Roger Black’s unveiling of Ready-Media, a new venture that offers off-the-shelf templates for print publishers, has caused quite a stir among designers who are just not in the mood to hear how easily we can be replaced.
Designers everywhere are feeling betrayed and belittled. And a little unnerved by the website image of a grinning Roger Black positioned next to the tagline “Just Add Content.”
Robert Newman at the Society of Publication Design blogged this development under the headline “Just Add Water.” Pentagram legend Paula Scher let loose in the comments section:
Call me an optimist, but I think this is good news for all terrific magazine designers everywhere. This is rock bottom. Rock bottom means there is nowhere to go but up. It happened in the 80s when magazine consultancies, Roger Black’s among them, produced cookie-cutter formats irrespective of content. It made the carefully art directed, editorially specific designs shine and spawned a decade of terrific in-house art direction.
And here we are again. Digital media scared editors, weakened designers’ power, and now this. Well everyone, hang in there. No one, not the cheapest publisher or editor wants to feel like they bought some cheesy bargain basement generic rip-off. And they will feel that way instantaneously. They will embarrass themselves in front of their peers.
This always shakes out, no matter where it comes from. Trust me. I’ve watched this cycle for forty years.
Charles Apple posted the news last night after receiving a slew of emails from colleagues. His word: “Ouch.”
But he didn’t stop there. He took umbrage at the product’s slogan, “Just add content.”
Just. Add. Content. Son of a bitch. I’ve just spent much of the past ten years teaching young designers and editors that design IS content. If you do it right.
I’m shocked by this. Much moreso than I was the Gannett hubbing announcement last week.
I’m also wondering if I should send back my Roger Black fan club card and my secret decoder ring.
Mr. Black just bought himself a truckload of bad will yesterday.
Update: On twitter, Roger Blacks linked to http://SPD.org:
“and the members pile on. Friends, this is an opportunity to rethink methodology, not a threat!”
And later, regarding the Pentagram reaction:
You know you’re getting through when you hit a nerve with the elite. Paula Scher slams Ready-Media at http://SPD.org. Thanks, Paula!