A year ago, I made an IGTV explaining why I use "Don't Be a Dick" in my product range. For me, it's quite personal, so I wanted to share with you.
Back in 2016, I was working for a very high profile animation studio. The culture of the studio was fun, vibrant and professional, but there was always a strange, underlying tension of favouritism. Sometimes it felt like maturity in the workplace didn't matter and any behaviour was fine (...I mean, one kid in there used to occupy half his screen with youtube and watch TV whilst animating. I meeeean, really?). Anyway, the studio was truly wonderful, so this isn't a piece to disrespect their legacy, I just want to create perspective and set the scene for you.
One of the directors was off to a HUGE animation festival, to showcase the studio's exciting portfolio and offer advice to anyone looking to get into the industry. He asked all of us in the studio what our advice would be. I shared some insight from when I graduated from Aardman, where the head of animation said to us "Don't Be a Dick". So, I shared this in the big group email. Everyone started sharing their own thoughts and insight too. It was lovely. Someone mentioned they were told not to smell bad at work and as a joke, someone replied with "they told me not to smell and not to be a dick".
Aaaaayway, the director went with the "Don't Be a Dick" sentiment, and an image of his final presentation slide, with those words in big, huge letters, to a packed auditorium, was shared across the industry. Our director shared the picture with everyone in the studio (see pic) then thanked the person who repeated what two of us had already said (he, incidentally, was one of the studio "favourites")... When. It. Was. Me. Who. Should. Have. Been. Thanked. Was I bitter? Hell, yes! I wanted and craved that recognition, goddammit. Then to add insult to injury, this person who got the praise, didn't correct him and give me the credit... like, any kind and decent person might have done. Let it go, Marc. Let it go!
The studio takes people on for contracts per project, there are seldom full-time jobs on offer. For me (and others, I'm sure), there was constant anxiety of "will I have a job in three months". It was a lot to carry on our shoulders...so for me, that teeny tiny piece of recognition might have given me a better sense of value that the studio wanted me. It would have been a boost to my self-esteem, without a doubt. With so many artists, and so few jobs, the sense of competition and comparison was always immense. Looking back now, I wish I could have told myself to relax. Even so, I'm not sure I would have been in a place to listen. I find today, not having that pressure on me, is a feeling I'm glad I don't have in my life anymore. The only judging I feel is just from myself, haha.
So, long story long, "Don't Be a Dick", is not just my message of treating other people with kindness, it's also about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
So, this anti-valentines collection, expands upon my initial "Don't Be a Dick" print, in reclamation of the celebration I really needed to feel at that time, all those years ago. I'm calling it my "Anti-Valentines" collection, because to me, Valentines Day is too commercial and highly problematic. It makes single people feel inadequate and increase their sense of loneliness - when being single IS NOT a symbol of inadequacy or loneliness at all. We are force fed that narrative by commercial outlets telling us to buy romantic gestures for the ones we love. But in reality, we should be celebrating love EVERY DAY, not just once a year.
So, my message to commercial enterprises who align themselves with this archaic narrative: "Don't Be a Dick". Treat everyone fairly, with love and kindness.
You can find my DontBeADick collection here.
To see some of the animations I made at the studio, you can find them on my MarcoLooks Youtube channel here.
Thanks for reading,