"Why the hell is editorial making design decisions?"


T.A.F. Portrait created using Rebelle on a Surface Studio.

This is a bit of a creative rant about an annoying trend in corporate offices that has gone on for far too long. First I'll start with an example.


If a person needs surgery, should they consult with a medical specialist or ask the hospital janitor for their medical opinion instead?


I know it sounds like a ridiculous question to ask but common sense demands a person speak with a medical specialist. In too many corporate offices though, the exact opposite takes place. Why are editorial or non-creative staff making design decisions in corporate offices? It's maddening. What's the point in having a laundry list of requirements and knowledge for potential creative candidates if the hired employee's experience and skills aren't recognized or respected when it matters most?


If you've ever gone to a corporate website and wondered why it looks like utter shite, that's usually the reason why. Instead of listening to creative staff and allowing them to do the job they specialize in, people with no design knowledge or artistic talent what-so-ever are micro-managing the creative process with disastrous results. Due to the work being corporate projects though, smoke is blown up a lot of asses in stating how great the projects turned out because no one has the courage to say the results are terrible. Especially if an executive makes a laughably bad design decision. I've witnessed this too many times. Legions of people embarrassed to admit they have no clue about art and design so they become posers trying to prove otherwise.


T.A.F. portrait as part of a series.

During a creative consultation session with a client during a freelance project, I was trying to explain why a particular design choice that the client wanted wasn't a good idea. The client wanted a continuous line logo that was supposed to represent three different people connected to give the impression of togetherness. My main concern was the client wanted a really thin line quality for the logo which is totally not going to read well on business cards or marketing materials. The client's chosen style of the logo also wasn't very good. He didn't care and insisted. The final design was terrible as a result to point of being laughable. Usually the creative is blamed in situations like these but it should be understood that the client was warned the design choice they wanted wouldn't work. The client didn't listen and demanded their choice. The artist shouldn't be blamed when a client asks for bad design and bad design is exactly what they get. No different than someone ignorant of medical procedures but pretending they have knowledge makes demands of a surgeon to use a procedure that clearly won't work. The poser then gets upset when he loses a limb as a result of his demands. It's wiser to listen to the specialist for damn good reasons.


I recently turned down a position in part for this very reason. Reading the offer sheet filled me with dread. One of my key concerns was there wasn't an Art/Creative Director in place at the office but a high volume of designs are needed. The senior designer wasn't trusted to make design decisions and I was expected to answer to three different VPs. None of which are designers. So in essence what was presented is an office that has too many "VPs" making design decisions but no one wants to listen to the actual designers. That's like having 3 "chefs" in one kitchen (a disaster if there ever was one) telling the cooks what to do but none of the chefs can actually make a meal. How does that make any sense? Worse, the sheet described how everything would be micro-managed requiring me to list everything I worked on, every hour of every day. If I'm being tasked to work in a poor office environment under bad circumstances at the very least pay me well for it with an awesome benefits package which so wasn't the case.


I understand that working as an artist can be hard and jobs can be scarce especially in Philadelphia where the art scene is overrated at best (don't let Avenue of the Arts fool you) but that doesn't give corporate offices the right to rip off or abuse creative staff or any staff for that matter. Good creatives generally will produce whether they are getting paid to or not because we tend to have lifelong passion and dedication for the what we do at a time when it's popular for people to be dedicated when convenient or passionate only when it's profitable. Unfortunately, a lot of people have absolutely no concept of what that means. People destroy what they don't understand. As a result, too many people belittle the craft or expect artists to work for cheap if not free. Stories of artists working freelance and finding themselves chasing down clients for payment are all too common. Corporate offices are not exempt from this. Quick to charge for creative services but reluctant to pay for creative services. Outsourcing to India and other parts of the world for cheap labor is popular because creatives are viewed as not being worth the overhead but at the same time, there isn't a product built on Earth that doesn't require an artist at some point. The world as we know it couldn't exist without artists, think about that. Imagine a corporate shrill telling Leonardo DaVinci his work sucks or some clown in editorial trying to tell Michaelangelo how to paint the Sistine Chapel. The absurdity of it is palpable.



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