sticky lingers

by Art Chantry (

I love seeing things like this. i was sent this by scott mcdougall (airbrush extraordinaire) and since he is also psychedelic poster/underground art geek, i have to assume this might actually be real. i’ve since seen it floating around the net, so i have no idea if he saw the actual document, or if he only saw the digital copy here. whatever the case, this thing reeks of authenticity.

I’m not going to even bother about all the fanboy “incredible piece of pop culture history” represented here. that really goes without saying. it’s sort of up there with jim morrison’s cub scout uniform or john lennon’s green card as far as importance goes – marginal but fascinating in it’s implications.

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there are several things i find truly impressive here. one of the things that really strikes me is how damned ugly (even by late 60′s standards) the rolling stones’ official business stationery was back then. thank god for john pasche and his tongue logo. that really spruced things up a lot.

The other thing that really blows me away is that, even though this is MICK JAGGER hiring his friend ANDY WARHOL to do a cover for THE ROLLING STONES’ uber classic record “STICKY FINGERS”, they still sweat the nameless beureaucrat in the record company closet who will obstruct the design process. very very strange. wouldn’t you think that there are actually certain people/projects that would be above that sort of client ‘interference’?

Now, don’t get me wrong. the design process is a collaborative artform. the client is essential to it’s existence, and essential to successful completion. every single design piece i’ve ever done has had a client. they are at least 1/2 of the creative process. i value the client’s participation EXTREMELY. without them this whole effort may sink into the morass of “fine art”. ick.

Of course clients come in all forms and shapes and sizes and intelligence. bad clients will always be bad clients. however, how you as a designer define the word ‘bad’ is the catch 22 here. my idea of a bad client is likely extremely different to what you may think is a bad client. it’s up to you to decide.

The best clients i’ve ever worked with are so actively involved with the creative process that they are at least 50% of the actual design. they interfere and cajole and threaten and command. they can be a real pain in the neck. but, the results are the best work i’ve ever done. that is a good client. they care about the process and the product and the results. they commit themselves to attaining the best that you can do TOGETHER. when that happens, it doesn’t get any better.

Of course, that is rarely the way it works out. the worst that can happen is a “surprise”. when a client suddenly pulls a new direction out his or her hat – on a whim, usually – it’s devastating. the whole house of card

llapses and trust is broken. like in any relationship, once that trust is broken, then it’s nearly impossible to rebuild.

Bringing up relationship therapy ideas is intentional here. working with people (aka ‘clients) is closer to councelling than ‘art’. if you think about it, an observation like that makes total sense.

When you take on a client, you have no idea where it’s going to go. they may approach you to do a poster, but by the time you are done, you may have completed a entire identity campaign. you just can’t predict the process and the path it travels.

Look at it this way: somebody approaches you for a logo. in order to correctly execute a logo, you have to get to know the client, their personality and their business. you have to research their market and their competition, their history and their anticipated future, you have to reveal to yourself the clients’ personal vision of his place in the universe and what role he sees his company playing in the grand pattern of the ‘kozmos’. no joke, you have to all this an so much more. it’s closer to jungian therapy (or babysitting) than ‘art’. then you have to take all of this information and insight and instinct and knowledge and reduce it down to a little b&w squiggle about the size of a penny. a logo.

If you are working for a corporation (aka – a committee operating on fear and guilt) , the process gets amplified by 1000. frankly, committees are impossible to work with in a design process. nobody ever makes decisions. you NEED decisions to be made in order to design anything. jes’ the facks, ma’m.

So, when i read this note from mickey to li’l andy? i see no way that it can result in a really great record cover. i anticipate and predict utter chaos and total failure. no other conclusion. right?

AC:i think the reason this process worked so well here is that mick is actually taking on the ‘decision making’ client role here. he is telling the contractor (andy) to ignore “them” and listen to “me.” i LOVE it when a client does that. there is nothing worse than hearing a client say “i’ll run this by the higher ups (aka- ‘legal’)” that puts the decision into a lawyer’s hands.

i can’t tell you how many times my client turned out to be nameless faceless lawyers. they will dictate color changes and layout changes and them hide behind their legal bottom line power. it’s crazy what happens when the contact turns out to NOT be the end point client, but a corporate lawyer instead. it can get really fucked up fast.

i’m sure it also helps that it was the legendary warhol as the contractor. how many middle management lawyers are going to tell somebody as huge as andy warhol what to do? man, if it were me, i’d be toast immediately. i’m just not powerful or famous enough. andy warhol? they back off out of intimidation.

every read tibor kalman’s experience trying to design a cover for the rolling stones? he wasn’t famous enough to survive.

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