Thursday, February 20, 2014

Utah Mom Spends Family Money For Censorship

judy-loves-coxFew friends of mine asked me what I think about the news story about a Utah Mom who went to a “Pac Sun” store at the local university mall and bought up the entire line of offensive T-Shirts to prevent anyone else from buying and wearing them. She’s planning on hanging on to them until day 59 of the guaranteed 60 day return period so that in the meantime nobody else can buy them, either. She also said that charges should be filed against this outlet and or the entire chain of stores because they violated the city and town’s decency laws.

What’s to say about this, especially from a Graphic Designer? Where can I start?

I would actually like to applaud the graphic designer or design team for coming up with this design of T-Shirts that caused a controversy so powerful that people are talking about their shirts. The photographer who took risqué photos of the woman or women who are in various states of nudity also deserves a lot of credit. Anyone who can create any design that generates news deserves a lot of a special commendation since it’s so hard to generate this kind of buzz especially when we’re being bombarded with other designs from other graphic designers.

Second, I have some experience with being prosecuted because of a design I made and it’s always bittersweet, especially when it’s intentionally offensive. I created this one poster with the “stop smoking” theme; my idea is to show people what smoking actually does to your lungs and wallet. My poster was so offensive that it actually made people turn away but the message stuck – If you smoke one pack a day you’re spending over $2,000 a year making your lungs look like ‘this.’ It’s intentionally offensive and it makes people think; mission accomplished. I had to debate or argue why my poster works and should be kept as-is. I created a debate and a controversy and hopefully moved some people to take action. Which leads me to…

Three, I thought Utah was still a part of the United States where The Second Amendment still holds some value. One of the aspects of living in a society like this is that people have the right to publish whatever they want just short of child pornography or instructions on how to make a bomb that will kill the president or any other public official. I’m allowed to write anything so long as it doesn’t cross the line into deformation. I’m allowed to buy anything that’s on the open market, period.

If I want to buy smut or pornography and someone wants to sell me smut or pornography, that’s my business. If someone wants to pay me to make smut or pornography, that’s my business too. The only institutions that can or should get in my way is my marriage (the supreme law in this house in that jurisdiction) The State and Federal Government (to make sure that neither children or animals are being exploited) and my religion. Period.

What this woman, Judy Cox has done is prevented me from going to that specific store and buy something that I might want. By buying up all these shirts because she thinks they are indecent she has prevented me or others from that area from exercising their First Amendment Rights. She has the right to be offended, but she doesn’t have the right to censor other people.

It doesn’t matter if she thinks they’re offensive, I’m even a little disturbed by how young women are becoming more sexualized, simply because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you get to ban it. What this incident has done is given the anti-religion crowd an precedent; since you think this is offensive, I find your Christ paraphernalia offensive and I want that removed from my sight!

Judy Cox may have started something she can’t finish. There are going to be a lot of people who are going to raise the bar and hope that there’s another woman out there just like her who will buy up all of their offensive material. What she’s also done is she’s caused everyone to take a moment and look at Pac*Sun’s products and I’ll bet their sales have grown significantly over the past week. Pardon the pun, but I bet they think this controversy is a Godsend.

What do you think? Write a comment below or send me a tweet…



People: “Utah Mother Buys Out Store's 'Pornographic' Shirts over Teen Concerns,” By ANDREA BILLUPS 02/19/2014

WHEN THE SHIRT HITS THE FAN: Woman buys all 'indecent' shirts to remove them from store.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Since When Is Success Bad

One of the phenomenon’s I’ve been witnessing over the past decade that really has me concerned is the attitude that hard work and success is somehow bad. In some circles, taking too much pride in your work and what you’ve built is now a source of shame. It’s amazing to me that even the current president’s on the band-wagon with is ridiculous “You didn’t build that, someone else made that happen” speech a few short summers ago. There's the notion that if you're successful and made a lot of money, you screwed someone else. If you want to succeed then there's something "wrong" with you.

AdWeek reciently printed a critique about the new Cadalac ad that asks some of the same questions I’ll be asking here in this post but from the other perspective: “Is Cadillac's New Ad Totally Inspiring or Completely Repulsive? Viewers divided by this guy's view of America” By Roo Ciambriello

There was once a time in my own life that being “this guy” (Neal McDonough) was “the goal.” This is who and what you were supposed to be, someone who picked a career and was driven for success. We were not driven for financial gain - that was just the added bonus – but for personal fulfillment. Being ‘the best’ was it’s own reward and everything else was only the icing on the cake.

Now we’re supposed to hate that guy while we’re trying to teach ourselves and our children that it’s not OK to be successful because you might ‘hurt someone’s feelings’ or it’s not politically correct to be too good at anything and be boastful. Anyone who is at the top of any organization is subject to criticism and public scorn. Business leaders and owners are now the pariah of our society – a step up above pedophiles but just below those people who won’t shut their cell phones off at the theater.

Anyone who is successful and loves what they do are suspect to others, it’s now the safest prejudice to have.

People love to bash entrepreneurs and CEO’s and lump them all together. There are also a number of folks, especially some of my far-left friends that love to bash those of us who started up businesses out of their own homes or garages because they (or we) aren’t playing by ‘the rules.’ What we’re supposed to do is what they’re doing and failing. We’re supposed to go to a job we hate, driving a car that we hate to work in a house that we hate while living with a spouse that we hate who are helping us to raise spoiled brats that we hate and are growing to disrespect us. We do this in the hopes that we get tapped on the shoulder and given the keys to the executive washroom in recognition of our long and almost endless sufferi.

By starting our own business, we’re breaking the rules they live by and what we’re doing isn’t fair, thus we are fair game for criticism and too often I’ve been lumped in with the “villainous” CEO’s  who are taking too much and aren’t paying their own fair share.

Turns out, after examining what these people have to say about “all” CEO’s and small business leaders they don’t know what they’re talking about; which of course reminds me of an anecdote. A while ago I was sitting at a table in the cafeteria with a fellow droid “Bob” talking about how “Jack” the CEO of this company was doing a horrible job, that we were losing market share because of him and that the CEO’s job was so easy even he could do it. I had a huge smile across my face the entire time cause the CEO – Jack - was standing right behind him the entire time.  Jack said – “I really appreciate it when our fellow co-workers” – he regarded EVERYONE as a fellow co-worker – “have ideas on how to make this company better. Please come in Monday morning  with your best suit and take over for the day. I look forward to hearing your ideas.”

Flash forward to four days later; the Tuesday afterwards Bob quit because while he was trying to do Jack’s job, Jack was on the assembly floor and did Bob work for an entire week in just one day. In short, Bob obviously didn’t what the funk he was talking about, he knew it and was embarrassed.

If you took any of these people who think they could do better or that CEO’s or business owners and gave them the similar opportunity they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. They couldn’t hit the ground running.  If I offered some of my critics the chance to be in charge of “Eric Fisk CGD” for the day starting the next morning – they wouldn’t know the first thing to do besides make coffee and check the email. Yet these clowns still think they know better than I do about my own business.

And yes, as a freelancer I get a lot of worthless and unsolicited advice from people who know nothing about graphic design, freelancing or running a sole-proprietor business, or even how to self-motivate. If you’re successful and make a decent living doing what you love to do you’ve some how cheated and you need to be brought down with horrible advice by these people who think they know better than you.

A good CEO or business leader is the one who steps in and makes sure that the business doesn’t fail and the company folds – if other employees fail at their job the worst that could happen is that a project might be delayed or that specific employee will be fired. If a CEO fails then the whole company serious loses money or fails. If a lower-level employee fails hardly anyone hears of it, but if a CEO fails there are news articles or even magazine covers devoted to his or her failure.

The same CEO doesn't demand a high salary, he would rather get paid a percentage of the profits and stock options who's value depends only on the performance of the company. If the company does badly, he gets paid nothing but if it succeeds he gets paid what he's worth. Asking for only one one-thousandth of a percentage of the overall company's profits makes him a bastard (or a bitch) and they aren’t playing “fair.” It’s not fair, because those are rules that nobody in their right might would take unless they were willing to gamble on the success of the whole collective.

There’s a reason why business leaders and entrepreneurs get paid so much – it’s called pressure. It’s the kind of pressure that average people can’t or refuse to understand. When the majority of workers call it quits around 5 or 6 in the afternoon many of us are only half done. I’ve stayed awake for 24 hour long periods just to finish a project and in the end of many instances if I had to put an hourly wage to what I’ve done it (hours worked for the money I’ve earned) it would be less than minimum wage. The compensation I get for great paying jobs is in compensation for the sacrifices I made in the past while learning my trade and craft.

There are some jobs I take that severely underpay me for the work I do and the people I work for couldn’t afford my real wage. I live, eat, and breath projects every waking hour until it’s done and the hours I charge are gross underestimates of the time I takes me to get the work done but I continue to do it anyway. I do it for a reason too many of those clowns can’t understand – it’s pride and ambition above compensation.

So I’m supposed to feel guilty when my wife and I buy a luxury cross-over SUV, or remodel my office, or buy the genuine leather reading chairs for me and my guests and potential to enjoy? I’m supposed to be ashamed when I take my wife on a trip to someplace tropical to celebrate our anniversary with the capital gains earnings from the money we saved and invested? Am I supposed to be embarrassed when I actually enjoy buying a new high-end server to service my client’s needs in cash? I don’t think so.

What’s going to happen we’ve gone too far vilifying people who either want to be or are already successful? What’s going to happen when too many of us want to stay under the radar and not achieve too much nor want to lead? How long will it take for our civilization to completely collapse?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Remembering Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert“DUNE.” At the time I was an avid Star Wars fan and we were talking about how I wanted more of that. Knowing how I had trouble reading at the time because I was easily bored with anything that resembled schoolwork, she still suggested that I tried reading Frank Herbert’s original novel. Little did she know at the time that it would change my life since it opened my eyes to a whole new universe and ways of seeing life. After a couple of years of picking it up, reading a couple of chapters, then putting it on hold for a little while longer, I finished the book in earnest when my brother gave me a copy that coincided with the release of the 1984 motion picture directed by David Lynch.

I somehow got my hands on the 1978 calendar with art with conceptual paintings by John Schoenherr which led me to find more of his work that was published in periodicals like Analog and Omni magazine. That conceptual ‘space art’ inspired me to look into other artists like Roger Dean who created the amazing cover art for music albums. Those SF periodicals caused me to follow other artists like Andrew Probert (There are kids who's parents worked in mechanical - drafting pencil factory who were able to go to summer camp because of my obsession with line quality thanks to Mr. Probert) which led me to trying to mimic their styles.

The LP of the Original DUNE soundtrack led my search for similar music like that of Brian Eno who’s song  “ Prophecy Theme” was included in that album. I dabbled in New Age and what some called Industrial ambient music which then lead me to one of my favorite musical artist or bands of all time; “Tangerine Dream.” – Much of that music I still play when I’m trying to create work that’s outside “the box.”

So why is Frank Herbert important to graphic designers or modern artists in general? Why should we take a moment to remember his work via this blog post? For all the reasons I’ve covered already and more.

Artists and graphic designers need to spend time outside of work exploring other ideas and other realms. We need to explore and even dabble in Science Fiction and Fantasy from time to time because, let’s be honest, what we’re doing is creating design of the future. Not the far off distant future but the immediate future and we have to never be afraid of embracing that idea.

Because I tried to take what I pictured in my imagination from what I was reading and translate that onto the paper of canvas I was able to practice and hone my craft. Years of practicing trying to create (or recreate) SF art taught me how to handle mediums like oil paint, airbrushing, and eventually the Adobe Creative Suite. I am the artist I am today of a journey that began with the words “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”

Frank Herbert died 28 years ago this week and it’s a privilege to take the time and look back on his legacy. His son Brian and fellow author Kevin Anderson have picked up where he left off with the DUNE saga and I can’t help but wonder who else were inspired by his work and what we enjoy today thanks to his motivating vision.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Coke Ad Did What It Was Supposed To Do.

Right after the Super Bowl there was a huge controversy about an ad from Coca-Cola featuring people from all over the world singing “America The Beautiful.” Not going to lie, my wife and I got choked up when we watched it the first time.

It’s a just a commercial and like anything it’s up to interpretation – beauty or ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. When I first saw this commercial all I thought it was about people who came from other parts of the world to be in THIS country rather where they came from and the first they learned to do is learn to speak “America The Beautiful.” Maybe they learned that song in their native language BEFORE they came to this country. Who knows and who cares? Fact is, they wanted here and they want to sing “America The Beautiful” period.

As someone who was treated as an outsider, as someone was weird and strange, and even excluded by people who were supposed to make me feel at home - I still love America. I love this country and the freedom to be me. I also love that people from other parts of the world want to come here. People want to come here, to the United States for whatever reasons. Doesn’t matter where or why, they want to come to The United States and become something new while at the same time bring a part of where they come from to help them feel more at home. Not only do most of them integrate into our culture, but they also bring something to integrate into ours.

We have the best of the entire world here, it’s not just the best of two worlds, it’s the best of all worlds and cultures. Not only that, but we also have the freedom and the power to disagree. If you don’t like the aforementioned commercial (or any commercial) we can talk about it. We can argue and debate and at times our discussions become super-heated. Some of us get angry because the others can’t – or won’t – see things their way. On the bright side we don’t have the state sponsored media beating it over our heads how “great” this country or lining dissenters along the wall to be shot.

If some people saw something else out of that commercial because of their own baggage they brought to the TV that’s their burden to bare. It’s America, we work out our differences and we get better. We expose all the parts of ourselves – the good and the bad – and we hammer out.

Most importantly, The people who came to this country also learned to drink Coke! What’s more flipping American than that?