a brief history of something

April 28, 2009 — Leave a comment

in writing about my travels and travails in 2000, i mentioned briefly mentioned `the project` but never got into any details about it. it wasn`t anything top secret but years later it`s still one of my favourite pieces in my portfolio.

first let me give you some background. i started in the advertising business as a typesetter but my interest in design was peaked one summer when i worked at a printery.  we have a one color Heidelberg press that required a blood sacrifice before every job. the Heidelberg was an old fashioned letter press, you had to pick your letters and numbers out of a box, put them in a frame, add your leading and your spaces, use the kerning knife to scrape the sides of the letter blocks. then when you thought you were done, you locked the whole thing in place and you put on the press and ran a sheet to check. because of the sharp edges and the heavy blocks of type the likelihood that you`d get cut or squeeze your fingers in something was pretty high, hence the joke about the printer requiring a blood sacrifice. the owner of the printery had actually lost the top two knuckles of his right hand to the press before i even started there.

so with my interest in printing and design peaked, i started work at an advertising agency as a typesetter. this was in the early days of the transition to computer graphic design. we had 13 fonts on a Mac SE and the traditional designers would come in, specify a type and size they needed, i`d type it up and we`d send it out to one of two companies that actually had a laser printer at the time and if we didn`t have the typeface on the computer, we could request one that the output house had. and if they didn`t have it, there was good old Letraset.

i could go on reminiscing about the good old days but they only lasted about a year and a half and that`s a story for another day. the agency i worked for, had the fortune and misfortune of having my name on the building. the fortune being, when i called vendors, they usually responded, the misfortune being people thought i was a close relative of the owner and expected me to coast along. coasting is not my speed. i spent five years at the agency and then they merged and they were filled with art directors and creative directors and more designers than you could shake a stick at, so i requested a lateral promotion to the sys admin job that i`d been doing and they denied me, so i quit and the agency imploded.

i did freelance design for a little while and then i got lured back into another agency and the only job i`d ever been fired from. which in itself is strange because the guy that fired me recommended me for another job and everytime i ask, writes the most glowing references. after i left that job, i swore that i was out of the advertising industy for good and like all such threats, it went the way of the dinosaur. in three months i was back at another agency thinking i was going to be working with a creative director i had a great deal of respect for. his last day was the day i started, which was interesting to say the least. they hired another creative director who i got along with fabulously but i had problems with management so i quit, not just burning that bridge but applying copious amounts of dynamite on my way out. hoping against hope that i wouldn`t get sucked back into advertising again.

fortuitously, at the same i left that job, a friend of mine offered me a place in his studio doing pretty much whatever helped pay my way and about a month after i started that, i got a job being webmaster for the national airline, which is a whole batch of stories on its own.

during my first trip to London, an ex introduced me to a friend of hers who was running a production company. they did promotion for up and coming artists, urban marketing and trend prediction and what turned out to be their last hurrah as a company they organised the Playstation 2 launch in London.

working on this project actually completely disenfranchised me with advertising and marketing in Trinidad, which always was and still is a hard sell. this launch was subtle, everyone on the planet knew what a PS 2 so why make launch a hard sell, instead  they went with Mi Corazon, the Summer of Low Rider.

the concept was to bring Lowrider culture from LA to London. and it wasn`t going to be a half measure; cars, bikes, people, all had to be organised, paid for, transported and hosted. and the people who couldn`t make it, had to be photographed and recorded. it was a logistical nightmare and my job in all of this?

i designed the logo, the powerpoint presentation and the website and keep the computers running. i had a blast. i`d never worked on a project of that magnitude and this was the real world. in Trinidad, everyone knew who i was and knew my work, here i was in London, a tiny, insignificant fish in a huge pond and my work could stand the test.

i realised as i was writing this, aside from the logo, i don`t have anything else for this project. the cd that i`d backed up that years work on is scratched and damaged so all the image files that make up the website are inaccessible. i should try harder to recover those materials, because without this project i don`t think i would have had the confidence to make a lot of changes in my life since then.

it`s also kind of weird in this day and age, where you can google anything i can`t seem to find anything about the event.

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