Don and Rachele reminisce about design-by-hand and discuss technology’s influence on how design plays out.
Don Mock 0:19
Mock the podcast.
No, you’re supposed to save that for the end. That’s what it does at the end.
Rachele Mock 0:24
I know, but everybody thinks it’s my voice and it’s not.
Don Mock 0:27
I know. Are you upset that it’s not your voice?
Rachele Mock 0:29
I thought I was the voice of MOCK the agency.
Don Mock 0:32
All right, well, Episode 52. We’re back. As you can tell, that is not Rob’s voice. That is Rachele’s voice. She’s back again. Welcome back, Rachele.
Rachele Mock 0:39
The other important R in this world.
Don Mock 0:41
Yes. Two Rs, two Rs. So you stopped by for lunch, and I said, Hey, let’s do a podcast. Super fun, always fun. Two designers, getting together, talking about design and cutting the graphic design out of the air. Do you remember that?
Rachele Mock 0:52
Oh, that’s right. One of our friends said that after a portfolio review at the Portfolio Center. I think you and I were sophomores. So we had zero-
Don Mock 1:03
Sophomores in college?
Rachele Mock 1:04
Don Mock 1:04
Rachele Mock 1:04
We had zero to show. I think we had a marker comp to show, and our friend… we got out of there and he said, “Man, you just cut the graphic design out of the air.” And we’ve held on to that.
Don Mock 1:04
Rachele Mock 1:04
Don Mock 1:06
Yeah, it was a great expression. So especially the beginning of our career, we’d come home and talk about graphic design, graphic design. It was like, “Alright, we got to stop. We gotta talk about other things.”
Rachele Mock 1:26
I’ve always loved graphic design.
Don Mock 1:28
So that being said, here we are, we’re gonna talk about graphic design.
Rachele Mock 1:30
You want to?
Don Mock 1:31
Ba-dum-bump. Yeah, exactly. So recently, we had some anecdotal projects that you are working on. We’re not going to name names, we’re not gonna we’re not going to shame anybody, put anybody on blast. But it had gone through production and had gotten messed up. We’ll say it like that. So you do all this great work for people, and then you get all the way to the end, and then boom. It’s not what it’s supposed to be. People aren’t following brand standards? How do we want to call it? It just kind of got all goofed up in production? Is that Is that a fair statement? Or how would you say that?
Rachele Mock 2:05
Yeah, that’s a really fair statement. I think one of the things that I come up against is… one of the things that I can lend to organizations… the organizations I like to work with are education and health care-
Don Mock 2:19
Rachele Mock 2:19
- on a pro-bono level. So I’m a volunteer, and I like to work with them to help boost their brand. You and I have done this a few times. It’s it feels good. It leaves a legacy. There’s definitely a legacy that we have left in the Atlanta education system.
Don Mock 2:41
Rachele Mock 2:42
So I’m pretty damn proud of it. and I think our kids are pretty proud of it. What happens often, though, is you set these things up for additional volunteers to take over, use in whatever way a brand mark would be used.
Don Mock 2:58
Rachele Mock 2:58
And you do everything. I’ve done it one-color, two-color, three-color, four-color process.
Don Mock 3:04
Rachele Mock 3:04
I’ve done it to print in reverse. Everything. I’ve tried to educate and educate and educate. But in volunteer positions, there’s a lot of turnover.
Don Mock 3:12
Rachele Mock 3:13
And so quite often, I am hitting my head against the wall. When I see it on the road, and I’m driving, I want to hit my head on the-
Don Mock 3:25
Rachele Mock 3:25
Steering wheel, yes. Because I see it messed up in a main place in our city.
Don Mock 3:32
Rachele Mock 3:33
I don’t know what to do.
Don Mock 3:38
Rachele Mock 3:38
What would you do?
Don Mock 3:40
Well, it’s funny, you mentioned that there’s turnover and stuff. What I would say, on the professional side, when we’ve worked with many companies, where their entire marketing department has turned over. Now we actually know more about their own marketing decisions and the why, than that people that are employed at the company, right?
Rachele Mock 3:58
Don Mock 3:58
So turnover, and sort of the educational aspect is definitely part of the business now. I don’t think it used to necessarily be part of the business, but it’s definitely more and more part of the business as people sort of jump around more often. Right?
Rachele Mock 4:12
Don Mock 4:11
It’s like, oh, my gosh, I’ve been through three full marketing departments at this one company. We still obviously have institutional knowledge as to why XYZ happened and why the decisions were made and things like that. But I don’t know that there really is a great answer in terms of how to stop production errors or brand guidelines that at the end of the day are not being adhered to. Right?
Rachele Mock 4:11
Don Mock 4:15
And some of it might just be a blunder from the production side, from the printer or whomever. Right? And some of it might be just not using the right identities and whatnot in the right places. So I think, following you know, brand guidelines sometimes can get a little bit challenging. Once once we let go of something and put it out in the real world. I think Cuyler and I on a previous podcast, talked about the things we liked least maybe about our job sometimes.
Rachele Mock 5:01
Don Mock 5:02
That came up in regards to like, Hey, we’re putting it out in the world. I had mentioned a lecture that I think we both went to right? the guys Bueller. Right? and it was funny. It was like, Hey, here’s 50 pictures of my logo totally destroyed all over the world. Right?
Rachele Mock 5:18
Don Mock 5:20
So yeah, it’s, it’s, you know, I think the turnover is just a fact of life. I think that’s why brand guidelines actually are super important, you know.
Rachele Mock 5:28
Correct. And making them easy for anybody, not just a designer, to understand.
Don Mock 5:33
Rachele Mock 5:33
I mean, for instance, at one of the schools we worked at, I have a one page that I have on the website. I say, don’t do anything until you read this.
Don Mock 5:47
Rachele Mock 5:48
It’s really easy. You know, there’s a lot of big red X’s.
Don Mock 5:52
Yeah, don’t do this, don’t do this.
Rachele Mock 5:53
Yeah, and I think maybe it gets under my skin so much, because it was a volunteer position. I’m trying to put my finger on it. But years ago, Don, back when I was teaching, I wrote a blog. It’s called Alignment Logic. My students will understand that’s a term I used to use about using alignment in design and everything. But I wrote this one post about, Why does this happen? I called it Don’t Stretch Before Running. Running being, you know, don’t run the ad, don’t go to the press and run it. Don’t even post it on the website. How would you feel if you painted a painting and somebody just took all the horizontalality.
Don Mock 6:46
Rachele Mock 6:47
All the verticality? Let’s Just go the other direction- out of it and squashed. So I found, like, half a mile away from Coca Cola headquarters, the Coca Cola script just completely squashed.
Don Mock 7:06
Yeah, yeah. Printed on a sign for a restaurant.
Rachele Mock 7:08
Printed on a sign for a restaurant. So I wrote about that. Why would that be so important? There’s such easy ways to be careful not to make that mistake.
Don Mock 7:21
Yeah I get documents from clients. By documents I mean PowerPoint, which is probably the number-one offender of squishing and stretching and all sorts of stuff. It’s like, “Man, you’ve taken your own brand, and like, totally destroyed it. This is what you’re showing to your client?” It’s so funny, you know..
Rachele Mock 7:28
Don Mock 7:39
So some of it’s going to happen. There’s no way around that, I guess. Like the low hanging fruit stuff, sometimes it’s just gonna happen. You got to fight the fight for the good stuff, for the high profile stuff.
Rachele Mock 7:52
Don Mock 7:53
We talked about this internally, as well. We’re working on a project, and I mentioned, with turnover and whatnot. New brand team and whatever. It’s interesting how sometimes clients sour on their own stuff internally, far quicker than the rest of the world does, right?
Rachele Mock 8:09
Why do you think that happens?
Don Mock 8:11
Well, because they’re living with it, breathing with it, help develop it. We basically work on stuff months, possibly even years, before it even goes out the door, right? So you’re living with these brand guidelines, and you’re living with the brand as it is designed, at least for six months. Talking about it all the time, going through the different versions, before it even makes it out into the public, right?
Rachele Mock 8:33
Don Mock 8:33
So they’ve got six months of emotional baggage. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but like six months of living with it, you know. And then they want to change it quicker. You know, it’s like, “oh, it’s only been out for six months, and you already want to redo things, you already want to change things.” and it’s like, “no, no, no, no, what happened to reach and frequency,” you know what I mean?
Rachele Mock 8:52
Don Mock 8:52
You want to make sure you drive home that message before you change things. But juxtapose that with turnover, on a client side as well, right? Where they’ve lived with it longer than the general public has, and then a new team comes in and wants to put their fingerprints on things. I think that definitely does have a significant portion as to why clients want to change things up so quickly. Now that’s not going to stop them from squishing and destroying their own logos and their own brand attributes and stuff like that. Not following brand standards…. I wish there was a way to kind of force everybody to live by brand standards.
(laughing) There probably are in some countries.
Rachele Mock 9:37
Well one thing though, that- how long have you and I been designing professionally?
Don Mock 9:42
Too long. Let’s not date ourselves.
Rachele Mock 9:43
So back to when we were dating. Our eyes are incredibly trained. I have often people say, “only you see that.”
Don Mock 9:55
Rachele Mock 9:56
“Only you see that, Rachel.”
Don Mock 9:57
It’s true, it’s true.
Rachele Mock 9:58
“Only you see that the stroke is too thick or too thin or whatever.” But it’s been really interesting working in the volunteer capacity, because I have- and I used to use this expression with my students, when I would try to teach them why not to use Comic Sans. And why to try to start out with Helvetica, and all of those things about typography- I would say, “I’ve brought a few other people to the dark side with us.”
Don Mock 9:58
Rachele Mock 10:26
I know that’s a Star Wars reference, I think. So our eyes are trained, but I have had other volunteers who work with me, who have no creative background, whatever…
Don Mock 10:39
Rachele Mock 10:40
…come over to the dark side.
Don Mock 10:41
Rachele Mock 10:41
That’s like the best thing ever. I had one who was a scientist who will always send me things.
Don Mock 10:50
Rachele Mock 10:50
We’ve been parenting together for almost 20 years, and she’ll be like, “Oh, my God, look at this.” Yeah, like, “you’re speaking my language.” And then recently, a lawyer jumped on the bandwagon of wanting to use things correctly. What I’ve always said in these volunteer positions, “I don’t care if I did it for you 15 years ago, I’m happy to put eyes on it.” And maybe that’s one way to just say that moving forward.
Don Mock 11:18
What are your thoughts on- This is kind of an oddball question here- But what are your thoughts on the democratization of design? and how readily available design is to non-trained designers? I’m trying to choose my words carefully. And even, Mike, and I chatted about AI, you know, a while back. Now we’ve got the Adobe toolset. Adobe, obviously, Max Creative Suite, and Photoshop and Illustrator and whatnot that everybody uses on our side of the fence. Well, now it’s, oh, “we’ve got Adobe Firefly,” which is, hey, “Just doodle out a little thing. Then it’s going to create a logo for you in 10 different versions based on what we think your little doodle was,” right? Potentially all from your phone, and you can use the-
Rachele Mock 12:03
Have you tried it?
Don Mock 12:05
No, it’s in beta right now. As we get more and more non-designers- and there’s always been non designers designing. This isn’t like a new thing. But I mean, Just with the technology readily available for everybody on their phone to design their own anything.
Rachele Mock 12:23
Don Mock 12:23
Right. I would venture to guess that it’s going to get potentially worse, I guess, before it gets better. What are your thoughts on that whole subject?
Rachele Mock 12:32
It’s wild, because I’ve worked on two projects, not pro-bono, recently, where I’ve actually had the conversation with a client, that in order to be most cost effective, if they would allow me to set up their brand standard in Canva templates…
Don Mock 12:51
Mmm, my lord.
Rachele Mock 12:53
Yeah… that they could save money on the back end.
Don Mock 12:58
Rachele Mock 12:59
And it’s true. If you come to a designer, like you and me. These two clients will always come back to me and ask me to put eyes on something. But an admin and their office can do that.
Don Mock 13:17
Rachele Mock 13:18
So, as far as using the proper colors, and all of that kind of stuff… I don’t hate it. I just say it’s not the industry standard when somebody asks me to use it, and it makes people- what’s our expression- dangerous? Knowing enough to be dangerous.
Don Mock 13:36
Rachele Mock 13:37
But if they’re going to use the right color, if they’re going to use the right font, because you set that template up for that, and it’s not an Adobe Creative Suite.
Don Mock 13:45
Rachele Mock 13:46
Maybe it will get better. I prefer an education, and you always know, I have. What do you think?
Don Mock 13:55
I think that technology is a great thing when pointed in the right direction for the benefit of everybody. But I think that humanity has proven that we don’t always necessarily make the best decisions, right? Be that ethically, morally- I mean, those are big, big umbrellas versus from a design perspective. Not every single project on the planet needs the designer to do it. I’m not naive there’s a time and a place for, you know, excellent design. Spend the time, resources, energy, money, whatever you want to call it, versus not. I think the the hope and goal is that it makes the world a more beautiful place, right? I don’t know that that’s actually going to happen. It’s like, memes are awesome. You know, like, Hey, I’m a big fan of memes. They’re hilarious. Twitter, four years ago, was the funniest place on the internet, right?
Rachele Mock 13:55
Don Mock 13:55
I mean, before it just got completely overrun and whatnot, right? No professional designer is sitting down and designing all these memes. That’s the democratization of design and typography. And yeah, it’s bad type, but that’s kind of part of the charm. So I’m definitely not anti. I don’t know that… I feel like potentially Firefly is potentially too far, but I don’t I don’t know yet, though. We’ll wait and see. I think that the type of work that you do, and that I do will benefit greatly from the tool set that’s provided to customers. I can’t be there every single minute of their day, holding their hand, doing every single presentation, and every single proposal, and every single design execution, right?
Rachele Mock 15:40
Don Mock 15:41
So all we can do is point them in the right direction and hope for the best. And give them the toolset that’s the easiest that they can use to benefit their business and their daily life. Then hey, we come in on the big stuff. We come in on doing your website, we’re doing your ad campaign, we’re doing all your sales collateral, and all the big things that are nice and unified and stuff. But he little tactical deliverables… the speed of the way the world works now, it’s like, “We can’t do every single little thing for you.” Right?
Rachele Mock 16:12
Right. I have had at least three clients- and my clients are mom and pop compared to what you guys work on here. But I’ve had at least three clients by a Fiverr logo.
Don Mock 16:27
Rachele Mock 16:28
Yeah. And then give it to me to punch up.
Don Mock 16:32
Rachele Mock 16:33
They liked they liked the swash that they got from it, but they knew the font was bad. I see that around town, too. Some of those logos still. But at least I had some hand on it. Because I want to play nice with my client.
Don Mock 16:50
Yeah, of course.
Rachele Mock 16:53
Nobody’s dumb. They just need to ask the right question. So here, I’m gonna throw this to you. My parents were real early adopters when it came to technology. We had the first computer in our house, my dad brought in a word processor from Xerox, that was about the size of this room, in our basement.
Don Mock 17:18
Rachele Mock 17:19
It was so cool. So we always had that kind of stuff. I think that might have been one of the things that made me interested in type. Then when we got an Apple 2E, my parents bought me something called Print Shop. Do you emember Print Shop?
Don Mock 17:34
I don’t remember print shop on Apple 2E. I think I remember Wavy Navy. But I don’t remember Print Shop.
Rachele Mock 17:39
Print shop was really cool. You could do banners-
Don Mock 17:41
Rachele Mock 17:41
-on you’re dot matrix paper. You could do cards. It’s how I learned how to fold a car. You do it flat, and then you’d fold it two ways. I think back to probably, I’m gonna say his name again, our buddy Massimo…
Don Mock 17:58
Rachele Mock 17:59
What the hell was- that was in the 80s. That was when he was at the height of doing everything. Here was, little eight, nine-year -old Rachele, just thinking I was doing the best graphic designs ever. So I was wondering, if you remember that, but it sounded like you had something similar.
Don Mock 18:17
Now we had… so obviously, I grew up out west. And Apple was based in Cupertino, and I believe still is. So the entire sort of Greater Bay Area public education system, we were all had Macs. We had Macs forever, right? So I mean, we had Apple 2Es. I remember that in school.I remember when we all got the Mac version one or whatever. We had Mac Paints, but everything was still black and white. There was no color. Right?
Rachele Mock 18:45
Don Mock 18:45
So it was all based on texture and whatnot. I remember fiddling around with that type of early stuff, but I think design was still an… when we went off to school… design, there was still an actual handcrafted quality to it, where you have to buy the registration stickers, and cut your Rubylith and Amberlith. Nobody even knows what I’m talking about right now when I say this. But there was still an arts-and-crafts component to design and execution. It wasn’t necessarily as technologically driven yet. I think Intro to Computers, when we took it… I don’t even think that was on a Mac.
Rachele Mock 19:20
It was on an Amiga.
Don Mock 19:22
Amiga. Yeah, I mean, what in the world? What the hell is an Amiga?
Rachele Mock 19:25
I’m not even sure I would retain what we worked on.
Don Mock 19:28
I don’t know, either. I worked on a cereal box. I remember that.
Rachele Mock 19:31
I did some kind of an animation.
Don Mock 19:33
I think we did have to do some animations, too. Anyway, I don’t really know how to wrap this one up, but-
Rachele Mock 19:39
The only thing I was gonna say is that, remember, in our education, too, I don’t think we got to actually touch a computer unless we owned one, until the beginning of our third year. Do you remember that? Because I remember once we finally took QuarkXpress, that it was it was presented to us as a tool.
Don Mock 20:00
As a junior? I don’t remember that I feel like it came in sooner. I did transfer in.
Rachele Mock 20:05
Yeah. I Just remember like, “oh my gosh, it’s making things so much faster,” because we had done everything by hand up until that point.
Don Mock 20:13
For sure. Well, techniques, graphic design, all those marker renderings those were fun stuff.
Rachele Mock 20:16
Don Mock 20:17
All right, we’ve totally devolved off of brand standards and not following brand standards. Any any final thoughts on brand standards, or anything?
Rachele Mock 20:23
Just ask us to put eyes on it.
Don Mock 20:25
Yeah, seriously, seriously, folks. All right. Let’s go eat some lunch. This was fun. Thanks for coming by.
Rachele Mock 20:29
All right, thank you.