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.