I (heart) Dicks

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, our capital city was a mecca for graphic designers and copywriters because it boasted an unusual abundance of quality advertising agencies and design studios.

Then came the dark days of mergers, followed by the creative apocalypse that began with the web. As much as the internet placed  printing, illustration, typography, photography  and graphic design within reach of everyone, it also had the effect of completely diluting and devaluing those domains for those of us who had invested in an arts education or had spent years learning the intricacies of quality printing.

A year ago, I stopped taking jobs from anyone who is not either an art director or someone I already know and enjoy working with.

My Royal Consort and I are saving up for a big trip next winter, so when Alex, a print broker for promotional items, asked me to turn a quick production art trick for him I agreed to come out of “retirement.”

Print promo products can be a painless income stream for a someone who is handy with vector graphics software. Generally, the print promo reps ask me take their clients’ rough sketches  and render them into digital files that can be printed on everything from pens to frisbees.

Alex explained to me that his client had placed an order for, incredibly, women’s T-shirts with  I ♥ DICKS across the front.

When I got the sketch from Alex, I tried to imagine who might wear such a T-shirt. Would she be a svelte creature, or would she be Rubenesque? Would she wear her dick shirt with spandex biking shorts and crocs, or would she only wear it when she climbed into bed with nothing but her Beanie Babies and a Pocket Rocket for company?

I love dicks as much as anyone else. I love the  hydraulic properties of dicks, and how they can allow a person to actually write his name, or anyone else’s name, in the snow. I love that big, strong dudes have to protect their dicks from direct sunlight and sudden impact just like we ladies have to protect our breasts from those things, too. Mostly, I love dicks because they belong to guys and I love, love, love guys. Nevertheless, I would have to be brain dead and blind to wear an I ♥ DICKS T-shirt.

I assumed that no guy would ever wear a T-shirt that said “I ♥ DICKS” and I was correct, however, a little more research revealed that some men will wear a T -shirt that says I ♥ MY DICK, whereas the ladies overwhelmingly prefer their shirt to simply say “I ♥ DICK”. This subtle difference in syntax and sentence structure perfectly illustrates the bewitching modesty of so many women today because it creates ambiguity. For all we know, the dick could be a proper noun, not a common noun.

Some readers might remember the twenty-seven year old  I ♥ NY campaign that was unleashed in 1977 by Milton Glaser as a means of promoting tourism in the New York City, and obviously, Alex’s client did too. We have this campaign to thank for all the I ♥ items that have gushed forth ever since.

As I went about the business of setting up the files, I thought of all the groundbreaking things the client could do with dicks to create a powerful and unforgettable  advertising campaign. Here’s a sampling of some of my ideas.

  1.  Got Dick?
  2. Flick Your Dick
  3. A Little Dick Will Do ya
  4. America Runs On Dick
  5. Please Don’t Squeeze The Dick
  6. Where’s The Dick?
  7. Reach Out And Touch Some Dick
  8. Sometimes You Feel Like A Dick, Sometimes’ You Don’t
  9. Let Your Dick Do The Walking
  10. It’s Dick Licking Good

Alex’s client  had reasoned, with the myopic acuity of the visually illiterate and conceptually defective non-creative, that 1) “I love dicks” was a great campaign for their business, and 2) that the well heeled New Yorkers pouring into our state this summer would be so impressed by the reference to a three decades old advertising campaign, that they would dance and sing with childlike wonder when they were reacquainted with it.

Because I am old enough to remember the venerable advertising campaign of 1977, I immediately got the reference, but never dreamed that we would actually go for the whole enchilada and revive the bygone campaign of yore with typography, color and layout. That bit of art direction had not been given, and because I was hired as a production artist, not a designer or clairvoyant, I had not made any assumptions.

My failure of imagination dogged me to the tune of five proofs. At the second proof it was revealed to me  that they were in fact going for the Milton Glaser look. The next iterations (Proofs #3 and #4) had to do with the stacking of the type, which, for a myriad of boring graphical reasons, was just not going to work with “DICKS” the same way it worked with “NY”.

By Proof #5, with the “I” and the “♥” awkwardly straddling the DICKS in a typographical lap dance, I could feel myself becom­ing hys­ter­i­cal on the phone with Alex. “Just tell them it’s a horrible idea and to leave the type flush left instead of fucking around with the space between the ‘I’ and the heart!” I urged. I was envisioning another three or four proofs and the thought of it was making me foam at the mouth.

Alex, who has no plans to retire anytime soon, made soothing sounds, and I struggled to regain my composure after realizing that I had just dropped an F-bomb on a client.

Luckily, a shortage of time, created by all the dicking around, brought my involvement with this project to its natural conclusion and I was able to take a moment to renew my vow of Design Celibacy which clearly states “Thou Shalt Not Work For Anyone Who Is Not An Art Director.”








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  1. Jody says:

    Doubled up in laughter at your ten ideas.

  2. Kathy says:

    Love your top ten ideas! Great article, who knew the complexities of a simple phrase?

    1. admin says:

      I WISH those had been my ideas originally…then I’d be rich and wouldn’t have to mess around with dicks

  3. elizabeth says:

    My husband’s father was married to Mary Wells Lawrence so I have printed out this fabulously funny post to share with him at breakfast. Any suggestions for the menu?

    1. admin says:

      Yessss! I am super excited to hear that. Thank you! I wish I had thought to put Flick your Bic in the list. Damn! Gonna go back and add it now, so the subscribers won’t see it, but maybe someone else will.

  1. Story Like You Mean It | The Flip Side says:

    […] Related: I (heart) Dicks […]

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