We all like a bit of DIY, don’t we? Bang up that shelf, doesn’t matter if it’s a bit wonky and there’s nails hanging out of it, I saved myself a few quid on a handyman, plus all the related hassle of finding a handyman, and waiting for them to turn up, etc. etc.
It won’t have escaped any professional graphic designer’s attention that this attitude has, in the last 20 years or so, entirely pervaded our field. Once we were the sole gatekeepers to archaic terms and equipment, squirrelling away in our garrets with films and bromides and scalpels and spray-mount, practising our arcane arts quietly happy in the knowledge that our rarefied position couldn’t be usurped by some young upstart with a Pritt stick and some scissors.
This is no longer the case, and the tools are available to all. To be used, and, sometimes abused. This might be a source of fear to some designers, their livelihoods melting away before them like a set of French curves in a George Foreman grill. It’s harder for me to feel and chagrin, though, as I started as a DIYer myself. Plus, many of these DIYers are not looking to rip anyone off or make a quick buck, they are simply people with no great means to hire a pro, but the desire to create something and make it look like a saleable item. I’m all for that, and I’ll help where I can. I like helping people. For a very modest fee, obviously.
One such situation occurred recently when I noticed on Twitter the fine folk singer-songwriter Jim Moray asking for some help with his latest project. He had come up with something in Photoshop and wanted to make sure the printers would be able to handle it, and just give it a quick check. I volunteered. The artwork looked fine, conceptually sound, and thankfully clean and simple. I suggested a couple of tweaks, and a suggestion for finessing the front cover – which happily Jim liked. He generously offered to pay for the consultancy – DIYers seeking help, please note.
Anyway, a month or two passes, a parcel is left with the neighbours, and ultimately retrieved. And there it is, the beautiful False Lights blue vinyl record, with the lovely lines I suggested adorning the front.
I’m listening to the storytelling electrofolk sounds of it now, and reflecting on what all this means. Something has been made, a beautiful something, I’ve wafted a bit of fairy dust over it at the end, and received fair recompense for my small amount of time. It’s no substitute for art directing something from the ground up, but as it involves fine music and good people, I’ll take it. Good luck to all involved.