Billboards are easily the best way to be seen if you’re a hopeful politician. A good billboard and marketing plan can be the difference between visibility and invisibilty. But a bad billboard can undo a whole lot of the gains a month or two of baby kissing and businessman brown-nosing offers.
Last election I invited a team of Auckland experts to run a critical eye over the billboards of Palmy's council hopefuls. I couldn't afford them this year, but got in a similar group of Whanganui professionals for their views. They bought their own alcohol and a wealth of ignorance about Palmy's political scene...and the results were...interesting. Here's what they had to say about Team Smith's handiwork:
“You can’t say that about a fellow designer Chas!”
“He can,” said Daphne Demente of Demente’d Design, “because it’s true”.
Worriedly I reached for my filofax and started rifling through its leaves for the phone number of Derek Flombay, President of the Manawatu-Whanganui Designer’s Institute. I was doing this because Grant Smith, one of the owners and likely designer of the latest signs we were reviewing, is an actual designer and we were in very dangerous ethical territory.
“You can’t go accusing fellow designers of doing stuff like that! We’ll get censured by the Institute!” I pleaded.
“There goes my holiday in San Tropez...there goes the downpayment on my plastic surgery.” I thought to myself as I calculated The Institute’s fines.
“It’s those slanted lines on their billboards...they just make the signs look wrong...I can’t put my finger on it...they just look...oh I don’t know!” said an unusually lost-for-words Daphne as I flicked through the Institute’s rule book.
“Here it is!” I’d found it.
Rule 156B, subclause C, paragraph 7 read:
Never tell another designer what you really think about his/her work - to their face. Failure to comply with this rule will mean instant expulsion from The Institute and a fine of no less than 7 shillings and sixpence.
“Stop being a dick,” said Steve Choo from Whanganui’s most prestigious design studio, The Most Prestigious Whanganui Design Studio Ltd.
He had a compass and ruler in his hand and was taking measurements of the Smith sign. “Yep...there’s a 4.73 degree slant here. A big tick in my book. It makes them look fast and sleek...like a pair of 1967 Ford Anglias with racing stripes.”
Not impressed by Steve’s bogan design interests, Donna started puzzling over the complexion of Team Smith’s junior member Duncan.
“What is it with McCann’s tan? Is he trying to appeal to the ethnic vote or something”, said Donna.
“Is Sunburnt Scotsman an ethnicity?” said Gary.
“I like the way that when you see these two out on the town together, Grant’s sign is always on top...or in front. He’s clearly the boss...and Duncan’s clearly happy to follow. I think the way these guys are working together is really impressive. Same styling...different colours...showing a willingness to work together...but still clearly knowing their place.”
“It’s almost as if Team Smith is an actual political party,” said Steve.
“But Duncan still looks a bit embarrassed,” I thought as I put away my filofax and reached for a glass of Marque Vue...relieved that Steve had distracted the team from Chas’s accusation, but still shaking from my close brush with The Institute.
BUT SERIOUSLY: I know I'm harping on about it...if you're going to get your photo taken for any public display, make sure you know what it's going to look like before your signwriter or designer presses the Print Button...ask for a test print or contract someone who knows what they're doing. Skin tones are difficult to get right, but it's worth the effort if you can.
In the days of rubies, surgical knives and hot wax, the Bromide Room was where a designer could go to breath some toxic air, get away from the boss, and talk shit with someone from the production department. It's been a long time since then...but hopefully the shit I talk here is a fitting tribute to the days when the only thing that I really knew about design was that it was the only thing I
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