I take great pride in designing uniques pieces. As most designers I'm sure, I have had clients ask me to reproduce a printed piece of another designer's work that they took a liking to. While certainly easier and less time consuming, I gently refuse. This has caused some consternation with some clients, but in the end I prevailed.

Here is a story you might find amusing.

A number of years ago, I produced a direct mail piece for a very well known New York City institution. This institution used different designers for a number of projects including my firm. But they trusted me with doing all the production after hearing from the printers of the projects on how well they were produced, even commenting on how they were "idiot proof for their production staff" — their words not mine. The piece was finished and printed.

Shortly thereafter, I received a call from a large publishing company asking me to come in and bring a portfolio of some of my work — both design and production. Since the previously mentioned piece was recently in my possession, I brought it along.

In going through the work I had brought, the circulation director of the publishing company let out a string of words that I will not repeat here. She went on to pull a direct mail piece out of a file of a recently produced package for her firm. Each of the elements of the piece was nearly a dead ringer for the package I had brought, down to the size and colors — the only difference was rounded corner boxes vs. square of the layout and of course the copy and images.

The piece was designed by a well-known designer / copywriter team that charged a small fortune for their work (relative to many others in the industry). The circulation director was furious at having spent so much money on what she called their "design-of-the-month" thinking. All the more irksome was that many people receiving one package would receive the other due to traded mailing lists.

That "design-of-the-month" attitude does not exist here.


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