Marc English: Ironing Out the Irony
[Graphic Design USA, January 2002]
Once a Scout, always a Scout. I made it to Second Class when, in Junior High, I moved on to the path of discovering the strange ways of the opposite sex, earning other merit badges. Not only do I remember the Scout Oath, but also, their motto: Be Prepared. When on airplanes, we're told to be sure we know where the exits are in case of a hasty exit. Preparation for an "exit strategy." Playing ball, it's always good to know how many outs there are, who's at bat, and who else may be on the basepaths with you, as those factors can keep you from advancing. And scoring. That's preparation AND strategy.
Today the approach to design problems has to be as thoughtful and timeless as ever. For some of us design isn't a career, but a calling. And that said, it's not a matter of sink or swim during tough economic times, but swim, swim, swim. The less work there is, the harder one must work. While speaking once of how clients give us grapes and we turn them to wine, a colleague commented how many clients just need grape juice. True. At this moment there are fewer grapes being put into production, and the varieties of grape juice - of grape jelly - and wine are vast. And for the most part clients are just trying to get rid of grapes, while our profession deals with what to make of them. Grapes of wrath. Or at least, ire. Or irony.
Boy Scouts, landing gear, bottom of the ninth, sediment? Anything can happen. And it will. Be prepared. Ben Franklin put it best: "Drive thy business, or it will drive thee." Or as another great American, Crazy Horse said: "Today is a good day to die." Don't believe in forecasts. Be prepared.
The above written in response to a query about the state of the art at the turn of the new year.