Wednesday 25 May 2011

For one day only, share your worst creative projects with impunity.

Contribute on Twitter using the #creativeamnesty hashtag.

We'll collect some of the best examples here.

Brought to you by Creative Review and Nick Asbury of Asbury & Asbury.

UPDATE 27 MAY 2011
Thanks to the brave people who took part in this. I've pulled the whole story together on Storify – read it here.

I was once asked to write the horoscopes for a retailer's magazine, including subtle plugs for the retailer. I said yes.

Sample copy: 

"Next week sees you feeling surprisingly carefree and risk-taking for a Virgo – just go with it! Oh, and is that a celebration round the corner? Maybe it’s time for that new outfit after all..."

"By the end of the month, you’ll be feeling more than ready for a little TLC. A chance to spend some ‘you’ time, like all Sagitarrians love to do! Could a bit of pampering be in order? Go on, treat yourself."

I'm sorry everyone.

Nick Asbury @asburyandasbury 

My first design job was at 'Images', the in-house design team at Bolton Council. A brief came up to design the Bolton 2000 millennium logo. One of the routes I came up with involved a '2' followed by three balloons to denote the zeroes. My boss liked it but suggested we needed to get the idea of ethnic diversity in there. The rest of the job unfolded like a slow-motion car crash. We ended up with three balloons - white, brown and black - with an ethnically representative face hand-drawn on each one. I wish I still had the visuals. They are probably locked deep in a vault somewhere in Bolton.

Sue Asbury @asburyandasbury

OK, my most shameful secret is that the first design project I got at art college was to create a series of pictograms. Taking an animal and reducing it down to create an iconic shape.

Keen to impress, I set about the task with great gusto, until I realised that I just couldn't do it. Passion turned to panic and I searched for inspiration. I came across the perfect thing. It was a pictogram of a Lion. I'd never seen it before and assumed it was a small thing and they wouldn't mind if I borrowed it. So I completely ripped it off, submitted it and received the huge praise that I'd been dreaming of. End of story.

Until the week later it was revealed as the new Team GB logo, ready for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. And was lovingly featured on every object you might hope to find in any good supermarket. As well as featuring on TV commercials and in print advertising. You get the picture.

I learned a very valuable lesson that day. 

Stuart Watson @stuwdesigner

Stuart works at Venture Three and led the Little Chef rebrand that has recently won widespread praise and features absolutely no animal pictograms.

No single howler to mention, but my career has included several dubious moments that I wouldn't mention on any other day than this:

—One of my designs won a packaging award at the Nantwich Cheese Festival
—I once saw a celery box I designed, in a gutter in Greece.
—I was responsible for the machine that vomited out this logo

—I have urinated with Spiekermann
—I took Michael Johnson to buy chicken feed
—I used to horizontally scale Times New Roman to 25% for a living (circa 1989)
—Got my name into Creative Review. They spelt it wrong.

Richard Weston @acejet170

Richard now works at Thought Collective, where he mainly experiences career high points.

Two weeks into my first job I was tasked with designing the event collateral for a gala dinner themed around the concept ‘Saturday Night Live.’

We began researching all things disco referencing mirror balls, multi coloured lights and smoke machines. Part of our delivery was a centre piece for each table. After a few rounds of presenting glittery, mirror-based constructions we were sent an illustration, downloaded straight from Google, of John Travolta all suited up, spinning a mirror ball on his finger.

“More like this please,” we were told.

After a couple more rounds of poorly received concepts we were sent the image again.

“Exactly like this please,” we were told.

I then proceeded to illustrate and design a one foot high cardboard cut out of John Travolta, all suited up, spinning a mirror ball on his finger. We even used metallic inks on the mirror ball, for that extra special zing.

Upon receiving samples from the printer my suspicions were confirmed. I had designed the ugliest centre piece in the history of gala dinners. 

Chris Doyle @chris_j_doyle

As well as John Travolta cut-outs, Chris Doyle's work includes Yellow Pencil-winning personal identity guidelines and This Year I Will Try Not To – nominated in two D&AD; categories this year. He works at Interbrand Sydney.

Michael Johnson of @johnsonbanks adds a very fine contribution here

Designed (c.1999) one set of 'King' playing cards for a once well-known picture library.
Terrible creepy and not very good look-a-like/idea/visual. Less said, the better.

Mark Wheatcroft @WheatcroftandCo

Mark now runs his own company.

—Posted without comment

Michael C. Place @BuildsBlog

Respected brand writer wears half a Safeway supermarket for legendary 'Taste of Safeway' campaign. Full story here.

Jim Davies @totalcontent

“The day I discovered I have a football-shaped head.”
Another respected brand writer confesses to a compromising photo shoot.

Tim Rich @66000mph

Many thousands of years ago, I went for a coffee with a good friend, another copywriter.

He immediately began telling me about a press ad he’d just seen. It was for a charity helping those with cancer.

The charity was trying to raise money by selling specially commissioned Christmas cards. My friend was disgusted by the crass insensitivity of the ad. He clearly HATED it and anyone even tenuously involved in its creation.

The wording was something like: “Tacky Christmas cards and cancer. Help
stop the misery they bring.”

I cleared my throat, stared sheepishly at my cappuccino and confessed that, um, the offending headline was... er... mine.


Chris Miller @MrCCMiller