Some Thoughts from the Graphic Designer Behind The GOP’s New Postcard Tax Return

Nov 02 2017

When the call comes, will you be ready?

It’s a question all Christians must ask. I’ve asked it of myself on many a Sunday morning, tucked into, as usual, the 138th pew at my beloved Church of the Good Lands next to my beautiful wife, our adored daughter Chloeline, and 400,000 of our fellow parishioners.

The last thing I expected as a graphic designer with 30+ years experience working at every level of the brand marketing industry, was that one day this theological question would manifest itself as literally and directly as it had for Moses with the burning bramble.*

When Kentucky Fried Chicken asked me to rebrand them for a world that suddenly thought the word “fried” was a bad thing, I didn’t bat an eye. When the multinational nonprofit Kars4Kids came to me and said, “We know you’re a graphic designer and not a songwriter, but can you just save us some money and write the best jingle you can?” I didn’t break a sweat. But when Paul Ryan walked through my door and said, “How are you at postcards?” I knew not only that this was my call, I knew I was ready.

The author, ready for the call!

Much like Day One of the Lord’s good work on those six days so long ago — but not that long, scientists! — it all began with a sketch. Sure, the GOP’s tax plan is way simpler than the current one, but it’s still quite a lot of copy to fit in 5.8 x 4.1 inches. When we sketch, we imagine the world not as it is, but as it should be. Much like how the tax plan itself correctly imagines a world where making the rich richer also makes everyone richer. My early sketches for the card told a story, a story that every American taxpayer would one day finish in his own inimitable fashion.

The sketches led to drafts, the drafts led to mock-ups and the mock-ups led to a PDF which I breathlessly emailed to Mr. Ryan’s office, after a full 14 minutes of painstaking work. But, as they say, when you love what you do, is it really work?

Before I go any further, I want to address the question you’re all skimming ahead to see if I answer. No, I’m not going to talk about fonts. A clever font choice is the crutch of an amateur. Yes, I’m sure your senior thesis was a feast for the typographically-focused eyes, but my work doesn’t concern itself with the flash and flare of surface delights. A simple Abadi or Trade Gothic is all I or anyone else needs, end of discussion.

I must also comment on the left’s baseless criticism that the postcard’s use of blue and red was as predictable as it was pedestrian. I beg to differ. To borrow a phrase invented by a trailblazer not unlike myself, this is “fake news.” Myred and my blue are their own fully-realized creations that harken back to the earliest days of the republic. When a taxpayer fills out this postcard, the color scheme lets him know he is part of something greater than himself and his standard deduction. In that moment, he is the American dream.

Oh, how my heart soared this morning when I saw my life’s greatest work clutched in the hardy hands of the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee! It was no longer a simple direct mail piece, it was a signal, a talisman, a glossy-finished defense against the dark arts of socialism and the nanny state alike. Who would have thought that a humble former watercolorist turned marketing professional like myself would one day, armed with nothing more than Adobe Creative Cloud license and a lifetime of experience, shake the very foundations of our financial structure? Who indeed?

When the call comes, will you be ready?

Yes, Lord. I was.

Also, Speaker Ryan, I’m still waiting for my $230 invoice of 9/27/17 to be processed. Could you check with your Accounts Payable department?

*As a Christian and a hobby horticulturalist, I prefer to use the correct terminology.