Last week I got an email from the Louisiana Press Association and there he was: Louie. I did a carcature of the owner of Louie’s Café in Baton Rouge for a print ad when I was an LSU student in the 70s. I added a big floppy chef’s hat just for kicks. It became his logo and it’s been stalking me ever since.
After being a graphic designer for over four decades I’m used to seeing my work reproduced on billboards, posters, t-shirts, specialty items and in publications large and small. I’ve also had designs stolen countless times. The thieves often thoughtfully include the “© Cole Williams” and the date on whatever item they are selling.
Friends ask why I don’t sue. Well, it’s hard to get your cut of t-shirt sales which are probably not reported to the IRS and go directly into the cash register behind the bar.
Gordon McKernan ain’t comin’ down from his 18-wheeler to cash in on this bonanza. What jackleg law firm would? I can just see their tag line: “We don’t get our cut of the three hundred and twenty-five dollars and forty-three cents until you get a check.”
The art bandits with pockets deep enough to make litigation worthwhile are generally wily enough to not include my name, copyright and date on the goods. Touché.
For about two years I had to drive past a billboard on Hwy 621 advertising a construction company on my way to work here at The Journal. On it was a piece of my line art they had photocopied from a a print ad somewhere. I meant to do some research to see if they used my illustration on their letterheads and other promotional materials but I never did. Not being litigious is one more thing that makes me unlike a certain former American president.
I rarely pay much attention when I see my work reproduced somewhere. However, about 15 years after I “designed” the Louie’s Café logo I was traveling alone and wound up on a tiny Carribean island off the Yucatan Penninsula. A girl sitting across from me in a cabana lit a cigarette and tossed her matchbook on the table. I thought maybe the mescal was making me hallucinate, but there he was, looking up at me from the matchbook cover. Louie sure does get around.
This gave me an excuse to strike up a conversation with this girl who, as luck would have it, was very cute. It turned out she was an LSU student and a waitress at Louie’s.
And no, you pervert, I didn’t get “lucky” with her. Or maybe I did. You’ll never know, you sicko.
Suffice it to say if she ever thought of me after that encounter, it was no doubt in terms of the saddest, most desperate pickup line she ever heard.
I’ll be collecting social security in the next few months and retirement is looming. I’ll be getting my first COVID 19 vaccine this weekend and I’m down to two days a week here at The Journal since the pandemic changed our lives a year ago. I so enjoy the time with my co-workers and plan to be here as long as they’ll have me.
In the meantime I’ll pursue my diabolical plan to make graphic design the career of choice for international playboys everywhere.