07 June 2009

product perfect... perfect products

As a teenager working in the sign shop down the street, I was surrounded by bikes and bikers. Not the pedaling sort, but the motored kind. Outsiders might recon that this meant some ruff influence with unruliness not fully endorsed by the parents. But the influences that stuck were from the music and art. Rock and roll is obvious… but the other was pin striping. In their spare time these guys were decorating bike fenders, gas tanks and were often paid for striping trucker’s rigs.

When body ink began gaining traction a dozen or so years ago, it was not a huge surprise to see many of those visual elements from striping find their way to shoulders, arms, lower backs and other more discrete locations. The immergence of graffiti as a legitimate art form was a bit of a surprise but its influence on body art was not.

So none of this is really news, and you might be asking what is the point?

More and more these forms and imagery have been showing up in mainstream items, from t-shirts, dress shirts, jeans and even household fabrics. It is a far less committed way of wearing body art. What is striking about the third or fourth iteration of these visual elements is the embrace of what a product manager might deem a defect. None of these canvas, the human body, a brick wall, or a truck body panel constitute anything close to a perfect canvas. The uncontrollable elements of shape, dimension, texture and material effect, in a substantial way, the outcome of the final product. These ‘defects’ or artifacts have come to be embraced. The imperfections are a huge part of what makes this cool to those willing to fork over a few bucks… and display it. It’s worth noting even when generating technology products, that the consumer has influence here… and that perfection is not always perfect. Those imperfections may in fact become desired attributes.