Halloween: Designed for Horror and Revenge!

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” goes the old saying. As designers we are often placed at the bottom of the pile in both work and life. We are not worthy of pay as freelancers, judging by the amount of requests for free work or the number of unpaid invoices when a client decides we were asking too much… like the outrageous amount slightly above free.

In an office situation, our managers remember we were the strange kids in school who drew pictures in our notebooks while they tattled on fellow students and beat up the sickly kid in the wheelchair, so WE are the one’s who need hand-holding in a professional environment, with micromanagement so we don’t create designs of dinosaurs breathing fire on army tanks instead of the usual images of people in a conference room, dotting the pages of a corporate report.

We hold the only job that requires a portfolio to show our expertise yet we are also the only workers whose work is judged by a committee on a daily basis, with changes shouted at us as if we are unable to properly do the jobs for which we are hired. It’s no wonder we complain bitterly about the industry of doing what we love. Our gift of creativity is also a curse and if not for the ending of the Salem Witch trials, we would hang by our necks from gallows for drawing devil-inspired pictures of dinosaurs breathing fire on army tanks.

One can spend years in therapy, hoping to find peace through understanding but that will never happen. The answer to inner peace is through revenge – cold, brutal and delicious revenge! Well, it’s time for trick or treat, so how about a little more trick than treat in the workplace?

I’m not suggesting a shotgun and maniacal laugh while visiting other workers to give them your best regards on their last day at work – and on Earth. That’s too simple. Make them question themselves for the eternity of their pitiful lives – mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Here’s a few fun pranks you can pull without crossing the boundaries of illegality:

The Interviewee From HELL!

Fake up your résumé so you can get an interview for a job you really don’t want. When you start the interview, be amenable to everything you are being told and then go nucking futs! Tell them you have weird sexual perversions that may come out during the workday. Admit you have an addiction to porn that is classified as a legitimate medical condition and will need full internet access for porn-surfing during the workday. Claim you have Tourette Syndrome and scream out obscenities every now and then

At one job interview I was on, I saw a sheet of paper outside the art department that had twenty-six names on it. I asked what that was for and was told it was the comment sheet used for every design. The art department, it seems, were seen as incompetent children and needed the entire company personnel to tell them how to design. As we walked into the art department, so I could gauge the mood of the designers, all of whom frowned like they were serving life sentences in a Soviet gulag, I asked my interviewer if the designers were chosen for their talent or just as a pair of hands to fill a spot. She asked why I asked the question and I started to reply that it was odd that designers, chosen for their talent and abilities were under the scrutiny of every other employee in the company. Then I asked if other departments like marketing and sales had the same sheets for comments.

The interviewer, who was the HR person, stuttered about how everyone wanted to be involved with the design process and often had “good ideas.” I reminded her that she had not ten minutes before told me how sales were declining and they thought the sales material wasn’t reaching the clients. Out of the corners of my eyes, I could see several designers trying very hard to hide their smiles. Meeting the gaze of one, she mouthed, “thank you,” to me.

I knew I wasn’t going to get that job and I certainly didn’t want it, so I had nothing to lose by going all out on the system that was in place. “You hire designers for their abilities and then chop them off at the knees, “ I told the interviewer, who was sweating and stammering at this point. “It’s the designers who studied color theory, type, and the impact of taking a blank nothing and tying the elements together to form a cohesive message that is effective. By asking an entire company of secretaries and administrators to play designer, you’ve watered down the message and THAT is why your sales are down.”

“Well,” said my interviewer, “we have to wrap this up as I have another interview in a few minutes.” She walked me to the door and mumbled something about how they would contact me if I made the next round of interviews.

“Will I have to interview with all twenty-six people?”

She looked like I had bitch-slapped her and I turned and left. As I got into my car, I rolled down the window and lit a cigarette. I looked over at the building and several people in the art department were looking out the window at me. I waved and they waved back. I felt like the hero in some old western, driving off into the sunset. I’ll bet they laughed and talked about my visit for weeks after that.

Commidiots!

When it comes to design-by-committee, there will be people who feel they must say something to justify their presence at the committee (commidiots!). It will be ridiculous and without any substance but you will need to follow it. When you’ve decided you’ve had enough of living in that kind of working environment, or you just took the job for the purpose of destroying lives, bring back the design with “changes” but have the images replaced with Photoshopped pornographic images of committee members’ faces on the figures of people having sex with farm animals, etc. During the fray, insist you heard someone suggest “making the images more personal” and “exciting,” then apologize and blush.

Also, make sure any requested color changes requested are the worst hues and saturations you can create. Make that piece vibrate and give coworkers killer migraines!

Some people refer to a practice called “the hairy arm” or the “hairy mole.” The idea is to create something in a design, illustration or photograph that draws immediate attention in a committee and everyone focuses on getting rid of that one element, leaving the others alone. Change made, everyone justifies their attendence in the committee and creativity is saved.

Earn a Lawsuit!

Human Resources are in place to protect employees from all kinds of problems from harassment to life problems that affect performance. Ha! I’m kidding. HR is there to protect the company from foolish human traits that come up in everyday interaction between workers who suffer sociopathic tendencies and could create problems that damage the company’s brand, reputation or bring on multi-million dollar lawsuits. Despite that protective layer, HR is staffed by humans also and they usually can’t see beyond their own closed doors when something serious takes place. Lawsuits are common and although court actions can take years and lawyers get the lion’s share of awards, there are still too many instances of HR actually making things worse for the company by protecting dangerous workers, usually executives. In one case it really backfired…

I have a friend who was so sick of a pompous marketing executive who pushed around the design department so badly (making changes before he was leaving for the day and demanding it be done by first thing the next morning, making numerous changes to projects and then deciding the first round of designs was the best), she decided enough was enough. It had to be her or this guy and she decided she would kill him… with kindness.

After one committee, the marketing jerk asked for numerous changes and as it was her project, she spoke up in a very meek voice (she was anything but meek) and asked, “why?”

Apparently, he looked shocked. No one, including the creative director had ever dared question him and he wasn’t happy about it.

“Because that’s what I want!” he reportedly shot back at her and rolled his eyes.

“That’s not enough for me to go on. I want to do the best design possible for the company. Why do you want these changes?” She was smiling and acting very sheepish, she told me.

Apparently the marketing moron’s veins started popping out in his neck and forehead as he screamed, “IF YOU DON’T JUST F—KING DO IT, I’LL PERSONALLY THROW YOU OUT THE G-D D-MN FRONT DOOR!”

That’s all she needed to hear. “But I’m only asking a question and you’re being unreasonable.” She knew how to push people’s buttons. She was a master debater (get your mind out of the gutter!) and could tell what would set this guy off. The conference room was still full of people with their mouths wide-open, jaws on the ground. No one spoke up or moved.

“Unreasonable?” He repeated that three or four times. He walked up right in front of her and said, “just say it again. Just ask me one more question or call me unreasonable.”

She told me she tried the hardest she ever had to not smile because she knew she had him. “I’m an employee here, too and I have a right to ask a question!”

The next thing she knew, he had shoved her and she hit the wall. She was not a petite woman. She was solid and tough. She once hit me in the arm when I made a bad joke and it hurt for a week and I’m a big guy myself.

She fell to the floor and started sobbing and moaning. The marketing bully turned and quickly left the room. A couple of people bent down to ask if she was okay.

“C-c-call an ambulance,” she sobbed.

At the hospital, they couldn’t really find anything wrong with her because she’s built like a tank but they did say she probably had a “light concussion” and “possible trauma to her spine.” The doctor told her to rest in bed for a few days, not to lift anything heavy or move around too much and check back in at the end of the week.

A coworker drove her home, while spilling her guts about how horrid the incident was and how shocked everyone was. The marketing dumbo had apparently left the building immediately and drove off. My friend listened to the description the eyewitness had and it fell in line with her plan to destroy the jerkwad.

The next day, the company owner called her to find out how she was. It was a small firm and there was no HR person. The owner was a fool who let the marketing guy run amok and didn’t get involved with other incidents of abuse and bullying. She informed him what the doctor had said and used keywords and phrases such as “physical assault,” “sexual assault,” “negligence” and “company “fear of returning due to psychological trauma.”

With the help of an attorney she referred to lovingly as “the shark lady,” there was a quick, out of court settlement for a high six-figures. The marketing guy was fired, my friend retired, the staff breathed a sigh of relief and everyone lived happily ever after… except the marketing guy.

Be Safe and Have Fun!

Lawsuits are never a good idea. Being thrown against a wall isn’t a good idea. Going on a fake interview and torturing some poor HR person is always a good idea. There are creative ways to enjoy trick or trick for Halloween, April Fool’s Day or just any day that calls for some laughs, revenge or plain cruelty against those who are different from us. Of course, legally, I have to deny I ever said any of that.

All images ©GL Stock Images

About the Author

Speider Schneider

Speider Schneider is a former member of The Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine and has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. Speider is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild, co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee and a former board member of the Society of Illustrators. Follow him on Twitter @speider

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2 Comments

  1. >Cre8ivetype October 31, 2012

    BOO (hoo)! It’s a shame that those of us in this profession suffer from these experiences all too often, and I love your perspective on them:

    “The answer to inner peace is through revenge…”
    “Will I have to interview with all twenty-six people?”
    “Commidiots”

    Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Great anecdotes and pics!

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