by Art Chantry:
first off, what EXACTLY is “haw”? is it a root? a fruit? a mineral? an animal? does sugar ‘improve’ it? are those little flat ‘disks’ what ‘haw’ looks like? is this candy? or is it something more mysterious? can somebody please tell me?
one of the life-long obsessions for graphic designers – especially the academically-trained graphic designers – is an obsession with foreign design. there’s something about seeing what a mind from another culture using a different language and history can do with a sales pitch that turns a designer’s crank. just about about every graphic designer i’ve ever met has a few pieces of foreign designed packaging sitting around the office. we buy annuals and books and magazines full of images of foreign packaging and posters and ads and logos and we copycat the poop out of them.
this behavior is solidly encouraged by academia, who worships at the altar of everything ‘foreign’. if it’s from this country, it’s tacky and tasteless and bad, “them foreigners are the true masters.” (especially) if it’s eastern european (from germany on east) or anything japanese, we are constantly encouraged to convert to the church of ‘them’. as designers, we are all taught that “they” are the geniuses and “you” are the dorks. we can’t even pronouce (badly) half of those names without saying them in a hushed respectful whisper. frankly, the entire cult of foreign design in this country sort of makes me wanna puke. or yawn. it’s confusing.
sure, they do good stuff. but, they also do really really bad stupid stuff – an enormous amount of bad stupid stuff every bit as stupid bad (or worse) than americans do. so much of it seems ‘good’ simply out of sheer novelty that we can’t really see what we’re looking at. instead, we stare in awe and cherish the ‘feeling’ we experience when we see it – as if that denotes ‘kwality’ in our feeble cultural zeitgeist. so sad and so lame.
the realty is those guys are all copycatting us amercians. sure, it’s viewed through an utterly different lens, but they are trying to imitate what the west does (and i mean the west – from wherever you are standing.) we americans feel like such losers in front of these guys because we are so ignorant of the process of cultural assimilation. foreign design isn’t brilliant, it’s derivative. honest. most of the truly brilliant work emerged in america decades and decades before those pesky foreigners ever saw it. then they spot the idea, twist it and imitate it and send it back and we think, “gee, i wanna do stuff that looks like that.” so silly.
we are the great capitalist propagandists of the ages. we are the klowns who re-created the world in our cultural image. we invented this contemporary version of visual language and sold it accidently along with out products. THEY loved it and simply “wanted to do stuff like that, too.” and bounced it back to us. i see the world of cultural design interaction as a giant pin ball machine. that shiney ball gets caught between bumpers on the japan/west coast alley (or the europe/new york alley) so often that we lose track how many times it scored or even where it’s been.
so, back to this crummy little label. dunno what it’s for (haw flakes?) seems to be some sort of foreign candy. it’s cheap. it’s simple. it’s practical. the letterforms are odd and the colors are sophistcated but strange. the printing is gutbucket. we can’t read it and don’t have a clue what the product is. we may look at this weird little item and think it’s pretty cool. we might even try to do some work ‘inspired’ by this thing – like i kept this because i thought it might make a cool gigposter someday. it’s like looking at a old fireworks package and wanting to copycat it (only not as cool.) it’s fresh, it’s different. it’s a novelty (therefore it’s ‘good’). very very asian, isn’t it?
notice all that english?