Seriously, Folks

Rarely can one can equate anything that a designer does during the course of a normal workday with a potentially prosecutable offense, but Mitch Mosallem, a former executive vice-president of graphic services at Grey Worldwide, managed to confound that common sense by landing himself in jail for about six years. According to Adweek’s account of the affair: “Mosallem pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with former salesmen at The Color Wheel, a New York-based print production house, to rig bids and overbill Grey clients such as Brown & Williamson on print work.”

It’s weird to see something as basically innocuous as graphic design have such disastrous consequences, isn’t it? What’s so disconcerting about Mosallem’s situation is that it’s almost the stuff of made-for-TV movies, and yet imagining designers in any scenario worth of popular entertainment — whether a life-threatening situation or a weepy melodrama — is generally an exercise in absurdity (all apologies to Mosallem’s family for the very real misfortune they’ve suffered). Take a graphic designer out of the context of graphic design and place that person in a much more serious context — like corporate embezzlement — and it somehow becomes difficult to take him or her very seriously. Why is that? Is there something inherently ridiculous about the job I’m showing up for every day? Should I become a fireman?

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One Comment

  1. I have to say, right on – I’ve had the same question of design as a “valid” industry for years. However, if you tie the design horse to the cart of business practices (which, IMHO, it ultimately always is), I think the next logical step has to do with accountability for one’s actions. I’m not convinced this instance is so ridiculous. maybe call a spade a spade – questionable business practices are questionable business practices, no matter what the profession. If the SEC had held public design/technology/integration shops partially (read “more”) accountable for their actions a few years ago, I think the underbelly of the business side of the design profession would have been exposed. (and yeah, i know it gets messy bringing public companies into this discussion, but the shops themselves were accountable to some degree, and yeah, I was a designer for one of the most obnoxious of the lot).

    Pixel-pushing and well crafted arguments versus entering life-endangering burning buildings to save orphans? Personally, I’m leaving the computer now to go have a stiff drink and tell myself that I matter in the world.