DOUG BARTOW’S WAR ON MIRACLE WHIP

July 9th, 2012



The day before his 44th birthday, designer Doug Bartow, and founder of boutique design group id29 joins the DesignChat community for a little while.
Doug describes id29…
If you’re small and good with what you do you can be somewhat territorial with who you work with. We had the great fortune of, through just some personal friendships, working with Steve Case, the founder of AOL the first year as a business in 2004. We did some work for his personal foundation as well as for a business venture he launched in 2004 called Revolution. In 2007 we were the creative agency selected by Scholastic Books to do the creative for the US campaign for the 7th Harry Potter book which was a really big deal for a small shop in Troy, NY at the time. Basically we worked in secrecy for 6 months, because I’ve never been more scared by a corporate lawyer.
On “How to be a Better Client”…
We make some suggestions on how to pay your bills early and some gifts that might be appropriate for us, those kinds of things. I think there’s a lot in our industry that’s laughable, often times, and if you can’t laugh at yourself then you’re probably not a very good creative agency. It’s kind of a shot across the bow of our industry, but we make as much fun of ourselves as we do our potential clients.
It was also a narrative vehicle to get a couple pages of work in front of our potential clients. We got some good feedback, but some people were mildly offended. But its kind of a good filter, because if you’re mildly offended by that then maybe we’re not a good fit to work with you.
On his local design community involvement:
I think whats interesting about AIGA upstate NY is that we have an AIGA chapter that spans from Westchester to Massena to Buffalo Albany to the Souther tier so its the entire state of NY which is half of the population. So we have some geographic challenges and without… I think whats interesting is that when you leave design school you have this great tight-knit community of designers and mentors and people you can bounce ideas off of or people you can grab a drink with or go to a film with or go to an art opening, and I think when people start working, if they’re not in a really tight urban community where there’s a lot of events, you really have to go and make your community active. We’ve had some great success in the last couple years, just with a little bit of programming via Upstate NY AIGA in our area just to get people to come out and see different speakers, come out to events. We’ve put together some local gallery shows now in Albany in particular last year there that really is the first graphic design show thats been put on in Albany at the Albany Center Gallery.
What’s something that got you fired up in design today?
I think I’ve been in this business enough to not get offended visually by, either intentionally or accidental mistakes in identity design they way I used to when I was 22 or 23 and just wanted to go outside and scream at something. Particularly when one of my favorite brands would, well here’s an example… I couldn’t use Miracle Whip the other day because I just hate the new identity. So I was at a party and it was like you want some Miracle Whip and I said, “Let me see the package.” And I was like, “No, I’m not going to use this.” It was maybe a little snobby on my part, I’m not a fan of the product anyway, but that glyph is terrible, so I won’t buy it. But conversely I buy a bunch of crappy wine because I’m drawn in by the typography and I get it home and I open it up and its like, it stinks so I just wasted twelve dollars, but the label is soooahh awhhhhesuuuume.
Also, Doug reveals his REAL reason for locating his design shop above a brew pub.
The above paragraphs represent 1/100th of the awesomeness in this chat, so watch the show. And next time, participate in the live chats!
Doug Bartow is an art director and designer with over 20 years experience working with national and international clients. As Director of Design at MASS MoCA for 8+ years, Doug helped put the country’s largest arts center on the world’s cultural map by designing the museum’s identity system, exhibition and wayfinding signage, print collateral, catalogs and web presence (with only the help of an occasional summer intern.)
Doug left MASS MoCA in 2003 to co-found id29 in Troy, NY. Since opening its doors, id29 has collaborated to build powerful brands, campaigns and marketing strategies for clients such as: Pitney Bowes, Litespeed Bicycles, The Steve Case Foundation, The Travel Channel and Revolution Money, and was the agency behind Scholastic’s national campaign for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007.
Doug earned a BFA in graphic design from the State University of NY at New Paltz and a MFA in 2D design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where studied with Muneera Umedaly Spence and Katherine McCoy respectively. Doug is a Board Member of the UPSTNY Chapter of AIGA, and helps program events for eastern New York State.
Doug frequently lectures on design, and has written for design publications such as Speak Up and HOW Magazine. In 2010, Doug was named by Graphic Design USA as one of the top 50 People to Watch.
When Doug isn’t coaching youth soccer, or watching the U.S. Men’s National Team, he likes to play in the local over-30 men’s league and complain about muscle pulls to his wife and three junior soccer players at home.