To all of the artists out there, whether it be photographers, painters, graphic artists, poets, writers, musicians and even to people who know nothing about arts, I want your opinion. I apologize for the long story that follows but I must give you the background story before I can ask the question.
To those people who know me and several who don’t know me it is no big secret that I drive truck for a major scrap metal company in Flint, Michigan as my day job. However it came as a HUGE surprise to most of my coworkers and bosses that I am a photographer and that I can dabble in graphic art and know so much about computers, websites and printing. The problem with being a truck driver is that the title comes with the stigma of being dumb, dull and dimwitted.
Recently the company I work for underwent many changes both major and minor. I can’t go into detail on that but imagine The Wizard of Oz for a moment. Remember the scene where the house fell on the green lady and some podunk country girl stole her red sneakers? Remember how the munchkins celebrated? Well, my coworkers and I are the munchkins celebrating.
To show our appreciation of these recent changes, many of which are still ongoing and some haven’t gone into effect quite yet, I created this simple piece of artwork, printed it as a 20×30 poster and presented it to the owner as a gift.
Yes it’s a filthy industrial window but the significance is that it’s the sun rising through the very window of our own shop. A sunrise I had been meaning to capture for well over a year now but as a truck driver I’m rarely in the yard at sunrise. On this day everything came together perfectly. Everything. It just so happened that on this day the new changes had begun, the sunrise was beautiful, I happened to be in the yard at sunrise and I happened to have my camera with me which I very rarely take to work.
I wasn’t sure if the owner would like it though. I didn’t know if he would think it corny or tacky. Nor did I know if he would even see the significance. Most of all, I didn’t know if he’d give a rats ass how WE felt as the last leaders we had did not.
That being said, I printed it out and went in to present it to the owner. He was touched. Okay, that’s an understatement. He was VERY moved by it. He immediately saw everything in it that I wanted him to see. I was actually dumbstruck by his reaction. And not just the owner either. Everyone in the office was moved by that one poster. They passed it around like a peace pipe at a powwow. (not to mention some of them were shocked that I created it).
Anyway, that poster was immediately matted and framed and now hangs proudly as the first thing you see when you walk into the office and it’s twin hangs in the owner’s office.
About a week later I heard through the grapevine that the owner was thinking of changing the billboards we advertise on. There are five billboards conveniently located just outside the fence of our yard at a major 5-way intersection. Over a year ago one of the people who used to run our company (into the ground) bought advertising on two of those billboards. However, he let the billboard company design them themselves. We all hated the billboard designs. They looked very cluttered, amateur and ugly. These are the two billboards…
Well as it turned out, the owner never liked them either and I had heard he was having them changed. Upon hearing this I worked up the courage to walk into his office and talk to the owner. I told him I heard he might be changing the billboards and asked if I might have an opportunity to design them myself rather than pay the billboard company to do it. He actually said yes.
I came home and immediately got to work on a new design. It took me two hours of searching through the website of the billboard company just to figure out what dimensions and resolution to make the image file. Then another two hours to design the billboard itself. Then I took it in to work the next day. The owner liked it but it didn’t say enough and wanted more lettering on it. So I came home and added more info. That took me five minutes since I left it as an open photoshop file for just this purpose. I sent in the updated image and waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally he looked at it and told me he wanted a couple other minor changes. So I came home and made changes. Another five minutes. Again I sent it to him and again I waited for a reply. After making changes one more time he was finally very happy with the design and passed it on to the representative from the billboard company. A total of around 5 hours work took almost 3 weeks to complete but I was very proud of the result. The image below is the design I came up with…
Now I’ve asked the opinion of a couple of my coworkers and they loved it. It is simple, clean, elegant and looks much more professional. Not to mention the cranes are from an actual photograph I took of our own cranes. We thought it was a bit too wordy for a billboard but as the owner reasoned, there is a traffic signal at that intersection which gives drivers plenty of time to read it. I guess that makes sense. And for those not sitting at the red light the Lorbec Metals still stands out to people driving by.
Now here is the problem, a few days later I got an email from the owner. It was a forward from the rep at the billboard company saying their “artist” made a couple of changes to MY design to make it easier for drivers to read and sent a copy of his design…
Needless to say, I was furious! They changed everything on it! Everything! Now I can understand changing the wording as I suggested that to begin with. And I can understand the red bars at the bottom making it easier to read but that is where the improvements end. Everything else they did was done merely for the sake of making changes and as far as I’m concerned if they don’t actually improve it they had no business changing it.
Let’s count all the changes they made that should not have been made. They made the gold band around Lorbec Metals smaller to the point where you can barely see it. Why? They changed the color of red and letters less defined to the point where it looks more blob like and less elegant. Why? They changed the color of “Buyers of scrap metal” and smashed the letters together so that now they are touching each other which screws up the illusion of depth as though the letters themselves were cut out of the image. Why? They changed the Lorbec symbol to a white symbol on a white background. Why? Look closely at that symbol, they also changed the font of the symbol. Why? The symbol I used had Lorbec’s own font. They changed Lorbec’s own font in their own symbol! Why? They removed the drop shadow behind the cranes. Why? They removed the font style on all of the other lettering as well. The font style that made them look like raised letters. Why?
Now this is finally where I ask YOUR opinions. Do you think I’m wrong? Do you think they actually improved the billboard or do you think they made changes just for the sake of making changes? Would you be furious? At one point I was proud of my image and the fact that I got to design the billboard for our company. A new look to represent a new day dawning at Lorbec Metals. I’m no longer proud of that fact as it is no longer MY design.