Quite while ago I attended the ADAC conference in Sacramento (maybe 1995?) and the Keynote speaker was Lou Dorfman. I have his business card here as proof. Proof that the I am a total design nerd and nothing will stop me from asking a design legend for their business card.
This is the beginning of a series of posts sharing some of my favorites from my business card collection.
Story goes—We were standing in the Men’s room in front of the urinals and he said to me “Quite a trip taking a leak right next to Lou Dorfsman?”, I guess the my fandom was showing. After washing our hands I asked him for his business card. He seemed quite impressed that I did (I guess not a lot of us business card collectors out there?) he even offered to take me to lunch.
I’ll never forget that it was his 75th birthday and he choose to spend it at a Design Conference 3000 miles from home and spent a little bit of time with me. I suspect he had a bit of design nerd in him too.
Lou’s card is printed one side, 1 color engraving on a light cover weight cotton sheet. It was considered inelegant back in the day to have a thick card. He said that his partner Harry Zelenko did the hand-lettering. Holy crap! look at it here enlarged:
Earlier in my career I developed a disdain for Art Directors that would ask me to imitate a style. First, I felt like I was stealing and secondly I suspected that the answer to the execution should be held in the content that was to be delivered. It is not to say that I am not influenced by style, I just don’t start there. One of our mantras here at Stancan™ is “Simple is not Easy, it represent clarity of thought.” If Stancan has a “style” it is the result of thinking, of solving problems.
Here is an excerpt from Milton Glaser’s “10 Things I Have Learned”
“STYLE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
I think this idea first occurred to me when I was looking at a marvellous etching of a bull by Picasso. It was an illustration for a story by Balzac called The Hidden Masterpiece. I am sure that you all know it. It is a bull that is expressed in 12 different styles going from very naturalistic version of a bull to an absolutely reductive single line abstraction and everything else along the way.
What is clear just from looking at this single print is that style is irrelevant. In every one of these cases, from extreme abstraction to acute naturalism they are extraordinary regardless of the style. It’s absurd to be loyal to a style. It does not deserve your loyalty. I must say that for old design professionals it is a problem because the field is driven by economic consideration more than anything else. Style change is usually linked to economic factors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when people see too much of the same thing too often.
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I recently rode a vert ramp in Echo summit and left with a gnawing feeling of failure. I did not ride very well, conversely I did not skate terribly. But, I still felt like a loser. After a bit more reflection I realized that I did not fall one time during our 5 hour session. That’s good, right?
No. It goes against one of the earliest lessons that I learned about life.
February 1977 Skateboarder magazine. Tony Alva said in his controversial interview, “If you don’t fall once in a while you are doing something wrong.”
￼Ah grasshopper, this is not just about skateboarding. It is and has been a beacon for me since I first comprehended its meaning.
Playing it safe has never paid for me. Not sure why, but I always feel worse playing it safe than being battered to a pulp. Skateboarding, Advertising, Design, dumb sports cars.
Case in point. Was New Coke a failure or just a bruised elbow on the path to world wide domination?
I believe it was a display of nimble thinking during a disaster and demonstrated the ability to capitalize on an opportunity to reward brand loyalty.
Let’s hear what you think. Best comment on this truth+dare post gets a shirt.
We recently finished up a :30 spot for Artown featuring UNDERLAND by Steven Petronio performing at Grand Sierra Resort.
Thanks to KNPB, Steven Petronio’s folks and Adrenaline Sound you would never guess the Frankenstein(ian) measures needed to create a commerical that is true to form. If you like Nick Cave or modern dance you should check it out.
I can’t wait to go! See you there.
p.s. Get a babysitter, mature audiences only.
Stancan™ Design Aborgine T-shirts are American Apparel, 2001 Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirt. Shirts are screen-printed with 8 colors and available in striped, black and white. Illustration by Joe Reno, whoever the heck he is.