Thursday, November 30, 2006

The pink will win. All hail the pink.

Daddytypes nailed the fears many of us have about color branding. When the princess was getting ready to come out, we let family and friends know that we didn't want everything to be girl-specific. We didn't want to raise a Disney Princess from the bassinet on, all swathed in pinks and bows.

Though we got a few outfits that came with those absurd little headbands, we never put one on her. When she was old enough to choose her favorite things to wear--somewhere between ten months and a year--the favorites were unisex Patagonia pieces we had picked up on sale at the outdoors store in Fayetteville. Other favorites were unisex-tending-toward-girly pieces from Zaetano. Then, as Daddytypes found out, somewhere between 18 and 30 months it all changed.

By two and a half, she was a girl. She wanted nothing but dresses and skirts. Pink and purple were suddenly, and vocally, her favorite colors. Barbie entered her life, soon followed by the first of her Disney princesses. I fought it for a while, until I resigned myself to the fact that there was no way out. The pink-hegemony branding machine is simply too strong, unless the child lives in a complete bubble--never goes to school, never sees TV or a movie.

Then again, I've also begun to think about genetic predispositions. The boys at the playground inevitably seem drawn to gun play and rough-housing. The girls inevitably seem drawn to comparing shoes and playing in social groups.

It just begs the question: do we (and society/business) begin the preferences or is there a built-in preference?

A Dog's Life

This is Reilly:

He's a hell of a dog. He is also a neurotic mess lately.

At least once a week I have to clean up an "accident." It always happens on a day he hasn't gotten enough attention or when the princess is around, and sometimes overnight. It is also always in the same general place--near the princess's art table.

He has also taken to digging into the trash and strewing it about the bathroom. This sort of thing hasn't happened since I adopted him seven years ago. Then, he made trails of trash through my little house until I started locking the trash away.

Granted, there have been a huge number of transitions in our lives lately. My wife came back, and then left again. A cat came and left. The princess started school. My work schedule got busier. It's a lot for a person to process, let alone a dog. I keep wondering whether there is any solution short of hiring someone to take him out during the day. Maybe I should just go back to advertising, get a job at one of the agencies where everyone brings their dogs in. A dad can dream...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ack, management!

After two-plus years, I am finally facing the conflict between being the creative director and a middle manager at a state university. It is, to say the least, not a comfortable position.

We have developed a culture in my office that has nothing to do with clock-punching. We are around during standard business hours, and we get an incredible amount of really good work done. Our designs are among the best I've ever worked on; our web development will set new standards for the kind of university we are. And despite all of this, I face occasional pressure about making sure we are in the office when we are supposed to be. From an administrative standpoint, I guess I understand the problem--the bean-counters worry that we might be abusing our latitude.

And here's where the culture clash really comes in for me. I have yet to know a good, dedicated creative who blew things off. If you get into this business, you do so because you give a shit about details and you get off on producing good work on deadline. It's just a part of our character. We go the extra mile in part because creative work rarely happens only between the hours of eight and four. Oh, and most people in this business do what we do because we like it.

So where does this leave us? I like where I am right now, and I like my team. I'm not looking for another job, and I don't want them to either. The trick will be continuing to navigate an institutional culture that is at odds with the design culture we have developed in the office.