Friday, January 4, 2013

Identity Crisis

I've been seeing a lot of ads on TV lately for Vistaprint. They're a printing company that I would have to say revolutionized the marketing and on-line printing of small-quantity business goods. I get about ten e-mails a week from them with incredible offers for printed hats, cups, pens, lawn signs and refrigerator magnets. Since I've been seriously considering re-branding myself, I jumped at the chance to get 250 PREMIUM (that's right, not the crappy ones they apparently usually sell) business cards for the ridiculously low price of ten bucks. Can't buy much for ten dollars these days. Even the liter and a half of cut-rate Zinfandel that counts as the house swill around here tops up at eleven bucks. So, spending a Washington less than that to improve my image with my adoring public is kind of a no-brainer, which is good, since I'm fairly brainless.

One of the best things about Vistaprint is that they make ordering printed stuff very easy. There's an online interface that allows the user to select a design, enter whatever they want to and click to order. In olden times, like ten years ago, to order business cards, one would go to a local printer, choose a layout from a big, dusty book on the counter, fill out a 3 x 5 card with the desired information and a few weeks later, receive a box of cards. Typically, the local printer did NOT print the cards in-house as they're a pain in the ass to print, most people would want raised lettering which uses special thermal ink that bubbles up when heated which required an oven with a conveyor belt which most local printers had no reason to own, as well as a business card slitting machine. What? You though some refugee sat around with a pair of scissors, snipping each one of your precious cards from a giant sheet of them? Or that the cards were printed one at a time on tiny little sheets of paper? Huh. Really.

Anyhow, Vistaprint has thousands of designs available online, obviously created by Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates with massive college debt. With so much choice, it's not easy finding the "look" that best represents me -ME, dammit. Using their search tool, I looked up ME - no luck: I was prompted to upload my own design. Sure, as a person with massive mad design skilz, I could mos def do that, but it kinda defeats the porpoise, though why anyone would want to battle such an intelligent and friendly creature is beyond me.

So, I tried a different search, starting with my best qualities and interests, since I don't have a specific business to promote. I mean, how can I boil down all that I am into a single function? Impossible. So, let's see . . . my best feature is that I'm incredibly sexy. This is what I got:
Mmmm . . . a red head, just like the sumptuous Joan Holloway character from Mad Men. Good start, excellent, in fact. Is that a love potion she's pouring onto her palm? It must be, since there are little hearts floating skyward. GAH! This is a card design for a sex worker! I'm not a sex worker. Wait. No, definitely not. And as it turns out, there's a whole page of similar designs. Two pages if you enter "sex worker" in the search box. Hey, listen, there's jobs that need a-doin' and I ain't no hayter. Yo.

Right - moving on. In what I write, which is often a distillation of my persisitent mental noodling also know as obsessive thought patterns, if you want to get all clinical about it, despair, regret, lament, sadness, mortality with just a hint of death are just a few of thirty-one flavours of depression I neurotically feature. Naturally, I searched "death" and this is what their search engine suggested:
Yikes! Is that . . . yes, it is: it's a person dressed in what seems to be an Army uniform, in a flag-draped casket. The very first thing that popped into my head is how the Westboro Baptist folks might find this card design eerily appropriate. So, how did this design come about? Is that actually a dead serviceman? Is it a model? If it's a model, how does this shoot figure into his portfolio? What would the company name of this business be? Slogan? "Back From Iraq, Stiff Yet Slack" Oh, my. I'm going to heck. Sorry. Not the card for me. Time to get a little religion:
Um, I searched "Buddhist" and this is what I got. Religion, death - yeah, I can see how it all ties together. I could also see that some designer somewhere was in a hurry to get out the door some Friday in the past and decided to PHONE IT THE HELL IN.


Naturally, this whole process is spinning me downward, and I don't make it a habit of adding scotch to my corn flakes, which are, by the way, both excellent inventions on their own but are far too sad-making to be consumed together. So, I search for "drug dealer." Nothing. "Pills" gives me predictable designs with pharmacist-looking characters with mortar and pestle logos and colourful pills - it's a wonderland of apothecary. Drugs - I want drugs! Which gives me:
The actual name of this design is "drug addicted female." Not my words. I could see how this card could also be used in the sex worker category. Clever bifurcation of purpose. But I've spent far too much time trying to find a design that represents all that I am and all that I could be. With thousands of layouts available, is it really possible that I can't find anything, or is it that I'm not looking in the right place, which ALWAYS seems to be the gol-derned case. Finally, after almost twenty-nine hours on the site, with blood clots having already formed in my legs, my shoulders more sore than a five-dollar hooker on payday, I succeed. Herein you will find my new calling card, designed to fully represent me in the best possible light. Enjoy!