How the Alarming Number of Graphic Designers Without Work Unleashed in Me the Desire to Transform their Lives
As I type this, we are in the final few weeks of development of our new photo-editing app, Tweak, so I feel it’s time I wrote a piece detailing the idea behind the concept and how it came to be.
First, a bit of back story: I’m an illustrator, writer and Photoshop artist, working in the publishing, PC games and music industries for over 20 years.
I moved to Prague in the spring of 2006, landing a job as a photo-retoucher/editor for a top fashion photographer. After a few months, I became pretty well-known in the community so it wasn’t long before the local graphic design college approached me to come in and talk to the students about working with Photoshop.
At the beginning of the first lesson, I asked the students to raise their hands if they planned to pursue a career in graphic design.
Every hand shot up. I then asked if they subscribed to a monthly magazine. Not one hand went up. If the students themselves didn’t buy magazines, I thought, where did they think the jobs were going to come from? It was this that started the germ of an idea…
A couple of years later, I was sitting at a bench in one of Prague’s famous beer gardens with an attractive female friend. It was a gorgeous summer day and the light framed her head in a halo of golden curls so I snapped a couple of photos of her drinking and laughing in the sun. Later that week, I took a look at the results: beautiful girl, sun streaming through her hair, enjoying life: perfect! But WTF?! Directly behind her sat an enormous tourist, his low-slung jeans revealing a butt-crack of epic dimensions. No problem — I opened the photos in Photoshop and erased the tourist with the stamp tool in a matter of minutes.
Cut to summer, 2015. I was in the same beer garden telling a couple of graphic designers about the incident when it suddenly hit me! Why was it not possible for me to edit those photos as I sat with her that day instead of having to wait until I got home to do it?
Over the course of the next few hours, I outlined my plan: to create an app that linked users to an army of Photoshop wizards available 24/7 to retouch their photos and return them to their phones within minutes. I began to see how this could create regular income for thousands of under-employed or jobless graphic designers, those who had been trained for work in careers with plummeting salaries or, in the case of the printed media, no salary at all. I envisioned a new work force, working from home, cafes and libraries. No longer would these workers have to commute miles each day to jobs that barely paid the rent. With Tweak, these workers could dictate their pay, hours and environment.
That same day, I met my partners, Cedric Maloux and Carlos Meza, and, over the next couple of months, put flesh on the bones of the original idea. The simplicity of the concept, coupled with the fact that we were creating something that put people to work rather than robbing them of their livelihoods, made each meeting a joy to attend. To the sound of laughter and high fives, the concept evolved.
Almost everyone to whom we’ve explained the idea thinks it is revolutionary. However, there will always be those who will see the app as yet another threat to their ever-dwindling salaries. To them, I say this: over a million photos are uploaded to the internet EVERY MINUTE plus, for every photo uploaded, there are dozens that don’t make it due to an inherent flaw, glitch or photo bomb: there is more than enough work to go round.
According to a survey in Forbes magazine, graphic designers lag behind all others on the IT pay scale while 11.8 percent of all graduates are unemployed. It is these people who will benefit from Tweak the most.
Tweak will succeed or fail according to the stamina, speed and quality of our artists. In order to make this concept a reality, we need as many designers as we can to cater to the thousands of edit requests we expect as we head towards our launch date in March.
Help us to help you enter this revolutionary new age of employment! Sign up for Tweak as a designer today!