Notes on ongoing projects (I am the Idiot).

Random notes on ongoing projects:

I am a Powerpoint Idiot

I struggled with the job of beautifying an existing PowerPoint presentation, intended for high powered people in the government. I could easily cruise through a 100-page book within 16 hours, but I took over 48 hours just to “fix” a PowerPoint file with 36 slides. I can’t deny that I am highly addicted to setting up meticulous grids (and baseline grids), defining typographic hierarchy systems (paragraph and character styles! first para space! 0p6 space after! discretionary ligatures!), carefully categorizing colour palettes, etc etc – before commencing design works. The first 12 hours with Powerpoint is about coming to terms with losing control. There’s no para style. There’s no tab ruler. There’s only a shift-return space-after or a return space-after. The little squares are defined as Grid. The little colour squares are defined as colour palettes.

The biggest inner struggle, I supposed, is grasping the idea that fly-ins are cool, flashy and impressive. Shoosh, a text box appears from the left. Wooo. A picture fade-zooms in. Aaah. A table dissolves into the picture. Static slides, to my understanding, is BORING. Fiddling with the custom animation box is horrifying. The list of names is incomprehensible – group 23, line 45, wooah. Unlike Flash, I realise I can’t rename anyone of them to something trackable. Timeline sequencing is almost non-existent.

I wasn’t looking forward to doing a Kyle Cooper or Garson Yu or a Why Not Associates thing, but to work with Powerpoint – to look at more fly-ins zoom-outs 3D word-art, isn’t exactly something I would like.

I am a Page Count Idiot

I quoted X amount for a newsletter layout job, for 40 pages of work.

I got a phone call from the client’s procurement division (the division that looks after costings). The question was – what if it was 44 pages and what if it was 48 pages. Would the design charges be reduced if it was 36 pages? My reply – if it falls within a reasonable scope of work, I won’t charge more for the additional 4 or 8 pages (or reduce if the page count is less). The client highlighted that in the past, certain agencies would quote a competitive rate for the required page count (just to get the job), but would charge an exorbitant increment for the additional pages because they weren’t prenegotiated. Therefore, it is necessary to make this clear before work is started. The suggestion is to predetermine a FA charge on every page.

I don’t like the idea at all. I always think that for editorial driven work, there should be the flexibility of expanding page count when necessary, or reducing if necessary. This allows the freedom to expand on stories, to enhance the manner they are presented. Even if it means just typesetting one 10-point Helvetica line across the page, so be it. To put an equal price tag on a three-column full-text page, a 1 photo/page, or a 1-headline and nothing else page are mathematically mind-boggling. I prefer to work with a preset budget and on a basis of give-and-take.

Please don’t make me reduce my charges because there are 4 fewer pages. It doesn’t mean I am designing less. I would be happy to do 4 unnecessary 1 big photo/page layouts just to make more money.

I am a Negaraku Idiot

I knew it would get there somehow.

“We think there’s no Malaysianness in the identity. Do understand that this identity will be carried by (a certain government ministry) and will be seen abroad. In order for them to endorse it, it must have some Malaysianness to it. Perhaps, the Malaysia red and blue?”

I knew it. Somewhere along the line, someone would feel that an identity that is to be endorsed by the government should carry some nationalistic elements. Someone would eventually rise up and DEMAND Malaysian colours to be incorporated. “The colours have to be displayed proudly, such that people know they are from Malaysia”

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to fight this. I don’t know how to change the mentality of a boardroom full of government officers, who are eagerly expecting to see some Malaysianness in identities. However – red and blue? Isn’t that Britain, America or Australia? Working by logical extensions – why aren’t all Dutch government projects in orange? Why aren’t all Swiss projects in red?

Maybe I should add a glorious Hibiscus somewhere.

That would be easier to sell.