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"There's nothing wrong with my design, it just needs to be more branded."

Martin's staff profile includes the following bio which I think Martin may have written himself:
"Martin has a degree in fine arts and is a Windows expert. If you have a computer problem, Martin is your man. When he is not solving problems that noone else can at work, he enjoys listening to live jazz, fishing and playing with his dog Tolkien."
Martin is also an aspiring graphic designer. His style can be likened to jazz in that only people like Martin think it is any good.
Two weeks ago, I was commissioned by the company Martin works for to redesign their marketing materials. As the designer of their current brochure (shown below), Martin took the news surprisingly hard.



While I commend anyone expressing creativity with whatever tools they have available, owning copies of Photoshop and InDesign does not make you a graphic designer. I have owned a hammer for years but that doesn't mean I can build a house. I would give it a go but I am not stupid enough to think it would be pleasant to look at or up to code.
I did build a squirrel house recently though. It took me an entire week. You can click here if you want to see it. It looks alright in the picture but two weeks later it rained and all the wood bowed and the nails popped out. I saw it collapse the other day and had to lift the roof to free a rather pissed squirrel.



From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 10.06am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Brochure

Hello. Louise asked me to send you the brochure files. I'm quite excited to see what changes we are making. Do you want the indesign files or just the text and images? If you are just changing the images I could do that here if you wanted. I know how to use Indesign.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 10.13am
To: Martin Buchanan
Subject: Re: Brochure

Dear Martin,
Thank you for your email. While I appreciate the offer, I will not require any existing components for the redesign.
Regards, David.
From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 10.25am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Brochure

Are you going to just make it more branded or redraw everything? That seems like it would take a long time when I already have the files. Are you changing how things look? I don't think it needs a big change just the photos on the back need updating and the new web address. Do you want me to copy and paste the text and the images into an email for your changes or do want to tell me what changes to make and I make them?
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 10.37am
To: Martin Buchanan
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

Hello Martin,
Your enthusiasm is commendable but I do not require any files from you at this stage. I have been commissioned to redesign the complete suite of marketing materials and this includes the brochure. If for some reason I do decide to use any of the existing graphic components, a quick search on Google for 'clipart of man holding clipboard' and 'blue wiggly line for no apparent reason' should suffice.
Regards, David.
From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 10.51am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

The blue line represents growth, like on the stock market. There's nothing wrong with the current design, it just needs to be more branded. If you add more brand without changing the design and update the photos it will be perfect. Do you want me to send you the logo? Are you changing the text?
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 10.58am
To: Martin Buchanan
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

Hello Martin,
While I will be using segments of the current text, primarily the words 'and' and 'it', the majority will be rewritten and the logo, which appears to have been created by someone with severe Apophenia, needs to be redrawn in a higher resolution than the current 6x8 pixels.
Regards, David.
From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

No it doesn't. What bits are you changing? You should just send the text changes to me and I will make them on the files. It doesn't make sense to change how the brochure looks too much. We shouldn't be changing it at all, it's just a waste of money. We've still got four boxes of the current ones left downstairs. It would make more sense to print stickers and stick them over the old web address on the back. I designed that brochure and it has had a lot of good feedback.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 11.36am
To: Martin Buchanan
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

Hello Martin,
Your mother stating "That's nice dear" probably falls under the label of encouragement rather than feedback.
I often tell my offspring that he is talented despite the artwork on our refrigerator clearly illustrating the opposite. I commended him last week on an excellent representation of an octopus only to find out that it was meant to be a car. Unfortunately, confidence through encouragement does not automatically equate to capability. If I were to use my offspring's artwork on a brochure for the Ford Motor Company, feedback comprising of "Is that a fucking octopus?" would be far more likely than "This will sell a lot of cars, just add some clipart of a man holding a clipboard and a blue wiggly line and it's good to go."
While some people might describe the current brochure as sophisticated, message driven, and on-brand, those people should be reminded that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.
As a designer, I do understand attachment to something you have created and that other people's opinions are merely hurdles constructed of inanity, but as every component of a company's marketing materials define that company's brand message, which in this instance appears to be "look at how many different typefaces our computer has", the decision to hide them in the basement was probably a wise one.
Regards, David.
From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 11.57am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

They're not hidden, they're on a shelf. Obviously you're going to say my design isn't very good so you can justify charging to redesign it. Everyone who has seen the current brochure has said it is amazing. Ive got a degree in fine arts and I've done an advanced course in Adobe. I probably know more indesign than you do. Art is subjective. I branded it to appeal to our customers, they don't want modern looking things.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 12.19pm
To: Martin Buchanan
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

Hello Martin,
The company you work for sells water heaters. I might be missing something but I fail to understand how stock market graphs and rainbow gradient backgrounds relate to warm showers.
While art is certainly subjective, it has also been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it, maker and beholder meet. Unfortunately, in this case, the tryst would be the emotional-connection equivalent of a quick handjob in a K-mart toilet from a middle-aged shelf-stacker named Rhonda in exchange for half a packet of Marlboro Menthol lights.
That's not to say the current design is completely without its merits. Running multi-coloured drop-shadowed type to the very edges has effectively removed the need to fill in all that annoying negative space with more clipart and, having chosen to ignore the corporate colour, using every other colour was an interesting approach. When Louise first handed me the brochure, I thought she was inviting me to a rave.
If nothing else, your style is certainly unique. During my twenty-odd years of working with professionals in the design industry, I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it. Once the redesign is completed, I am happy to send you a proof following pre-press and you are welcome to provide any suggestions you may have at that time.
Regards, David.
From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 1.08pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brochure

Don't bother sending me a proof. I'm not going to be here next week and I'm not interested in seeing it or reading any more of your bullshit anyway. I'm busy organizing a fishing trip and leave tonight. Convincing people they need to redesign things when there is nothing wrong with what they have so you can make some quick cash just makes you a con artist. I've got more talent in my little finger than you have in your whole body. Dropshadows lift the type off the page as if they are 3D. You probably don't even know how to do them. Have fun redoing the whole brochure without any files. While you're sitting at your desk redrawing everything next week, I will be relaxing in a chair with my new Shimano rod and laughing.
From: Louise Brown
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 3.22pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Files

Hi David,
Just wondering if you received the brochure files. We have the photographer coming in on Monday so can hopefully get product shots to you mid week. Have a great weekend.
Louise.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 3.35pm
To: Louise Brown
Subject: Re: Files

Hello Louise,
Looking forward to seeing the photos. I have been in contact with Martin but he has not yet sent through any files. He is probably just preoccupied with organising his upcoming fishing trip.
If you could give him the following list of items I require before he leaves, that would be appreciated:
1 x rainbow gradient background.
36 x typefaces used.
1 x clipart of man holding a clipboard.
1 x image of wiggly blue line.
1 x logo in 6x8 pixel .gif format
1 x copy of his upcoming book 'Drop-shadows. A Guide by Martin Buchanan.'
Thanks, David.
From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 3.57pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Forwarded: Re: Files

I'm not sending you anything bitch.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 4.38pm
To: Martin Buchanan
Subject: Re: Forwarded: Re: Files

Dear Martin,
I understand, you are no doubt busy organising your fishing trip. To help you out, I have whipped up the invite for you. It is based on your brochure design but I added clipart of two men shaking hands and a clock to represent time spent with friends because there was a bare spot in the bottom right corner. Enjoy your break.
Regards, David.

From: Martin Buchanan
Date: Friday 8 Mar 2013 4.50pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Forwarded: Re: Files

I will. Enjoy sucking dick.


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