Surf Director


Mon, Feb 17th, 2003 05:00 by REVSCRJ ARTICLE

You?d think that something like "art director" is a little anomalous to the list of jobs. Looks a tad suspiciously like a "career path", eh? Well, I was tricked into it.

By this point in my life I'd already dropped out of college, giving up a graphic arts major, because I discovered that "graphic art" is a misnomer. The term should correctly be "graphic psychological manipulation." I went through about a year and a half worth of classes to come to this conclusion and when it hit me it made me truly sick.

Yes, I was naive and a little slow on the uptake, but at least I realized it. You see, art is sacred to me, the act of creation is the closest one ever comes to God while alive. And, really, to desecrate it, for me is pure sin... but hell... it had been a few years since the impact of it had hit me and, as all things, it was dulled by time so when the offer came around I considered it.

I was working inserting papers for the San Francisco Chronicle one day per week and living well enough off of that to keep me in rent, coffee, cigarettes, and food so it wasn't like I needed any extra work or anything.

Truth be told, I was working pretty hard during this time on my music and writing, building skills that were ones that actually brought me joy, or I was hanging out with my two year-old-son. True beauty, that. I was so free.

One day this guy by the name of Dave asks me if I want to "put in a few hours a week" at the surf shop he was working at. I'd met Dave at Kinko's and trusted him enough. I figured that I'd be assisting him, or handling things he didn't have time for.

I'm thinking "Sure would be great to be able to occasionally afford to buy a sack" and there I am saying that I'll come in for an interview. My mind was clouded by sugar plumb dreams of smoking MY OWN pot, as opposed to leeching off of my friends...

The interview goes pretty much as they all do: I find a rigid yet friendly mask, slip it on and try my best not to scream. The end of it comes and my future boss says:

"Great. Well, good to have you aboard, the job is Monday through Friday, 9-5."

This cold shiver starts in my prostate and moves like icewater into my stomach where it pools like bad meat but I say, "Good to be aboard!" because, well, I can always jump ship later. I go directly to Dave 's office. Dave looks up from the computer.

"Did he like you?"

"Yeah. Come outside and smoke with me."


We go out into the parking lot and before I can say word one the General Manager walks past us and says, "Hey Dave, we don't pay you to smoke on your last day!" and smiles in that 'just kidding' way.

"So... it's your last day, huh?"


[bit of silence]

"Mmmm... so, uhm... I thought that you had said I'd only be working a few hours a week."

"Yeah. That should be it, why?"

"Hmmm, Kelly just told me that its 9-5, 40 per."

"Really? Weird."


I was tricked into a full-time Art Director position by a friend... bastard! The thing about this job is that I HAD NO FUCKING CLUE what I was doing to begin with! I mean NO CLUE! I walked in the next day and was led to my office and had to figure out how to turn the computer on! I HAD NO CLUE! I had taught myself a little Pagemaker and Photoshop at Kinkos while I had worked there, but I had never printed anything for publication! I thought that camera-ready-art meant that it had to be a slide!

Luckily Dave's file management system was pretty damn oblique--he named some things in German--so I was able to make it seem to my computer literate (this was key) co-workers that I had been left with SUCH a disorganised mess that it would "take me weeks to sort it all out". Weeks that I used to teach myself the appropriate skills to become a graphic designer. I worked there for three years and became quite skilled in it, skills I might add that have helped me with many endeavours since.

What all this taught me was that: 1) it's not about education but ability to learn and adapt quickly, 2) its not about skill, but the appearance of skill (which, by the way, is a truly fucked up thing and should never be applied to one's behaviour or life unless subverting the system) and 3) always DEEPLY question ANYONE who offers me a job.



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