Publicity seekers are given too much space

I find it difficult to express my reaction to DW 12 April. First, to be faced with a grinning Rodney Fitch on the front cover and a bold red type backing up the mug shot put me off reading any further.

I find it difficult to express my reaction to DW 12 April.

First, to be faced with a grinning Rodney Fitch on the front cover and a bold red type backing up the mug shot put me off reading any further. The thought of seeing the inside covered with further photos and exposés filled me with dread and despair. After all, what’s new about Rodney Fitch?

I forced myself to turn to your Comment. More Rodney Fitch. By this stage I was feeling quite bilious and tried to find something which did not include Rodney Fitch, only to find the middle page spread illustrating an even worse photo-montage of what looked like Rodney’s death mask or an Al Capone or some other Godfather lookalike. How could anyone expose himself to this type of characterisation and still believe he is a good example to follow?

The design business is in a delicate state and is not a megalomaniac’s playground. Each client deserves the full benefit of the professional consultant commissioned. Unfortunately, the profession ballooned into an egomaniac’s nightmare, because size was the target. We lost our way with the undoubted help of the likes of Rodney Fitch and Stewart McColl, whose aim was to be “the biggest”. In the process, I believe quality suffered, which is inevitable in the short time-scale of one decade. After all, there were only a limited number of hands-on designers about.

Of course, we can delegate certain jobs to someone else, like standard detailing, accountancy, marketing and management, but designers need to be responsible for design, and when they are inexperienced, the work suffers. This reflects on the profession generally, particularly when the company creating the impression is “the biggest”.

To be a designer you need years of experience behind you, on-site and in discussion with fellow professionals, in addition to training and continually updating your own thoughts and ideas to comply with each different scheme and each different brief.

If we are to come up with the same solutions every time, we could all become multi-millionaires, and every high street would appear the same, everyone would know our names, and, if we are lucky, we could all end up with “Mad Conman Disease”.

Tom Sayer

Baker Sayer

Burwash

East Sussex TN19 7PZ

You miss the point. Yes, our focus on Rodney Fitch – and others in the series of profiles by Richard Williams – looks back to an age in design that with hindsight might not have been that glorious. But it is also about a man who, like many, has changed in fortune and approach over the past ten years – and who, because of a very public image, has triumphed and suffered more publicly than most.

To contend that being big means you cannot do quality work is misguided. Size should not be an issue in design. Creativity, an understanding of client needs and effective management of staff and projects are what it’s about when it comes to doing the best job and wielding influence. And, anyway, in Government terms, all design consultancies are classed as small businesses.

It’s sad if we fall into the so-called “British disease” of sniping at someone because they are successful and prepared to stand up publicly for design in the broader context. There is likely to be an element of megalomania in it – not everyone is that bold – but, though working methods may change over time, what is any industry without visible leaders? – Ed.

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