The Day Job

Raise the flag. Sound the trumpets. Light the beacons. Put the kettle on. I have returned.

My friends, I apologise for being away so long. Rather than making a start on all the grovelling and forgiveness-begging I am due, I have instead decided to jump straight back in with an actual post. In light of what’s been keeping me stressful in absentia,1 I thought it might be interesting prudent to tell you all about what I actually do.

I am a trained and qualified Graphic Designer. Whenever I tell people this, I get a nod, and sometimes a ‘ah OK’, because whilst everybody has heard of the job title, nobody really knows what it means.

Put simply; it is visual communication. It’s storytelling using pictures. If people realised how obvious this is we would not be able to charge the prices that we do. I am exceptionally lucky in that I am able to exercise my creative muscles on a daily basis and call it a career, and in many ways am really taking the piss by not being content with that and writing a humour blog and a sitcom on the side.

You will be pleased to know, however, that my career is yet another source of crippling insecurity on a daily basis. I have a cycle of worries regarding my job that go a little something like this:

***

 I worry that as a ‘visual person’ I am at heart tremendously superficial.

I indulge my other interests to become a fully-rounded, well-adjusted, multi-faceted, overly-adjectified person: write things, read things, see stand-up, buy records, attract hot babes, etc.2

I worry that I am neglecting my career.

I buy expensive design books and start another ‘portfolio enhancing project’ like a poster series or animation.

 I remember I am supposed to have some sort of social life.

 I call up a friend, they ask what I’ve been up to and I say ‘nothing’.

I take a long look at my life.

I worry I am worrying too much about everything.

I realise I’ve wasted too much time already worrying about worrying about worrying.

I go back to work to make up for lost time.

Repeat ad infinitum.

***

As well as this, design is a thankless job. It’s comparatively well-paying as a career, but this is a fair trade for the endless extra hours you will work (for no overtime) because the client wants it ‘amended’ (changed entirely) and sent back before the end of the day. ‘I’m sorry the display is exactly as dictated the agreed brief but you don’t like it anyway, I’ll just work another eight hours tonight (not an exaggeration) for your benefit for free.’ And yes I’m passive-aggressively hinting at YOU, property magnate in Manchester.

Because the nature of a good chunk of design is ephemeral (so slick you don’t notice it’s there – sometimes I don’t know why I bother) there isn’t a lot of respect for it as a usage of one’s time. My nan doesn’t think it’s a ‘real’ job, and thinks I’m an artist. This is inaccurate, and a little demeaning to both myself and any artists who might be reading this; artists express themselves, whilst designers express things on behalf of other people, and thus are at once creatively active and stifled, like a neutered dog in heat.

That said, I am uncomfortable calling myself a ‘creative’, even though it’s what I do all day every day. It sounds to me like one of those adjectives that is bestowed upon you by other people3, and is increasingly very difficult to quantify. Anyone with an Instagram app will call themselves a photographer, anyone who owns Photoshop will call themselves a designer and anyone who’s been on Cracked.com and read something about fonts will shout ‘Comic Sans! LOL’ and call themselves a typographer.

It’s a shame that these once-respected avenues of expression are being eroded by trivialisation. Typography, as a subject is quite fascinating; there’s so much consideration in making content readable and inflected with the right ‘feel’, and there’s some genuinely interesting things to be learnt.

Gill Sans

You’ve got to draw a line somewhere and it might as well be between your dog and your third daughter…

And whilst we’re on the subject, can we all get over the Comic Sans bashing? It was funny at one point but now it’s just sad. It’s been kidnapped by that odd group of people who mercilessly hate something and pretend it’s taste, like they did when Lynn Truss brought out ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’.

Comic Sans

I don’t really have a problem with Bieber, although his music isn’t my ‘thing’ – he’s very responsible and well-adjusted for someone at his level of fame. What I DO have a problem with is hype. If you’re a Belieber and you’re offended by this message, please consider that any resentment either of us may feel is entirely your fault. So there.

I got into graphic design because, like many of you here, I wanted to tell stories, and one day I hope to get out of it, for the same reason. I love the work – obviously – it’s exhilarating, but it’s a far from easy life, and there’s a reason why I have this other creative outlet here. If you should ever find yourself (and if you want it, I hope you do) in a situation where your income is a direct reflection of the frequency and quality of your ideas, I think you’ll see what I mean.

Allow me to sign off as the ungrateful prick I am clearly becoming. I’m off to have my cake, eat it, then take a chunk out of the hand that feeds. I reckon humble pie will be on the menu too.

Rant over. Bon appetit.


1 Good name for a bad song, that.

2 One of these is a deliberate lie, just to see if you’re paying attention. Answers on a postcard.

3 To illustrate my problem with these sort of words, I’ll use it in a sentence; ‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly get a job and contribute to society, I am a creative.’

Here W-Ego Again…

There are two things in this world that I can’t stand: arrogance and pretension.

By the way, welcome back to my awesome blog that’s all about me and and is my superb creative outlet for all my important, interesting problems.

I am here today to apologise for my absence. The Day Job demanded that I give it my undivided attention for six weeks or so, and I obeyed. I logged out of my WordPress account because y’all are too interesting, and hence distracting.1

Anyway, I write to you today in humbleness. This is a problem because I’ve actually spent the last six weeks working on something rather special and brilliant and I’d like to tell you all about it.

Now, I’ve done some comparatively awesome things in my short career. Many of them would be unappreciated outside of the industry, a few of them (TV work mainly) are limited to being impressive in this country, but the one so impressive and intense I’ve had to stop blogging for is for the BBC.

Before you get excited, I was doing visual work for the radio arm of the BBC. My next project will be a nationwide ad campaign for chocolate teapots.2

That said, the work (still not finished, by the way) is currently being very well received and one finished component is circulating the Beeb’s social networking outlets. I made the BBC’s Official Youtube Channel. I feel that this is legitimately quite cool.3

Cactus

This is as much as I can show. This shelved cactus is such a minor feature that it didn’t even get paid an appearance fee for it’s trouble.

***

Now, I can’t abide bragging, but if there was ever a time to get into it, that time is now; however, I can’t really talk about it in any further detail without giving my identity away. My secrecy is something I feel is important to this blog, as I would probably share much less if I thought someone could trace my tender side back to the real me.

What this means instead, is that whilst I want to tell the world that I’ve done something I’m actually proud of, I can’t provide details, and so am limited to saying ‘I am awesome’, which makes my skin crawl. Part of me wants to numb it by instead suggesting that ‘I am quite good at something’, but newcomers to this here blog would still see that as arrogance, as they would not have the benefit of context.

What this work has enabled me to do, aside from enhance my portfolio, pay the bills, and make in-roads towards a career-move to television, is to finally blog about perhaps my biggest overarching anxiety – the fear of being seen as a pompous, self-important prick. It took something awesome for me to be able to say ‘I am awesome, but I only think I’m alright. So don’t hate me.

I find myself going out of my way to appear humble, and to appeal to people’s better nature, perhaps because I have always been a ‘beta male’. I know full well the extent of my talents, and am well aware that I have many faults and failings and have much to learn.4 I can’t look at any of my work without seeing faults, for example. ‘Perfectionism’ is a somewhat dirty word,5 but high standards for oneself are a double-edged sword. I would like to say that I’m my own worst enemy, but I imagine that by saying that I would tempt fate into providing me with a arch-nemesis. Actually, I’d love an arch-nemesis. I’m my own worst enemy.

What I hope you understand, is that I don’t intend to let this success change me. and for all of my achievements I am, in actuality, vehemently uncool. I am but one wisp of a man struggling against the winds of time, and cosmically speaking, I am next to nothing. I am flattered that you all think my thoughts are worth reading, and I that you feedback to me with comments is currently both a cause for delight and burning shame.

***

Fortunately for my schedule/sanity, I never promised a post a week or anything like that, but the thought of not posting once per month is unacceptable to me. I have, however, procrastinated even in this simple act, and am noticeably posting on the last possible day in September, to keep a promise I made as recently as the start of this paragraph. I’m a fool to myself.

I hope to be blogging regularly again by mid-October. I will keep this promise because guilt is my best motivator. There’s a raft of ‘material’ I need to take forward and give structure to, which I’m particularly excited by and hopefully will be lauded to the high heavens as self-indulgence of the highest order ‘good’. I believe this is what’s known as a teaser.

My apologies once again for leaving you in this chasmic lurch. I will respond to any and all comments the moment this work is signed off.

My thanks to the few new folks who’ve followed recently, I’m so sorry for being neglectful, especially as many of you are WordPress heavyweights. What on Earth must you think of me?6 I will read up on blogs old and new as soon as possible.

Please bear with me, I’ll see you soon.


1 That’s right, I referred to you all as ‘y’all’. Evidently interacting with the Americas has its side-effects.

2 The first project I did at University that earned me industry attention genuinely involved selling ice to eskimos. One day I hope to design something sensible.

3 In the interest of full disclosure, the video has four dislikes, which means that legitimate coolness is either not for everyone, or that my work is neither legitimate nor cool, which would be a colossal waste of my time. I hate Youtubers.

4 Whilst I’m not petulant/stupid/a fourteen-year-old enough to self-diagnose myself from Wikipedia, there’s a psychological phenomenon I may be somewhat privy to called ‘The Impostor Syndrome’ which feeds self-doubt into the assumption that you’re actually a fraud, and that your inevitable unmasking is only moments away. This is a tortuously unpleasant way to live your life, and yet I appear to have described it in a manner similar to an episode of Scooby-Doo, which if anything just reveals that this writer/humorist schtick is similarly hokum.

5 Not as dirty as ‘boobies’, though.

6 Probably a stream of profanities according to taste, followed – somewhat ironically – by the word ‘unfollowed!’

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Hello all. I am super-busy with work at the minute, and am likely to remain so for a while, so busy that I am unable to respond to comments from up to four posts back. (Not so busy as to not write a post, eh Mr. Busybiscuits?)

In the meantime, I have prepared this; the post I did about Facebook was a moderately popular one, so here’s another highlight from my personal social archive. It concerns the time I met and did some work for arguably popular British R&B sensation Lemar. It was quite sensational. He’s a sensation. Sensation. Yeah.

If you don’t know who Lemar is, good. The ironic lack of celebrity will make it funnier.

If you look at the bottom, you will notice Comedy Terence showing up two days late with the wrong end of the stick, devoid of grammar, laughing at his own joke, and spelling the key word wrong. As per usual. That man is a stand-up, ladies and gentleman. I realise I haven’t written very much about him, so this ‘as per usual’ schtick is largely ephemeral, but you get the gist.

Anyway, I hope you appreciate this lazy bit of filler candid sneak peak into what minor celebrities get up to, with specific reference to urination. Enjoy, and I’ll get back to you all hopefully this week.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous