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Old 10-26-2009, 11:37 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Great Plains, USA
Posts: 271
Default Plaque Design Problem

I’ve been asked to design a plaque for a chamber of commerce. This will be issued to all chamber member businesses. They wanted it to look similar to a nearby chamber’s design which is on gold metal plaque affixed to a wooden base. I loved my first design and so did everyone I showed it to; however, the director then noted that they want a design printed on paper and framed and therefore want lots of color, so my design was set aside (it will definitely go in my portfolio). Then a chamber employee had a “vision” for the plaque and wanted to take a photo for it, which the director consented. I finally got it a few months later and was told to use it in the design, without any stylization or filtering. I came up with some concepts, some using filtering, which were all turned down.

Despite her obvious lack of print/design knowledge, the chamber employee clearly has a lot of influence on the director who, after receiving my design concepts, basically listens to her and echoes her comments to me rather than allowing me creativity. I’ve designed a plaque at their specific request and am disgusted by the outcome. So, as seen below, I designed yet another of my own concepts using many of their requests but using my own photo (which shows more of the courthouse) and more sophisticated design principles. It was somewhat effortless and I really liked the outcome, but they again said they prefer their requested design and since they only want it on 8.5”x11”, I keep being told to make ALL the text bigger so customers will be able to see it from 11-15 feet away. The requirements include the following text:

- “Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce”
- “Chamber Member Since ___”
- “Serving the Surrounding Communities”
- All nine encompassing town names, which form beams of sunlight

Attachment 1545 Attachment 1543 Attachment 1544
My first "metal" design; my current favored design; chamber's requested design

As any designer knows, you can’t have very good emphasis if all text is huge. There must be hierarchy. And 8.5”x11” is so small to be entirely readable from behind a counter. I have not explained the faults of this to them yet but after receiving a recent email about it I will now. As a testament to her lack of knowledge - and to the potential cheapness of the chamber - the chamber employee even asked the director whether the 200+ plaques will be printed by the local printing company or simply at the chamber office (which as far as I know only has some basic desktop printers). The employee is an older woman and noted her interest in art but apparently never took the opportunity to explore it for a career. She seems to hold sentimental/personal value over the use of her photo which is hurting the integrity of the plaque design and preventing creativity.

The requested design has her photo and a sunbeam concept I used on a previous design; however, it makes no sense for the sun to be behind the building when the sunlight is hitting the steeple from the front, and the photo/text combination simply looks bad. Although still not entirely accurate to real lighting, it works better on my photo and cooperates better with the stylization. If they must use their requested design, I honestly do not want credit for its conception. I wish the director would favor the opinions of real graphic designers over a chamber employee, but how far can I push this? I want to you hear what you all have to say, as well as my aunt who owns her own graphic design business, then pass that on to the chamber director.

Last edited by Ronald; 08-15-2010 at 09:51 PM.
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