Friday, November 19, 2010

Lessons in Graphic Design #1

Good morning class. Please finish your Monday New York Times crosswords that you saved to do on the train til Friday so you'd look smart, and lets put your starbucks mocha fucking whatevers away and get to work, shall we. As many of you may know, or maybe none of you actually, I am a classically trained graphic designer, highly skilled in the deadly art of typography. I once horribly shamed a young urban hipster by pointing out that his Vampire Weekend T-Shirt was actually a cheap derivative of the opening title sequence for the clasic 70's TV show BJ and the Bear. Indeed, he was immediately rendered speechless (or possibly annoyed). Take that culturaly derivative youth of America! Now listen up.

When it comes to advertising on the rails, there's really not a whole lot of innovation out there. It's mostly ads for John Grisham novels, Republicans and Democrats with smiling blond families or dogs (now I trust him!), the TV show Sons of Anarchy, stocks and mutual funds, ambulance chasing lawyers, Yonkers Racetrack and The Broadway production of the Addams Family. In other words, its a fairly uninspired visual stew of stock photography and poorly spaced sans serif type. So Im a big fan of the sharpie vandals who enhance the ads in an effort to provide humor and vulgarity into my Groundhogs Day existence. To be clear, I would never condone marking or scratching the trains themselves, but the ads, well, If FOX TV wants me to stare at a drawing of American Dad in a thong for an hour, I dont really see the harm of adding the always classic cock and ball unit. These alterations represent the full spectrum of human creativity, from clever to cloddish. Most are fairly expected, and yet, they still make me laugh, kind of like when my dad farts at the dinner table. You know its coming, but it's still funny. "Time for a Stock Alternative" becomes "Time for a Cock Alternative". It's like scrabble for degenerates! Fun for the whole family! Some of the less creative scribes simply take out their frustrations by writing words like fag, slut, asshole, bitch, whore, mostly across pictures of that guy from the Men's Wharehouse for some reason. You're gonna like the way you look. Slut. Whore. LOL.

So from time to time I'll be posting my favorites as I see them. Today's example is interesting. I might even go so far as to call it mildly retarded. Evidently, the artist, possibly while skipping class to take the train into the East Village to buy a new one hitter, was so inspired by the letter F that he couldn't restrain himself. "Hey, that word starts with an F. You know what other word starts with an F... tee hee. LOL. Slut." I will give high marks for typographic gymnastics in this case. I never would have thought you could fit the letter K into the letter M, but there it is right there. Ultimately I would have been happier if he had found the word Luck or Duck or better yet, Starbucks. Who can ignore a well executed Starfucks? And think of all the FOX news ads that could become FUX or COX. COX NEWS, Fair and Balanced. I'd buy that. Ultimately, I think we can do better people. The trains and platforms are full of opportunities for budding Banksy's, so grab a pen and put your boggle skills to the test. And please remember, it's always better to be clever than to simply write ASSHOLE. Unless its on a Carl Paladino poster. Class dismissed.