Going Off Half-Cooked

There was some handwringing, and mocking, and more handwringing, about SquareSpace announcing a logo design program.

The way I feel about this development, as a non-SquareSpace user, is, “big whoop.” The people that will use this service were very unlikely to be a designer’s future customer. It also has the ability to raise the bar for the bare minimum a designer must do for a logo. I mostly object to it because I really doubt this is what SquareSpace should be focusing their efforts on, based on the purely anecdotal complaints I see about their services, but I can’t judge the whole thing based on that. Perhaps the fact that I have not been swayed to be a customer before today, or since, should serve as some kind of evidence that it might not be the most crucial path for new customers?

Still, the logo program means almost nothing to me, as an artist. I don’t talk about my job, but let’s just say I do shmisual sheffects for shmilm. There is often a notion that the process involves computers, so it must be something that can be automated to use very little input from humans. That it is something a computer does and I am just there to turn the computer on. There is the notion that anyone can just go buy some software off the shelf (or internet, these days) and make their own stuff without needing training, or artists.

The SquareSpace logo program doesn’t prohibit users from making a bad logo. It provides some structure through limited options. Users can still make really terrible, ill-suited, generic, eye-rollingly-silly, dumb things with it. They can go buy a copy of shmisual shmeffects shmof- software and make things too.

There is never going to be a wizard, program, or widget that gives users control, and taste. Users have to bring one, or both of those, to the table. If it’s only providing the taste, users have clip art. Cellophane-wrapped, mass-produced logos have a shelf-life that is already expiring when they are purchased.

If users think they can make a logo, then they can go on and make one. A text editor can make a logo. The software that “helps” you is really software that sets guides, and limits, on your behavior. Without limits, you can do something far better, or worse, than the program allows.

Anyone can cook by assembling some prepared, or partially prepared, items together. That doesn’t mean what they cooked was any good. Rudimentary cookbooks don’t put chefs out of business. If anything, they provide the chef with clientele that expect better than what can be had at home; that elevates the discussion of the food beyond fish sticks and tater tots. And who do you think sets the trends for the next round of cookbooks when everyone is tired of this?

Great, now I’m hungry.

2014-01-23 00:00:00

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