This article was written in response to “Kill the Weasels: Things I Abhor About Graphic Design,” which first 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. This is the second installment in Mike Hicks’ follow up; you can read the first part here.
A little over two decades ago, I ranted on for a bit about the most fatuous, glaringly idiotic phenomena surrounding graphic design. One would hope that, given more than 20 years to correct these blatantly misconceived errors, something would change… Fact is, I hate almost all the same things as I did 20 years ago, or at least those which are still around. But there’s a whole plethora of new stuff that I hate even more. Let’s start off with the little things.
I hate it when people put two spaces after a sentence. Can’t they tell the sentence ended? Do they have to have big gaps of white space or else they’ll just go on reading until they pass out and fall on their stupid face because they couldn’t tell if the period really meant the sentence was over or if it was some kind of super comma and indicated only the briefest of pauses while continuing to read on and on and on and on? Double spacing after periods is insulting to those of us who are not mentally challenged. Stop it. I hate it.
There are so many things to loathe these days. What about crowd-sourcing brand identities? The detestable practice of letting the mob come up with your brand at a price that makes it virtually profitless and guarantees a loser logo. Crowd-sourcing basically implies whatever is sourced is almost worthless to the purchaser. Especially vulnerable are creative services, which are already viewed as a worthless but necessary evil by many CEO’s who wouldn’t know good from bad if it jumped up and bit them on the ass.
The web is essentially the new version of the yellow pages. It’s useful, but it ain’t pretty. In fact, most of it is butt ugly. Website design is almost an oxymoron. Sure, there are some nice sites out there, but compared to what? It’s only within the context of the medium that they stand out, and for every good site there are 5,000 horrible ones I have to look at daily. Yuck. Remember kids, a tuna fish sandwich looks pretty damn good in a sea of rice cakes, but it’s not bluefin sashimi. I have to look at the ugly damned web all the time. If not beautiful, can’t web designers at least make it slightly attractive? What a bunch of brain dead sloths. I hate ’em. They’re making a significant part of our lives ugly. Thanks a lot.
I also hate all the lousy advertising on the web. None of it is good. It’s distracting and constantly popping up to my annoyance and rage. They obviously believe any attention is good, an attitude I despise. It’s like advertising in the Classified section of a bad newspaper. It’s not brand building, it’s brand erosion. Who makes these decisions?
On a side note, I contend no stock photo should cost more than $20. They’ve already been paid for the original for God’s sake (see my original rant on this). Anyone caught charging more should be publicly caned, then heavily fined. These people are parasites, gnawing at the very core of our business, and should be treated as such.
By the way, I missed the memo that said male creatives are now obliged to have humungous beards, a full arm’s worth of tats, plaid work shirts, pencil leg jeans, lace-up lumberjack boots, and earnest expressions. Is there not a single individual with enough verve to break the mold? Why should they all look like extras in a gold rush-era movie or interns at a motorcycle shop? Next we’ll all be having tintype photos taken or (more likely) using an app that emulates a tintype photograph. I hate the artifice. The posers. Note to all: shaving your head doesn’t successfully camouflage late-stage male pattern baldness.
Do we really need any more font designers? I say no. Sadly, most designers today seem unable to work with even five fonts, tops. There must be 10,000+ type faces already designed—a century’s worth, at least. What’s more, 90 percent of the new fonts are either “decorative” or “headline” type, redundant in most cases, blatant plagiarism in a few, and unneeded in all instances. Release the dogs on these people. We’ve got plenty of great fonts we don’t even use. We’re drowning in type faces. So stop. We’ve got no use for additional ugly fonts. Hell, we’ve barely got any use for well-designed ones we already have.
I hate that our profession, in an ironic twist of fate, has drifted to the point of valuing team players over individuals. We’re not growing any new visionaries in the process, no new design stars are looming on the horizon. I hate that the entire business has become so damned democratic and fair that it’s turned, well…bland. I hate this all-inclusive attitude. I hate the mediocrity it fosters, the lowering of the bar so virtually anyone qualifies. Look at all the millions of design competitions if you need proof. My god, if you couldn’t win a few awards these days, given the immense amount of opportunities, you’d have to wonder if you were in the right profession. Of course, you could always pay for a lot of entries in one of the countless logo books that print anyone who enters. It’s ruining the value of achievement. These days it seems, they’ll publish damn near anyone, even a self-righteous malcontent like me. Great god almighty, what weasels we’ve become.
Doesn’t it just make you mad as hell? Sure it does.