"The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy, the
building of a house, the writing off a novel, the demolition of a bridge,
and, eminently, the finish of a voyage."
Two years before Speak was published, I hired Martin; he was my first
official employee. He was just out of grad school, but it felt more like
he was interviewing me than the other way around. He had all of these
standards editorially, artistically, even regarding the kind of
ads we should accept. It didn't seem like he even wanted the job.
When I first came to Speak I had no interest in editorial design. I didn't
read magazines. Magazine design was becoming a focus of interest in design
school, but looking at it politically and critically, seeing design as
a commodity that ad agencies used to sell the same old gizmos. Coming
off that ideology, I was particularly cautious.
job was to design Speak's media kit. I wasn't happy with his initial directionlots
of color, balloons, a picture of a buffalo. It was nothing like his dark,
more organic student work, which was visually very strong and exactly what
I was looking for. But he made it clear that he wasn't going to start over
and instead tried to persuade me that he was right and I was wrong. I had
lots of problems with designers on a previous project, and at this point
I was convinced they were all arrogant twits.
Speak media Kit was needlessly long and elaborate, so much so that
many advertisers thought it was the actual magazine
The work I did on the first media kit was highly computerized.
All of the energy of things I did at school just disappeared. I was very
insecure. I looked less at the fact that we were all on the same team,
and more that Dan was getting into my territory and pulling rank. I had
to defend what I was doing, even though I didn't know what I was doing.
I finally got so frustrated that I fired him and tried to get my design
deposit back. When he refused to return it, I sued him.
I hired an attorney for an hour to get advice. She said
that all of the work I did, even if it wasn't approved, couldn't be legally
ignored. She suggested I count up all of the hours spent on the project
just to show the scope of my investment and counter-sue.
Martin counter-sued me for more money than the whole project
would have paid to begin with, things that were never agreed upon, including
his time for a first interview before he was hired. I sent him a letter
saying I was surprised he didn't sue me for time to put on his pants in
The judge ruled against both lawsuits and as I was leaving the
courthouse, after all the animosity, I heard Martin call me. I looked
back, and with total sincerity he wished me good luck with everything.
It was very disarming. I thought, maybe he isn't such a twit after all.
got a call from Dan saying he had hired another designer, it hadn't gone
well, and would I be interested in returning to the project. Other designers
couldn't imagine why I would want
to work again for someone who had wronged me, and I was thinking
"because I need to do something, it's still an opportunity." It's
not like there were lots of other creative projects to chose from. There
weren't enough compelling reasons not to come back, and they were all
based on pride and self-respect, which I had so little of anyway.
world is hungry for more than food" was taken from a Christian
tract that I literally stumbled over on Market Street. It seemed
like the perfect sentiment for Speak.
The media kit and first issue went smoothly, from a design
perspective at least. But just after the magazine came out, I told Martin
that I hired another designer, David Carson. I was surprised that he was
so upset because, at the time, David was one of the best-known designers
in the country, we all admired his work so much, and somehow Martin should
I was just in the midst of sending out the first issue
with letters telling everyone that this is the first of a long line of
issues. And now what was I going to tell them?
"Oh, by the way, I was fired." I didn't particularly care whether
hiring David Carson was a good move for Dan's magazine or not. Obviously
my priority was my career.
It was apparent that things weren't going to work out
with David almost from the beginning. Even though we hadn't formed much
of a friendship, I kept in touch with Martin because I had a feeling he
was going to be Speak's art director again.
I haven't actually seen Martin face to face that much. We had a lot of
phone contact, and though I didn't take it personally, he never seemed
interested in anything besides getting me to transfer the phone to Dan.
I've never met Martin. I've never even talked to him.
One time Martin was proofing color outputs and my girlfriend Nikki was
there. Among all the spreads of his design on the floor, she was drawn
to this bright sunset, which happened to be a Marlboro ad. That was an
awkward moment. But she later said something nice to him and he seemed
to genuinely appreciate it.
Martin is a difficult person to get to know. He always
has obstacles to deal with, every day seems to be a bit of a struggle
for him, but in a humorous, self-deprecating way.
Some day I'd like to have a chat with Martin and tell him how much I appreciate
his work. Or maybe I'll just e-mail it.
Martin is a nice guy, but he can sometimes be aloof. I
get the feeling that if I were to walk up and hug him, he would stiffen
up, and maybe even crumble into pieces. Of course so would I.
I felt like
Martin had a problem with me from day one. It was so extreme. He wouldn't
say hello or good morning. He completely ignored me. Dan said,
"Don't worry about it." So I didn't worry about it.
I liked Elisabeth
at first. But she was Dan's buddy and any time I would try to speak up
and say, "She's bugging
me," Dan was going to get on my case.
I got the
feeling that any conversation in the office bothered Martin. I felt fatalistic
about it because I had to talk to Dan. I continued to try to be friendly
to him, say, "How
are you?" When I went out, I always asked Martin if I could get
page from the second Speak media kit. Printed with the original
Speak logo and only used for two months. Extremely rare!
the beginning Elisabeth would talk to me a little to try to ease the tensions
around the office, but she quickly realized that Dan was the one responding
to her and that's when her talking just wouldn't stop. I had my earphones
in, I turned the volume all the way up, but I resented being leashed to
my computer. And even through the earphones I could hear her perfectly
was still in college, she came off as pretty arrogant and opinionated.
Martin had her pegged as a typical Stanford know-it-all. But I liked her
and saw it as a bit of a show. She was as insecure as the rest of us,
she just expressed it differently. Of course Martin was never going to
see this because he wouldn't interact with her.
very nice to Dan either. Dan would say something to him and Martin would
snap or wouldn't even respond.
I haven't liked anything you've done for me since the day you were born