Making mistakes. It’s my thing.

Twelve years ago, I worked at a small design studio, here in Austin. It was during the dot com boom, so venture capital was falling from the sky, businesses were springing up left and right, all of them needed branding, and that is what we did. We were a small shop, growing quickly and sporting a fancy new Congress avenue address. Of course, since we had a new address, we needed a new identity. We were just finishing our own rebranding exercise and had the great idea of placing banners outside our office sporting our new logo and our new tagline: “Creative Intelligence.”

“Creative Intelligence” was supposed to illustrate the fact that we were more than just “make the shit pretty” people, but strategic thinkers and business consultants. There was only one problem with hanging a banner with such a statement outside our offices: We misspelled the word “Intelligence.” I say “we” because before my boss came walking down the street one morning and noticed the mistake hanging above her, at least 4 people (herself included) approved the proof without noticing the error. Now I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that was the last time a project I worked on, had such a glaring mistake.

Until today.

I’m working for myself now, and, occasionally, I’ll send out promotional pieces. And just like the old days, I struggle to find the words to cleverly describe what I do. Ultimately, the vast majority of designers and design firms offer very similar services. We usually end up getting hired because a client likes our past work, likes us personally, or both. This time around, I just cut to the chase, and sent out promo books with samples of my logo work in it. (See clever headline and fancy logo)

It's my thing.

But, just like the old days, mistakes happen. Today, I got this little gem mailed to me in a blank envelope with no return address. (See clever reply and helpful edit in red)

Spelling. It's my thing.

My first thought: Oh shit. I mailed out 200 of these things. My second thought: Oh shit, did I submit that misspelled logo to the original client? (Thankfully, I didn’t). My third thought: Oh shit…wait a minute…what an asshole. Really. In today’s day, who takes the time to write a snarky note and mail it? I was pretty pissed. I still am and trying to figure out why. I don’t know this person. They obviously didn’t have the courage to attach their name to the note. Why does someone’s anonymous note bother me so much?

I supposed it has to do with my own insecurity and perfectionism. I’m not alone. These are traits that a lot of us possess. We are a culture that abhors failure. And that is the biggest mistake of all. Without failure, there will be no success. So, more mistakes to come, future clients. I’ll save a special misspelling just for you.

It’s my thing.

Blog post courtesy of Matt Fangman.
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By AIGA Austin
Published December 1, 2012