It’s a new era in the design business. 2020. I look out the window I do not own; to see a world burning and people hurting but all I want to do is help. Restaurants and small businesses are failing due to COVID and friends are hurting in this economy and all I want to do is help.

But see, I am an art director in 2020. Which means I not only do design but I help unlock the potential in other young artists who pass through these doors.

I mostly do menus, some days I love it. That perfect combination of color palettes, not to many items but just enough to look classy. Or just the right amount of bold perfect photos picture to build a sleek take-out menu that you are proud enough to say to your friends, yeah, I did that.

The perfect paper. The little tweaked details that we spend way to much time on that only other artists would notice.

But other days I hate it.

Trying to get every detail of your piece right. Every comma. Every little change you had me do at the last minute.

Cause I want it to be perfect.

I want that menu to pop like none have before. Just like every dance ad book for your daughter. I want those pictures to glow. I want the little girls name that put in years of hard work, but things happen. Andrianna ends up being spelled Andriana. Or our finger slips at the last second and Jen becomes Je. And I hear you. The angry call that we all dread. Or the disappointment when they realize, no it was their mistake they didn’t send the change.

It hurts either way. Ache really. Cause every artist wants you to love what you commissioned.

The Canva Battle

But we are not only fighting with ourselves to be perfect but with you. The internet has made everybody a graphic designer. I have received so many calls from clients, stating ‘I am an artist’ and they send you a 4×6 postcard with 6 typefaces, and every design style they have ever loved without even paying to remove the watermark from Canva.

Then you have the occasional citizen who has a great idea. Maybe they stole it, or perhaps they have some latent talent. But that by no means makes you a designer.

One straight shelf = Carpenter??

I have to pay for design?

At least twice a month. Even in the middle of a pandemic, when I waived a many hours of art charges to local businesses and small restaurants I still had to hear.

“Why so much?”

Cause I want you to be happy. But I also want the lights on tomorrow. I need to buy better machines for you. I want to hire more young artists to live their best lives which will in turn free me up to check for stray double spaces.

But now days you think you are my only customer…. and you are, for an hour. A day. Or even weeks. However you found a great deal online from Vista Print and I should match their price to save you .01 per card?

But its hard, cause I am trying to make every little detail is perfect.

Then there are some of you who want the file. Ugh. I spent ours getting the character styles perfect. The spacing just so. Balancing items from left to right. Now, fix it and have it tomorrow.

Then I stand at the cutter, colors perfect, aligned excellent and kerned like a pro.

Then I see a hyphenated word…

For all I want to do is give back and actually spend time with my family on a road trip without worrying. But how can I without the tech support phone calls ten minutes out the door. How can I when you misvalue what it is we really do for you.

Graphic Design. 2020.

The only way to close this is to tell you of my impending doom that I didn’t dot every i.

Lawrence McCaffrey
Artist

Image courtesy of my favorite artist, Alex Grey.

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