by James Inedu George
Typically, the design community in Nigeria like most fast-growing places on the continent, is extremely tight for up and comers. It’s usually next to impossible to get work as a long-time practitioner: competition and back-stabbing are rife. The year is 2040, and you are just graduating from the university formerly known as UNILAG but now officially called MAULAG ( the government eventually won, collected an IMF loan and changed all the degrees to BTech). When you get to the gate, remember these lines and their potency, they will make you the greatest designer in Nigeria.
Find a friend, most probably in politics or better still a government official. Woo him; use any tricks you have to make his focus you. Ask for his most bizarre needs, satisfy them. If he has none, blackmail him. If he cannot be blackmailed, borrow a large sum of money from a lot of family members and bribe him.
Do not focus on design. Of all the things in design school, design is the most irrelevant, it costs a dime to buy, and there are more poor designers with amazing talent that will work for a song around you than there are roadworthy cars on a Lagos street. Ensure that you forget everything that they taught you in school. Now that you have your degree, the most important lesson from it is to forget about it. Buy a designer with amazing talent. All you need is a few expensive lunches and some wild promises.
Realize that learning to make things and detail them is a waste of your time. It takes too long. Rather, go for parties, mingle and let your pictures be on gossip blogs. Enjoy. Sleep every night. Snore. Get very drunk and go for every party. Follow parties and liquor to the ends of the continent, and as you do, make sure people see you. It is better for you when all prostitutes on Sanusi Fafunwa know you by name than if you can solve the most difficult design puzzles. Buy the most prestigious looking and expensive computer and sketchbook. Never open them, but take them to every meeting. Never let yourself go for meetings with an old model computer. Your clients must want to have your computer, if not how will they trust you with their money?
Monogram your shirts with your initials. Even the cheapest of shirts, once monogrammed can look like good and expensive design. Do not fuck around with your wristwatch too. If you need to rob, or prostitute yourself, do it, but wear a damn Rolex to every meeting. Monogram your diamond-crusted Rolex too. In addition to this, keep a harem of twenty-something-year-old girls. You’d be amazed how they’d come in hand as a tool for bargaining! You are a prostitute, but for Pete’s sake have a little class.
Tell the world you are an atheist, but go to church on Sunday and mosque on Friday. Network there. Dress appropriately. Be known in these places, remember, you are a classy whore.
You must live in the most expensive part of the city. A place you neither like nor can afford. Cut yourself off from familial ties once you get this place…re-brand yourself. Amass degrees you do not need and cannot afford, make sure they are expensive degrees. Cheat to pass your exams, bribe. Make yourself the most vocal person in the class, and always say you are a designer. They will give you floods of work in the future.
Take out an advert in a popular newspaper. Write about yourself in the third party. Refer to yourself as the greatest designer in Nigeria. Do this as regularly as possible. Burn this image into their minds. Do not enter competitions. Competitions are for wimps… why compete when you can buy contacts?
When you walk in for any meeting, give every member of the jury an Ipad. Let your generosity be your trademark. In a short while, people will gravitate towards you and say if he gives us this when we haven’t given him this job, imagine his generosity when he has the job.
If you have to steal it, drive a range rover -the most recent of them. If you don’t get on, settle for a second-hand sports car, but make sure no one else has one in the town. Have them spray it a very loud colour— people MUST see you coming.
Learn the art of deception and always put yourself in a position that you can wow clients from. Never be at a disadvantage, NEVER EVER carry unfinished work to present. Your product can be absolute rubbish, but ensure the packaging is the next best thing.
Remember, it isn’t about the product.
Employ all the funniest strategies ever. Always make your workers feel small and unintelligent without you. Call them names. Be vague about briefs and project expectations. When they have done all the work in the world, tell them it’s utter crap and make them work overnight on the same thing. Never sketch, always describe verbally something you’ve seen in some country as the solution to a project that has no resemblance to it. If they get the description in form, tell them that’s not what you meant.
Understand this; your allegiance is to the client. Better still your allegiance is to the clients’ impression of you. Only look responsible when there are clients or would-be clientèle in the room. For any other meeting, wear expensive sunshades and tell everyone how they owe their last breath to you. For example, how if you hadn’t picked them off the street and given them this job it’d have been all over for them. Make them feel how ordinary people felt when they talked with Abacha — like bloody civilians.
Lastly, never focus or dwell on the technical aspects of anything. That’s for those CAD monkeys and studio rats. You are a salesman. Be that!
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija