July 20, 2010
Would you like to see my portfolio?
Back in the 80′s, when pre-press was critical for a graphic design business, I decided that I could run my business all day, and work part-time in a company that did pre-press and had a night shift so that I could make extra money and learn at the same time. I called upon one of the fastest growing companies in Markham, (I knew them, as they were already doing film output for me at the time), and set out to go and talk to them. At one point, their graphics person offered to show me their portfolio. I said I would love to see it and he proceeded to pull out one of those huge, oversized, vinyl, zipped portfolio bags that we all use to carry around.
I was going through the pages of the portfolio, admiring their work when low and behold, I flipped the page and there it was. I did a double take at first, wondering if my eyes or mind were somehow playing tricks on me, but no, right there on the page was a package design I had done for Interplak Toothbrushes only a few months prior. Right there. In their portfolio. Staring back at me.
I immediately asked them why my design was in their portfolio, and the reply was “we needed a sample of packaging and we output the film, so we figured we had the rights to use it”.
And there it was. The beginning of my end of looking at portfolios.
I became jaded every time I had a freelancer or student come in and want to show me their portfolios. What did I care? How could I know it was their own work? What was the point of it anymore? Theoretically, anyone could grab anything from any magazine, glue it on their nice black matte sheet, stick it in their portfolio, and call it their own. Could it really be that easy to do? Was this an expected and ok thing to suddenly do? Never in my world was that something I had considered, or ever would, but the reality was, how could you tell if it wasn’t their work unless, as was the case for me, your own work appears there?
So then my colleagues and friends would ask me, “how do you hire someone if you haven’t gone through their portfolio to see their work?” I told them that I just let people come and work, and if they were good, I would call them again, and if they weren’t, I’d pay them for their time and that would be that. Lots of freelancers have come and gone through my office.
There was the one guy who told me he worked full-time for a book publishing company, and when I gave him a simple 12-page black and white book to layout and asked him to set up the style sheets in Quark, he sat there for over an hour before telling me that his boss would only allow him to use Word at work. Book Publishing Company? Word? ok, thanks, see ya ……..
Then there have been a stream of phenomenally talented people who have worked alongside me and helped out with tight deadlines and large volumes of work who make it all worthwhile. I never looked at their portfolios, but I knew within 1 hour that they’d be working with me for years and I was completely satisfied and happy about that.
And so things ran smoothly, and chugged on, and business has grown steadily and I haven’t seen a portfolio in a long time (except for the odd student who is just so darn proud of theirs that I see them almost shed a tear when I opt to not look at it, and then change my mind for fear of them bursting into tears).
Until yesterday. Buried deep in emails and work and client calls, I received an angry email from a client. Apparently she googled her company and found her logo and personal info on someone else’s website. She looked into it and saw that a “designer” in Oshawa that she had worked with but decided not to use had posted her logo on his portfolio page and credited himself with my design.
And there starts the new era. The online portfolio. My, how easy it is now to grab someone else’s work and throw it up on a portfolio page and call it your own. Why, the possibilities are endless. OMG!!!! YOU DID THE NIKE SWOOSH?????
Where does it go from here? How do you control the online world in terms of plagiarism and theft? If you changed the colour on a portion of the logo from blue to green at the client’s request, did you suddenly become the designer of that logo? Is it your intellectual property now?
After a lot of emails and threats to sue, and a hang-up from this Oshawa guy on the phone to my client, the logo has been removed from his portfolio. But tomorrow’s another day. And it’s just so darn easy to see something you like and say, yup, I did that.
No thanks. I would not like to see your portfolio.
October 25, 2009
We all have heard the story of the Shoemaker, who is so busy working on other people’s shoes, he has none of his own.
Well, the reason we have all heard that story, is because most of us have lived it over and over again throughout our lives.
This past Spring saw two returning clients calling me back and asking me to redesign and revamp their old site. Their sites were great at the time, but alas, that time had come and gone.
With each call, came a sigh from inside myself that my site, had also lived a long life and was creeping far beyond its life expectancy. It was many years old, I don’t even try to remember exactly when I first went live with it. It was beautiful, fresh and new when it first went live, but asking clients to visit it now had become almost embarrassing. Sure, the design was still great, and very much my style, but the site itself was small by today’s standards, and hadn’t been updated in some time. It was dated, and had lost its “soul”.
It was Brian Brennan of Max Potential (http://www.maxpotential.ca) who really got the fire started in me. I had designed his original logo and website, and he was ready for a fresh new look. Brian is a client whose opinion I value and trust, and he knows his stuff. So Brian called and, not beating around the bush, mentioned that my site too, could definitely use some “sprucing” up. That was the catalyst I needed to “make my own shoes”.
Fortunately, it has been an extremely busy time for me, work flowed in steadily all summer and kept me extremely happy and busy. I found myself sitting at my daughter’s soccer games with a clipboard glued to me. Parents would ask me “how can you get any work done here?” But I did. I would write a blurb here, a blurb there, print things out and take my red pen feverishly to notes I had made as I grabbed whatever time I could to work on my own site.
I never worked on my site during the days, I felt that this was a guilty pleasure that I must use on my own hours. I needed to take care of my clients during business hours, and em-space would have to wait for their own fresh, new site. So the trusty clipboard became my after-hours best friend, my solace in the middle of the night when I tossed and turned and couldn’t sleep. A few paragraphs here and there and it was starting to take shape.
Eventually, I signed up for a Trade Show Booth with the Whitby Chamber. Clients asked me “do you ever get any work out of those things?” The answer is always yes. Even one client is a welcome addition to my growing client base. But the real reason I commit to taking a booth at a show is for myself. If I commit to a hard deadline, where I have to represent myself and earn new business, I have to kick my butt into gear and get my own marketing materials ready. So I roll up my sleeves, with the clock ticking, and no excuses to “bury it at the bottom of the pile”.
And so began the “em-space website weekend”. The exterior shell had been designed and sat empty for months, waiting for the content, scrawled all over the clipboard’s pages to be worked together to fill in the blanks. But at the end of the weekend, after a couple of very late nights and early mornings, and the help of a very good friend who came and assisted, the site was complete.
And as of today, the shoes fit perfectly!
Thanks Brian, and Marko, and Sharaz, and Jenny, and Jeff, and Emily, and Jessica.
With all of your support, help and encouragement, this Shoemaker has some new shoes!
August 16, 2009
Rogers/Bell vs Bell/Rogers Campaign
So Rogers has taken on Bell as the runner-up in the home phone market. Citing commercials where strangers approach people sitting in a park, asking them to “call a friend”. When they oblige, they are quickly impressed by the clarity and great connection they had on the phone. No dropped calls. This was their nemesis in the first few years of entry into this market, but they seem to have resolved most of those issues and the only real problems seem to still be in the customer service department, but that’s an entirely different blog. Sigh.
Bell has decided to fight back hard, not attacking the Phones, but rather the Cable/Internet Service. More Service Less Money. That’s their pitch.
My daughter and I were waiting for our lunch to arrive the other day, and grabbed a daily newspaper to do what we often do – look at the ads together and discuss which ones work/don’t work and why. (Hey, if we aren’t doing that, we’re asking for extra napkins to doodle logo concepts for clients after a clear briefing while we wait).
So there on one of the top 10 pages of a National newspaper, in full colour, Bell has taken out a full-page ad to promote the benefits over Rogers of its cable service.
You may have seen the ad, long couch, 80% blue, 20% red, because everyone knows that Bell is Blue, and Rogers is Red.
But the headline is what stands out to us in this particular ad. Rogers is named twice in the headline. Bell not at all.
Bell has a tiny logo, bottom right corner, as if that’s all it needs.
I asked my daughter who is 16 and exceptionally bright (I know I’m her mom, but you can ask anyone!) who the ad was for and without hesitation, Rogers was the obvious reply.
The headline is confusing. All you see is, “blah blah blah Rogers. Blah blah blah Rogers.”