Category Archives: shoptalk


fending off vertigo

Yesterday was one of those run-to-the four corners of the city days. I had to run into Clayton to take care of some gov. paperwork for my dad. Snooty Clayton is the “county-seat” of Saint Louis – filled with high end restaurants, art galleries and law firms. I generally loathe going there for one reason… PARKING.

On the occasions I have to brave the area – I make it a point to treat myself to a plate of Zuzu’s enchiladas.

The day ended at the ballroom client’s space… But I wasn’t there for the Ballroom people – I was there for the construction / restoration company that owns and manages the building. By way of the ballroom folks, they’ve picked me up as their pet designer. We’ve been trying, for a month now, to get their damn wayfinding system I designed installed. Unfortunately – powertools and monkeybears are a bad mix, so I’m reliant on their maintenance people for the site installs.

Apparently getting subs to show up is a problem even for multi-million dollar construction companies. I’ve been up there three times so far for installs and the maintenance guys haven’t showed.

Needing to clock at least a couple of hours for the day – I helped myself to the supply closet and found a ladder and did one of the sites myself. (the hardware was already installed so all I had to do was put the panels on).

Anyone in “the biz” – check out B&N Industries. They’ve got totally cool, scaleable systems for displays. We used their “cable-mini” system and had them powder-coated locally. The plex panels were fabricated locally as well using vinyl lettering and 3M frost.

*Note – The Apple Store uses their cable system for their front-of-store displays. Endlessly configurable and deliciously minimal.


I’m talkin shop – not blogging.

pesistence of vision

I’m not angry at my shower – I just liked the light

You know if I had a blog – I should tell my virgo to go over the previous months and make a spreadsheet to track my moods. If you plot post activity – when there’s a lag, I’m either: Distracted, Grumpy, Bummed or Experiencing Technical Difficulties. As the wise and powerful chrisglass teaches us, “You shouldn’t hesitate to write about the bad stuff too”:

So… we interrupt this this long string of flowery awe-shucks ain’t life beautiful bullshit to take a few thousand words to BITCH, MOAN, SCREAM, HOLLER and BEAT MY MOTHER FUCKING CHEST.

I, like any other business owner, (especially my clients), have been doing 1st Quarter reports and stuff.

“They” keep saying the economy is coming back but I beg to differ – but while I’ve been ruminating about this for the last three days – I’ve realized something: The economy will “NEVER” come back to what it was in the 90′s.

I’ve been a two year old with chocolate sauce smeared on my face, trapped in my high chair and throwing a tantrum because my ice cream is gone… (because I ate it).

Everybody is freaking about money…. And while I’m busier than I was last year – I’m getting beat up regularly on price negotiations.

Here’s a perfect example… Client X who has me working on an identity needed another logo for a different project…. When asked “how much would a logo cost” – I gave my stock answer of: Logos start at $1200 and go up (way up) from there depending on how broadly you want it implemented.

The client balked and said they have a friend who’s a laid off agency grunt between jobs who’ll do it for $250. I saw the work yesterday… It wasn’t bad.

How can I compete with that? Now was the $250 logo flushed out to the nth degree complete with 10 page identity guideline booklet and multiple artwork CDs for the client like I provide? – I don’t know, I doubt it.

But who cares? Business owners don’t seem to be too interested these days in our craft. The intangible “vaule” of Design and the passion of “its” disciples takes a back seat to the bottom line.

The reverse to this argument of course would be: “If you’re so selflessly committed to Design then you should be giving your work away and be damn thankful your work is being used and you’re helping to make the world a prettier place.”

That’s great and everything but that doesn’t pay my house payment, my family’s health insurance or put food on our table.

I wonder what would happen when the next time I go to Costco and buy a box of colon-blow I tell the cashier: “No.. that’s too expensive… I’ll give you $1.20 for the box instead” – what would happen?

The design industry is, and has been, changing. Competing with hobbyists who run out and buy a mac and copy of PhotoShop and proclaim themselves Design Professionals has always been a problem. Mix in this the trend for overseas outsourcing for the really big accounts – thus hurting big agencies who then lay off staff, releasing them into the pool who will do logos for a couple of hundred bucks so they can eat this month.

But what do you do? – If I don’t bend, there’s a long line behind me willing to low-ball and pickup where I left off because they’re trying to survive too.

fech! pa-twooo-eee!

I’m done venting. and I’m sure as hell not blogging.

Actually – I’m thinking about out sourcing my blog. I hear I can get my blog expertly put together by a firm in Bangladesh who will work from napkin doodles and accept payment in chewing gum.


room with a view

Well… It’s official… We’re moving our studio. The talks with our friends with the loft downtown were successful and they’re going to let us set up shop in the corner of their HUGE space in exchange for design services.

Technically, for a myriad of bureaucratic reasons, we’re not really there. We’ll simply be vendors working on-site for a client… Our “official” business will be nomadic… (yes – there’s a way you can actually do that – and it requires carrying your business license in your car… The city of St. Louis is tedious when it comes to working with small businesses.

view overlooking Washington Ave.

The building is mid-restoration. Still dirty and funky… A welcome change from the dry-walled, drop-ceiling cave we work out of now. The building is primarily inhabited by photographers, artists and other designers and sits at the corner of the newly revitalized “urban-hipster” part of town. (St. Louis’ latest, mega-expensive, effort to gentrify downtown.) The area is peppered with lofts, night clubs, boutique stores and restaurants.

While anything dictated by someone else as “cool and hip” generally makes me snarl – I think the change in environment will be stimulating.

We’ll be taking over my friend, Jeanette’s old space. She gave us permission to box up her stuff which still sits frozen in time from when her and her husband moved to LA. It’s a corner with a great view but I’m afraid of heights so I’ll probably sit back from the window a ways.

I’m really nervous.
I’m really excited.
I’m really not blogging.