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rue-madame's Diaryland Diary



The other day a marketing firm in San Francisco called, asking to see my portfolio. I was excited and flattered, asked the requisite questions regarding the project, timeline, etc, when it hit me like a truck: how did they get my number? Who gave them my name? Where had they seen my work?

It’s sort of strange knowing that you have been “tracked down.” I am not listed in Los Angeles, and I was neither listed in Paris nor in San Francisco. It’s a funny tactic, I know. How many people work actively to keep their business under the radar and out of the phone book? Terence calls my marketing strategy “witness protection.”

The woman on the phone said that her boss had seen some of my work in a typography annual (which was cool, actually, since publication last year cost me around $350 and when I sent in the materials and the check, I wasn’t sure that I would ever see a return on my investment.) So now my portfolio is in San Francisco, in some office suite on Market Street, hopefully being scrutinized by folks with a modicum of design savvy.

It’s not always evident (ce n’est pas toujours evident... French, again!) when you send in your stuff that it will be analyzed properly. Although I hate accompanying my portfolio and doing my little song and dance routine, I think it’s actually better because I can at least explain and elaborate, answer questions about concept or printing techniques. When you send in your work, you have no idea who’s going to be pawing through it. Someone who knows nothing about design? Someone who could kick your ass in hand-to-hand typography combat?You can’t defend yourself.

You may think you have an edge when you send your stuff to a company with a reputation for “good design” (whatever that means... define your terms) but you don’t always. One time, I sent my portfolio to an “artsy” publisher and after about two days, the manager sent it back. No note, no phone call, absolument rien. I tried not to take it personally, but I was bummed. I think I may even have called the manager to get feedback, and she didn’t call me back. At the time, I was knee-deep in snoring corporate communications, and I was looking forward to designing something different. Oh well.

I stewed for about a month. As though in a somnambulistic state, I would drift into bookstores and pick things up that had been produced by that very same publisher, and I would think to myself, “I could do that. Why didn’t they let me do that?” One day as I was indulging in more “poor me” shopping behavior, I zeroed in on an ugly thing... that had not only the publisher’s imprimatur, but that very same publishing manager’s design credit! And the design was HIDEOUS! Whoo eee, I felt so much better after that. Of course she didn’t like my work--how could she? She had no taste! Not only that, when left to her own devices, she had no grace or talent. I felt vindicated.

All I know is that I hope my portfolio comes back in one piece.

6:40 p.m. - 2002-03-27



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