old reflection

An experimental poster with several versions of the same person.

Every now and then when I’m in an ambitious reflective mood I’ll launch an archive of my old work blog and scan through several posts. I guess I still wonder what happened. I know I’ll never figure it out.

I found an old post from 2007 that I used to ask colleagues about false claims of diversity in advertising. I worked in a predominantly white department in a predominantly white university. Photos of people of color were precious commodities- using photoshop, I’d lift the people out and place them in ads or in news photos. A director called getting a photo of a black woman “double dipping.” I had problems with the lie, but at the same time saw some value in trying to create a welcoming atmosphere to encourage people of color to participate.The post had a couple of smart comments, one from the departments CIO. After spinning a brief anecdote, he claimed he was for demonstrations of diversity.

The triteness of the diversity campaigns that I saw online and on campus was an embarrassment. The poster above was a shot at an honest diversity campaign. I had others using the same theme- several of the same women wondering why somebody thought their perfume was too strong. Well, that was the idea anyway. I thought it was honest, clever, and fun, but people didn’t beat a path to my door. I think the model, Mark, had fun.

Several years after my retirement in 2012, I was experimenting with image search. For no reason other than its obscurity I searched on my diversity poster. It came up as having been used in someone else’s blog about a year after I made it. The gentleman’s post called diversity advertising crap, then went on, “The problem, of course, is finding an execution – particularly a visual execution – that isn’t predictable, patronising or already done to death.” He went on to say that he’d found some approaches that weren’t brilliant or entirely rubbish- but with a low puke factor. His first one? Yep, “Try this internal poster from the IT department at Penn State University:”

I sent the guy a note thanking him for something that happened so long ago. He returned a nice note, ending with some good advice: “Don’t spend too much time looking back in your retirement, by the way.”

You’re probably right, Andrew.

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