graphic designer revenge

by Art Chantry ( )

never ever trust a graphic designer. we ALWAYS get the last word. we are masters of an visual language that everybody understands, but nobody KNOWS they understand it. if you are nasty to your graphic designer, they will get even with you in ways you can never ever guess. you won’t figure it out until it is WAY too late (if ever). since i was writing about perverts in sports the other day (aka that coloring book cover), it only seems appropriate to talk about my own industry and the perverts lurking here, too. seems fair, right? i’m an equal opportunity offender, first and always.

this is a 12″ picture disk product for the 1970’s version of Barbie™. it’s sappy. it’s all about hanging around the campfire singing songs with your little pals. what could be more sweet and innocent (and comercially exploitable)? i mean, if you want to suck dollars out of the little kiddies parents pockets, this is perfect for that! what loving parent out there WOULDN’T dream of their little precious participating in this activity, eh?

AC:i've done so many little inside jokes like this that i can't count them all. in fact, people come to me expecting my designs to be full of inside jokes. it's a given. they WANT it. it makes them feel 'cool.' it's called 'indie cred'. always for sale....

look closer. look at barbie’s crotch. see that hot dog? that is NOT an accident. get my point? them kids don’t miss that stuff, but parents are blind to it. this is classic case of ‘graphic designer revenge.’

there’s another little subtle thing about this image, too. this is something i discovered by accident way back in the 1980’s, when i had to deconstruct and old piece of graphic design in order to re-create it accurately as a parody. i was hired to do a fancy xmas card for a friend who ran an ad/marketing agency. his name is mike mogelgaard and his seattle agency was considered the hippest, coolest and most outrageous agency in town. so, mike’s xmas cards had to be snarky and extreme, right? that’s where i came in. he would hire me to design his xmas cards.

one year mike came to me and wanted to do a flexi-disk xmas card. he’d hooked up with a guy who made a living as an elvis impersonator – on disk! basically, he looked nothing at all like elvis, but he could sing exactly like him! so, the idea was to do a ‘blue christmas’ flexi-disk with new lyrics referring to mike’s clients in fun and snarky ways in the recording itself – ‘just like elvis woulda’! mike himself did the narrated bits. it was hilarious. of course, it was up to me to make the actual card as appropriately fuk-tup™ as the idea of the fake song. so, we chose the famous elvis record cover “50 million elvis fans can’t be wrong” – the one with elvis wearing a gold lame suit and peppered all over the cover in different sizes. we even had a red lame santa suit made for mike and had him photographed in the same pose. it was perfect.

as i tore the original design apart and replaced elvis with mike, i discovered a little ‘graphic design revenge’ joke that had probably gone unnoticed since the elvis record was first released. because the flexi-disk required to us to drill a hole through the entire xmas card (including our faked elvis cover), i discovered that the ‘peg hole’ for the the record turntable popped right in the middle of elvis’s groin! so, when you placed the flexi-disk xmas card on the turntable, the spindle post stuck STRAIGHT UP from his crotch like a giant erection! this was no accident – some designer did that on purpose, knowing full well that nobody would ever see it. strangely, as technology changed over time, somebody eventually would discover the joke – and that person turned out to be me! i felt honored and delighted and laughed out loud. then we moved the position of mike’s elvis figure so that wouldn’t happen when people played OUR flexi-disk. after all, it was a business greeting card and we couldn’t offend EVERY client. we had to be selective. it’s a SCIENCE!

look again at this sweet barbie™ image. spot where the spindle hole falls. that is SO CLOSE to the anatomical location where, well, this hole would do the most offense, that this is not an accident. this snarky graphic designer did the SAME joke that the guy who did that old elvis cover did. he tried to place the hole in the disk right in barbie’s™ crotch. obviously, because it was a ‘picture’ disk, even the dullest mind in the room could spot the ‘joke’. so, they obviously made the designer move the image around to miss the that ‘sweet spot.’

but, i think this was a ‘red herring.” basically it was a distraction from the other joke they really wanted to pull off. frankly, that’s another little trick we graphic designers do all the time to our clients. we intentionally put in something wrong for the client to ‘fix’. that way they get to shove their fingers in the icing and feel like they’re in control. we still get exactly what we want because the client is too busy licking his fingers to see the bigger picture. it’s HUMAN NATURE. and graphic designers do that trick all the time.

so, that hot dog remains. the hole placement was moved beca

the designer wanted to distract the stupid arrogant client away from the naughtier joke.

never trust a graphic designer. and never ever piss one off….


AC:another little piece of visual evidence that backs up my theory that this image was moved to re-position the peg hole: if you look at the entire illustration, it’s off-center. the outside edges are closer to the image where it was moved in the direction. study it and you’ll see it’s obvious. that illustrator really DID place the peg hole in barbie’s™ crotch….but a hole in barbie’s™ crotch is beyond the pale. they had to fix that. a hot dog? “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” – s. freud…. about “barbie-doll killers?” it’s something that cops try to keep an eye on. in the development of some twisted souls, there comes point where they start to do terrible things to barbie dolls. many shrinks think it’s only a next step to humans. so, whenever barbie doll killers leave any evidence around, it’s noticed by authorities and cataloged. i’ve seen photos of guys dressed in full camo out in the woods standing next to their trucks with the tail gate down, proudly displaying their weapons and their “kills” – which is a line of bullet riddled barbie dolls. it’s REALLY creepy. this smacks of barbie-doll killer humor…. in that mid/late 70’s nperiod, acid was a total dirt drug – really cheap (75¢ a hit). around here in tacoma, only GI’s and white trash used it (basically my friends). mountain dew and absinthe cost serious $$. this is acid washed…. by the way, the flip side of this disk has the barbie™ gang all playing with an SX70 polaroid camera. so retro!…

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