. . . you can more or less be assured he's an arsehole. Here's a bit via Josh Marshall about a lobbying firm that sent mail to congressfolk purporting to originate from the NAACP and Latino interest groups. The stuff was fiction, forged by the lobbying firm. Nasty. But look at the lobbying firm's logo: it's 100% nutz and no finesse: a speed line and a starburst in ultimate letter of the founder's name. (Jack Bonner, we might add, looks like a cross between Freddie Mercury and Skeletor, and yes, you're welcome). This is arseholery in design: no competent designer would have proposed such a solution to a proper client; and no client worth its salt would have approved it. Graphic design is shorthand for a whole range of human experience: if you understand it, it can serve you (viz. Our President). If you can't be bothered to give a shite about it (viz. McCain), well: it may not lose you the election, but it won't help.
There are far too many clichés. Far too many efforts to re-frame an issue, its description and its language, in the effort to blur our understanding. Far too many attempts to quiet the already contemplative. To borrow from a practiced re-framer in John McCain, it should be about straight talk. And with that, comes a call for clear communication. Today "marks a new day" in American politics which should – fingers crossed – signal a sweeping change in the previously divisive and failed strategies of a shamed ex-President's son and his yellowed, graying posse. It couldn't happen too soon. This is when the real work begins; we have no excuses in that we have received exactly what we asked for.
There exists a personal summons by thinking people to serve this administration in some constructive manner. For designers it started long before the election, thanks at least in part to Shepard Fairey and Sol Sender who in their own ways demonstrated that solid visual design can inform and inspire in ways beyond expectation. Steve Heller, Bill Drenttel, and Ric Grefé have been typically lucid channels and yet perhaps the most effective calls for action have come from the voting game-changers themselves; the younger, often hushed side of the demographic. These voices, pens and pixels have pushed the discussion of design well beyond the duct-taped principles of Intelligent Design (which is neither intelligent or design but rather an assertion) to address issues related to the role of visual communications in society. Beyond Design for Democracy's call for a consistent and clear national ballot format, the Citizens Briefing Book focuses on even deeper issues related to design in a document intended specifically for its audience of one: the president. And designers of all stripes are coming together to address the important issues at hand. Poets, artists, filmmakers and designers are finally, no longer the enemies of state, but rather the avenues for statesmanship. We are moved to design cleaner energy sources and we are demanding personal, corporate, and governmental accountability in spending, consuming and saving. Design is everywhere and even a more mature societal construct is waking up to the fact that without careful attention, a lack of design can be at very least costly or disenfranchising, or at worst a life-and-death issue for future generations.
One line struck me as especially pertinent in Obama's January 18 pre-inauguration speech. He said, "But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard." Now I don't claim to know the origins of that idea or who originally coined it, but for me, it was Obama's clearest message. This is that moment. It's hard. To borrow from a tired cliché (and then let's agree to put them to rest), today marks the first day of the rest of our lives. Let's design it in a manner that is clearly defined and accessible for our children. And it's okay if it's beautiful.
Well, here it is. The biggest Tuesday of them all. The world over looks to the U.S. to see how we play this one, and with fingers crossed, hopes of change linger deep. This campaign has brought a bit of everything to the forefront; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the worldwide financial crisis, health care, race, gender, foreign policy, taxes, torture, trade, Tito, terror, snow machines, religion, fear, Fey, socialism, fraud, food prices, energy, independence, punditry, the poor, plumbers, politics as usual, friends, foes, family, and a whole lotta' talk about another old man's ability to "keep us safe" from (or for) all of the above. Campaigns are just that; a short-lived (or in this case-drawn out) stream of impossible promises. This one, it seems, has been as much about brand as it has been about breadth and we, as designers, have used our pens and pixels to further that cause. At this point, how it'll work out is anyone's guess.
So today, our work continues, with one eye on the closing polls and another on the client time clock. This Tuesday Flickr Set is a collection of many of the images designers have created over the course of this campaign. And yes, we do realize that there are many, many more. Providing for equal time, some of the presentations are nothing short of gorgeous and some of the sentiment is downright hideous. We believe this to be an appropriate illustration of the past 18 or so months. In any event, thankfully, tomorrow promises to be a different day.
We just received a note from the folks at Trollbäck + Company featuring this gorgeous set (click image for full set) of limited edition Obama buttons. By the time this post goes live, it's likely that one's options will be limited. Of course, we're hopeful. Instructions for first come, first served orders require providing a full name, full address and first and second set choices. Inquire directly by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: We received our set by mail this Saturday and it is, well, cute as a button.
I'd be remiss if I didn't address my general disappointment in Bill Clinton leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, but damn, can the man deliver a line. "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." Forgive me if this was borrowed from another source for which I am unaware, but it made me a bit misty for the good old days.
We are saddened and, frankly, a bit surprised to hear that Pinch pal Steve Novick apparently won't be advancing in Oregon's Senate race to face Republican Gordon Smith. There is little question that Novick gave fits to national Democratic party bore, Jeff Merkley, on his way to grabbing 41% of the vote in the primary. Merkley couldn't seem to decide what he stood for, but I'm guessing folks outside of Multnomah county were likely a bit baffled by Novick's whip-smart, say-it-like-it-is approach to Oregon politics. We look forward to tipping a Left Hook Lager with Steve as soon as the dust settles. Oregonian columnist Steve Duin provides a fitting campaign postmortem.
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