Short attention span theater


One of the things I like about design is that you wind up doing a lot of different types of work for a lot of different clients. In this sense, the job acts as a kind of zany docent of the world, leading you into various different realms of human enterprise and giving you fleeting examples of the types of people, attitudes, jargon, attitudes, attire etc. that populate each. One week, you’re doing a project for a box factory; the next week, a clown college; and so on. This is nice gimmick in terms of incorporating a constant (if superficial) level of variety to the job… you’re never exactly doing the same thing every day (unless you decide take a job for that box factory as their creative director, in which case you most definitely are).

One memorable realization of this perk happened for me in March of 2005, when I was working with a studio that had taken on an identity and packaging job for a new line of soaps and scrubs to be called Pomegranate Body. On our first day of work, I was sent off on my bike with a camera and two tasks: (1) buy a real pomegranate; (2) take photos of competing bath and body products in the nearby branch of Sephora, the hideous chain cosmetics store. Task 1 proved to be absolutely impossible in the middle of March (apparently the antithesis of pomegranate season); task 2 became imperiled when a beefy security guy told me that it’s prohibited to take product photos in Sephora stores. Being a somewhat lazy and passive person, I’m generally inclined to comply with such orders, but in this specific case is struck me that I had no need to go back to Sephora for the rest of my life, and that I had a very real and substantial need to get product shots. So, I continued taking photos for a few minutes in surreptitious ‘spy mode’, nonchalantly snapping very poor, blurry shots while keeping the camera out of eyeshot and pretending to be conscientiously shopping. Inevitably,  the security guy caught on and marched me (firmly, but civilly, I must say) out of the store to the curiosity of other patrons. Once I jumped on my bike, it occurred to me that I’d spent an few hours ‘on the clock’ shopping for a nonexistent fruit of ill-repute and getting thrown out of a perfume store. Beats workin’!

From time to time, my experiences give me a renewed appreciation for these random, short-attention-span-theater aspects of the designer’s job. Consider the juxtaposition of meetings I’ve had in the last 24 hours: yesterday, a middle-aged Chinese couple who market canned pork products to Central European countries; today, former supermodel Tereza Maxova’s charity foundation. Vive la difference!

(Photo credit: Tereza Maxova, by Flickr user Neon / 24)

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