick’s comment is:

Great list. However I would add:

* The entire room must be wallpapered in Milton Glaser designed Grand Union™ soup labels.

Also I had no idea Made You Look was out of print!

On Mar.13.2009 at 03:03 PM
Megan’s comment is:

there was no mention of alcohol! i used to work in concert production and rock and roll riders definitely specify types and quanities of booze.

On Mar.13.2009 at 05:16 PM
Jessica’s comment is:

I love the fluidity of your words. The "Crazy cat lady" and "the cat piss smell" was my favorite. Keep it up.

On Mar.15.2009 at 07:12 PM
Elyse Holladay’s comment is:

I want a wacom tablet, free coffee, and some of those Candy Script pillows from Veer/Ale Paul to relax on!

On Mar.16.2009 at 10:06 AM
Jason Laughlin’s comment is:

Let it be known that when invited to speak in Louisville there is a strong chance you will go home with either a Louisville Slugger (Josh), or a wonderful bottle of Bourbon. It's only right.

On Mar.16.2009 at 10:36 AM
Bennett Holzworth’s comment is:

First edition of Learning from Las Vegas signed by the designer (Muriel Cooper). Extra points if you could find a copy that was signed by the authors and the designer.

On Mar.16.2009 at 10:40 AM
John Foley’s comment is:

All furnishings, wall hangings etc in the trailer/greenroom to be aligned flush-left ragged-right to 6 column grid, absolutely nothing centered or ranged-right.

Star on door to be set in 320pt Zapf Dingbats (324pt if reversed) positioned in an exclusion zone all round equal to two third of its overall height - no other element, nameplate, lintel, doorframe, handle, keyhole, hinge etc should encroach on exclusion zone.

Figures on check to be written in oldstyle

On Mar.17.2009 at 02:08 PM