Friday, February 5

some stuff I've been working on

while I was in Hawaii last year, my cousin Tyler, knowing I'd just read Neuromancer and having thoroughly dazzled me with crazytalk on the subject of Dyson spheres, recommended a book called Accelerando, by Charles Stross. it's a tangled thicket of rushing, strangling, jargon-choked science fiction. so far, our main character (his name is Manfred Macx.) is scrounging around Amsterdam, looking to make somebody very rich.

seems an exciting profession. venture altriusm, it seems they call it. I have yet to find out how exactly he makes his clients rich... but in doing so, he guarantees that those clients will look after him for the rest of his life. Manfred doesn't need money himself. he just surrounds himself with wealthy people.


the other day I listened to this little talk, from Michael Bierut, all about clients. a basic definition of a client: someone who receives something. but in reality, clients are different things to different people. it could mean contracts, memberships, applications, examinations. it depends on who you are. and client isn't the only word you can use. at the library we call them patrons. at the grocery store they call them customers.

all these words connote an exchange of some sort. the clients give us work to do, we do it, they give us money, and we hope they come back again.
I consider myself lucky. there are a lot of people I could thank, specifically, for the privilege of the handful of design work I have. professors. fellow-alumni. friends. they give me, a semi-artistic person with no formal training whatsoever, a reason to play.

Mr Bierut talked about spending more time talking about your clients' business and goals and priorities than about what font they like best.  that isn't the way I've ever gone about my design work. does that make me a complete amateur? probably.
my first full-time job came with all the graphic designer trimmings. all the software, all the hardware. I learned a lot. I miss the power that came with all of those resources. there was a pleasant sort of weight that came with that print shop.

today, all I've got is this macbook. will it be good enough?

compared to three hulking xerox machines, stacks and stacks of toner and paper and cardstock, and full-time access to Adobe Creative Suite?

well, it'll have to be, won't it?
and so far, yeah. and anyway, the opportunities mean way more than the resources. you give me a chance to design you a wedding invitation, I'll do whatever it takes, even if I have to draw it by hand, etching each letter into a blank card with my ballpoint, millimeter by millimeter.
of course there are limitations. and if you don't want hand-drawn wedding invitations, we might have to negotiate. that's okay. I need people like you to keep me from doing insane and impractical things. hand-drawn wedding invitations may have their place. they probably do. that's okay too.

"Clients are the difference between design and art. I would go insane trying to work … without clients…. I really need clients to provoke me as a designer to do work," Mr Bierut says. and that is probably why my own website and my own business cards aren't getting designed. I haven't found the piece of me who is the client. I haven't been able to sit down with her and figure out what she's looking for.

that, and what is she going to give me in exchange? not really awesome jewelry like this, that's for sure. not a trip to Amsterdam or a new pair of shoes. not even $8.86 an hour. so she'll just have to keep waiting.

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