“Kill the Weasels: Things I Abhor About Graphic Design” originally ran in AIGA’s The Journal in 1992 (vol. 10, no. 1). It’s part of a series in which we invite the original writers who contributed to The Journal to respond to themselves 20+ years later. Check back in a week for the next installment in this conversation between past and present.
There are so many things I hate about design in general that it’s amazing I’m still in the profession. So let’s get a few of the more glaring irritations out of the way in a hurry.
First are layouts. Who needs them? Only wimps, I say. At best layouts are just foils for a client’s anxiety. At worst they’re foils for a designer’s anxiety. What’s trust all about anyway? If we didn’t have layouts, if it was just get the assignment and boom, printed piece, there would be a lot fewer designers clogging up the pipeline to my financial happiness.
Next, deadlines. Another safeguard for neurotics. Who wants them? All design projects should be done in 10 days standard. No exceptions. Face it, the longer any project stays in your office, the less money you make and the more opportunity the client has for changes.
In the computer category there are some others I would nix. I detest software programs that have lengthy logo identifications. I hate looking at the Quark opening sequence. Do they really need to make me see who makes Quark again and again and again? They’re irritating the hell out of me. Stop it.
I also loathe software programs that require manuals more than 36 pages long. If it’s all that complicated, it’s probably poorly programmed. If it’s supposed to be the better way, the easier way, I don’t need to memorize 500-page books to work an Exacto knife. Why should I have to do it to operate a crummy graphics program?
Designers are being duped, but maybe we deserve to be. Look at what we’ve done to the world. Is it better looking after all of our efforts? Look closely. I think anything that’s not hand addressed should cost $2 to mail. Get rid of all the junk mail from people you don’t know, design contests you’ve never heard of, type houses in Michigan, 2,000 photographers, worthless seminars and, well, you get the idea.
And whoever thought up the idea of putting perfume in my magazines? I hate that. My mail smells as if runway models and old ladies have been wallowing in it.
Next, get rid of any billboards with anything other than the client’s name on it. They’re mucking up our environment. I hate them. And there should be a law against any signage at all for politicians, exotic massage parlors, or car dealers. If you’re such a dullard that you can pass by 4,000 new Fords parked in front of a building and not guess that the Ford dealer lives there, you shouldn’t be allowed to drive in the first place. They’re already ruining the view with their cars. Should they be allowed signage to boot? No. It’s ugly…kill it.
Has there ever been a well-designed sign for a car dealer? Speaking of car dealers, whoever gave them permission to put their cheap dealer name plaque on the back of your new car? Think about it. It’s offensive. After you’ve forked over 40 grand for the car, you’d think they’d ask first. I wonder who designs those things. The same people who design the raised white lettering on tires? I can’t stand it. But someone in Detroit or Akron had a job number for those damned white letters.
I hate TV advertising, virtually all of it. It doesn’t inform. There’s no time to. It’s only designed to create “top of mind awareness.” The sound is compressed to maximum allowable levels so that even the Stay-Free maxi-pad ads scream out for your attention. Jesus, I don’t need this. The television manufacturers themselves have snapped to the fact that people hate this stuff and put mute buttons on the remotes. Isn’t that a sign, a subtle indication that something’s wrong?
All right, all right. Maybe I’m wrong to blame designers for compressing TV ads, but damn it, I’ve got hundreds of things I hate left to go and somebody’s to blame.
Like designer logos on stuff. Can we agree on that? Are we all agreed that the items most clad with designer logos are usually consumed by those with the least design sense? Can we agree on that? Good.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, photographers. I hate the fact that I can’t buy a photograph without consulting a law firm (another thing I hate) and what the photographers’ rights are. I pay for the film, the models, all travel expenses, the processing, assistance, an art director to be there to make certain the shot is done right, a stylist to make certain the subject is right, and virtually everything else, plus a hefty day rate. The only thing I don’t do is press the button, and yet I have to negotiate rights? And then the photographer is going to put the next frames in a stock catalog? Photographers, at least this kind, are going to put themselves right out of business. Good riddance. For that matter, who needs any more monomaniacal know-it-all designers whose total focus is on themselves? You know, those gas bags who wear all dark clothing and interesting glasses, who are over concerned about everything, especially how they could further their careers and fatten their pocketbooks? I hate those guys, who always know what’s best and who you have to endure droning on and on and on at dinner parties until you just want to get up and push their stinking face into their stupid Michael Graves designed plate of stir-fried organic field mushrooms. God, I hate people like that. You know, people like me…I hate ‘em. Let’s kill the weasels.
P.S. Mike Hicks, a real pain in the butt, is the principal of Hixo Incorporated in Austin, Texas.