Dawn News

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The xerox ran vigorously downstairs as I impatiently typed my umpteenth email to a client who was typically on my case, eager to know how long will it take for me to enlarge his company logo on his already unpleasant looking poster. He had made 8 phone calls in the last half-hour, making sure that I was in all honesty focusing only on his massive logo. Apparently he was waiting at the printers and demanded urgency.

I stared out the window for that one tiny moment that I decided to give myself in that crazy day to ponder on this question – where had I landed myself?

I didn't expect people in London to be trapped in this ridiculous war of filling up spaces and plastering their company's name, all the while making the artist claustrophobic, leaving them disappointed that they once again failed to convince their client over what looks better and has more impact.

The phone rang, bringing me back to reality. Guess who?

"Hey, is it done yet?"

"Hi, yes I'm just emailing it to you."

"Oh, ok. Umm, how long do you think it will take?"

"Well, the file is just attaching and since it's a heavy file, it will take a few more minutes."

"OK. Just if you could it speed up a bit ... I'm holding back my vendor."

Despite my impatience, I assured him that I would have the files across to him as soon as I possibly could. Not that I could speed up the file attachment time, but what else can you say?

During the process of attaching the email and sending it, I received 2 more phone calls, which I patiently dealt with. By 4.30pm, the xerox downstairs had calmed down, unfortunately I hadn’t.

I knew if I wanted to work in any kind of an advertising firm, I would be better off in London than Karachi.

If I were working in a multinational firm, I would probably be dealing with people who were more open-minded about design. There is always so much to see in London that breaks all conservative boundaries and is truly inspiring. It is without a doubt a place more open to taking risks, and with an audience that understands those risks.

But it is the smaller design houses and studios, which have to deal with the rare species. I was a part of that. I enjoyed it initially until learning became stagnant. If I have to deal with the same situations, I'd rather do it in my own country. At least I'd have a bigger living space and not have to do my own laundry!

The phone rang again.

"Could you make the logo a little bigger? There's still room on the left..."

I opened the file again. And again. And again.

When you've dealt with clients who like to use their 'skills' to design their artworks themselves in Excel, and your job is to merely transfer that into a Photoshop file, this feels far better. At least I had the liberty to design the poster. So what if he ruined it with his magnified logo?

You become immune to these frivolous requests and work on them like robots, but with free will to not own the end result.

What saddens me is how insensitive and unemotional this journey makes us. This is not an accidental profession. I love what I do. I just don't want it to make me indifferent.

In all affairs it is often healthy to question things you have long taken for granted. Would I be able to live in a world that is indifferent about art? No. Is it right to leave things the way they are, when I know I have a chance to make a change, no matter how small it may be? No. Have I learnt enough? Is it OK to become stagnant? No.

I returned home because London was always only my adopted child. Karachi? My own blood. I hoped that if people like me were persistent, one day this design attitude would change. And I want to bring this positive change in my own blood, not in an almost perfect child.

As Bill Gardner once said, "Every night I pray that clients with taste will get money and clients with money will get taste."

This has now become my prayer too.

The writer is a New Media Design Manager at Dawn.com

The writer is a Multimedia Producer at Dawn.com. She tweets @mejmankani

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (7) Closed

May 16, 2012 01:01am
Good writing. "Change starts from me", and it is everyone's moral obligation to make that change, however small that may be. I wish our fellow counttry men and women get this message.
May 15, 2012 02:24pm
Such a sensitive piece of writing! If only we are able to nurture this sensitivity, this awareness to foster ownership to our origin on an individual level, will surely sublimate into national culture.
irfan bahadur
May 15, 2012 05:06pm
quite nice piece massive work.and direction given by writer is not easy to follow.the scene material is heavy and easy..the ending cover is just awesome and fine attitude while going down..
May 15, 2012 10:29pm
One can get used to any place, especially if one has the opportunity to pursue dreams and do what gives one satisfaction. When that is not possible, we enter into the realm of compromises - what can one give up to gain another advantage? What can one do without, or make do with, in order to put benefit from a different source? These compromises require one to understand themselves, what they are giving up, and what they have gained instead. That is called growing up.
May 15, 2012 01:55pm
Ahh...., man is never satisfied, no matter where he lives, its always chasing or following your dreams, but we all know pretty quickly what picture we land into. I am sure there are times we all look back and say to ourselves maybe the frying pan was not so bad. One can not change ones thinking,way of living, culture and inner peace. We all have to fight our demons in our own way. Regrets are always there but we do not share them as they show our weakness
sara khan
May 15, 2012 02:27pm
Ahh, so unclever, Just be wise enough and not get prosecuted over blasphemy or something like that. Yea while your at it, blend in to the dress code and make it as OUR SOCIETY likes it. We dont want you to teach our design :p Just be a blind sheep in the flock and let the Shepherds guide you through the shadows of the valley of death.... :) Have a great time in Karachi, and God bless Sweden :)
Naveed A. Jami
May 16, 2012 06:47am
Big and stubborn clients do make their own designs in Excel but isn't it ad agency's job to explain to the client what is righ and what is in appropriatet, a layout or a design is your brainchild and will carry your name. If I see a a flaw in a Poster or a design I would wonder who is there advertising agent. If you are in a position you should not compromise, but then there is always a Desi / Pakistani way of doing things.