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February 28th, 2006

Kids Aren’t Designers!

Every year, the city of Chicago holds a contest for kids to design the city’s vehicle sticker. And every year the public gets to vote on the designs. Here’s one thing that all the designs have in common: they stink. They do. They’re by kids, so I’m not expecting greatness – I’m expecting them to look like kids’ drawings.

But I, for one, am tired of cities around the country leaning on its kids to take the role that designers take. I’ve had enough of it. The first time they did it, it was cute. The second time, it was kind of cute. But now it’s the 185th time, and it’s no longer cute – it smells like a cost-cutting measure.

On a similar note, the Chicago Transit Authority is rerouting one of its train routes in the city. Given that every route has a color (Red Line, Brown Line, etc.) and all of ROY G. BIV are accounted for (save Indigo), they’re – guess! – asking kids to pick the color. Kids have to write a 200-word essay on the new color. The prize for the right color is a $1,000 savings bond.

I have a feeling deep down that it’s going to be the Pink Line. But that’s beside the point. The point is, the CTA has a staff of designers. The change to the line color is going to be a quick one, and all of the station signage needs to be changed. Wouldn’t it just make more sense and be cheaper to pick a damn color and get the stuff going? Heck, if you want, pick three and let the residents of affected neighborhoods vote. Or two! Just two.

Instead, no. Kids again are given the power of designers. Cute the first time. I’d think it was great if I had a kid, and she won. But it’s tiring, overall, and is just a feel-good process that has no real benefit. Pick a color for the line. Hire a designer for the city stickers. Let the kids doodle and have those doodles hung on their parents’ refrigerators.

Posted in Pop Culture

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