Caution- Strong Graphic Content

Sep 17, 2010

Dear Dave,

My problem is simple. My daughter wants to be a graphic designer. Frankly, if she goes down that path, I don’t know how I can possibly explain it to family and friends. I’ve tried reasoning with her, but her mind is made up.

Any suggestions? I’m…

Tearing My Hair Out In Gunbarrel


Dear Tearing Your Hair Out In Gunbarrel,

Remember those gritty, ginned-up “scared-straight” documentaries they made back in the eighties? The ones where they had kids who’d been convicted of, say, shoplifting a roll of Lifesavers or riding their bikes on the sidewalk spend a day with a convicted murderer in the state pen?

“You know, there’s nothing I’d like more than popping your head like an overripe kiwi, you scrawny little milk-faced ratwhisker.” “Thank you, sir. I love how you’ve decorated your cell.”

I think the same treatment might be called for here. As unpalatable as this sounds, you’ll need to have a graphic designer come spend an evening at your house. Remember, this is your child’s life we’re talking about, so sit back down, quit whining, and grow a set.

Before you let a designer into your home, though, there are a few things you should know:

  • Designers were born thirsty. Make sure it has plenty to drink. Avery’s IPA should do the trick.

  • Have colorful, primitively-shaped foam or plastic objects on hand. Designers tire quickly of what we call “conversation,” and feel compelled to do something inherently useless with their hands.

  • Designers are notorious chewers. Keep valuables locked securely away in another room.

  • If it wants to talk about “white space” or the “rule of thirds,” by all means let it. This is precisely the sort of cortex-gagging nonsense your daughter needs to hear. Swallow hard and encourage it to carry on.

  • It will probably need more beer than that.

Even though this will undoubtedly be one of the more painful evenings of your life, you can rest assured that, after a few hours’ exposure, your daughter will never again gush shamelessly over Helvetica Neue Ultralight or refer to Adobe Illustrator as a “cool place to hang out and make swirly stuff.”

I know this seems like using chemo-therapy for a runny nose, but, trust me, this is nothing you want to fool with.

FYI, your letter may mark a new low point in my career. I’m actually thrilled to have it behind me.

Dave