Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Lurching Drunkenly Towards Bethlehem

Mom's business partner shows up after a two-month sojourn in his home country. He carries with him a pretty acetate portfolio containing the company's profile data and I am... speechless.

I wish I could say it was because the profile and ad inserts were so good they blew me away. They aren't. Given access to more money than Mom will want to release for design collaterals, any of our local cut-rate ad and design guys could do them better. My brief stints freelancing for Hinge and with Bald Man Media have made print layout flaws and no-nos easier for me to spot, and I have to be grateful to Danice, Russel and DarDar for that (even if I'll probably never work with them again thanks to the comlications arising from my familial duties).

I was speechless because I was shocked at my own inability to think outside the box concerning the same protfolio, which I was tasked in part to design. I could have done the same thing better on a really bad day. I'm asking myself just what the hell happened and the answers are coming up as I type.

1. In the first place, I didn't want to do it. (My problem: I'm a know-it-all maverick) I viewed the whole project as an onerous half-baked task handed down to me by a many-headed boss whose heads kept giving me conflicting instructions through a tactless intermediary because they couldn't agree on exactly what they wanted. (Company's problem: Vision and Goals.)

2. It was bad enough that the company bigwigs couldn't pinpoint exactly what they wanted. But that damned language barrier made things worse. (Common problem: Language) By the time instructions filtered down to me, they were... screwy.

I wound up designing a half-assed three-page pamphlet (not a portfolio) that depended on a lot of Freehand-generated gradients for its look.

This is exactly why I'm focusing on learning as many foreign languages as it'll take to hurdle the damned language barrier as fast as I can.

The company cannot, to be slightly sacrilageous, give birth to the Financial Savior if it can't make its way to Bethlehem without lurching drunkenly off course.

3. I was limited by my... I'm calling it my "Third World View" for lack of any better label. I cannot think out of everyone else's "box" because my own conceptual box was too limited by third world economics. All my life I've specialized in stopgaps, improvising solutions to publishing problems because I've never had the right tools, materials and training. (Many of the people I know in design picked up their software expertise on the fly.)

While it's great at showing up know-it-all foreigners who think they can blithely operate in any environment, it is fatal for me. I can't afford to be a know-it-all Third World rustic who postures vainly on the strength of his limited knowledge (which costs money, but that's another journal entry).

Maybe there is something to participating in the Great Filipino Diaspora. It's just too bad I'm too old to get on the bandwagon.


Anyway, I need to restructure my own goals given that the number of my optimal productive years are, to use a kind word, dwindling.

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