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MudCorp® Corporate Website

Thursday March 30, 2023.

MudCorp is the studio of Takashi Okamoto specializing in graphic design, web design, technology art and software & hardware implementation. Our services include website designing and programming, custom e-commerce and content management systems, hardware and software solutions for interactive kiosks, signage design for electronic displays, technology consulting and any other project that involves both design and technology.
For new business inquires or If you want to say hello, please use the contact form to send me a message. I will respond as soon as possible.
Takashi Okamoto is a graphic designer, programmer and technology artist living and working in North America. His illustrations have appeared in magazines and newspapers including: The New York Times, The National Post and Shift Magazine. As a graphic designer, he has worked with studios including 2x4, Stiletto, Village and artists Ben Rubin and Natalie Jeremijenko. His technology based art has been exhibited in Canada and Mexico. He holds a (Hons) BSc in astrophysics from the University of Toronto, a MFA in graphic design from Yale University and a SM from the MIT Media Lab, where he studied under Professor John Maeda in the Physical Language Workshop. Currently, he is a partner at BuzaMoto.


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Takashi Okamoto (10/15/05)

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Reality television is everywhere, and it has expanded into the online world. We can’t call it television anymore, instead, it needs to be renamed: Reality Programming. There are many reasons for the popularity of reality programming; both for the viewers who are viewing it, and the producers who are producing it. But this essay isn’t about discussing the reality programming industry; instead it’s about how it has entered the world of graphic design in the worst way possible.

Aquent: graphic designer’s big pimp partners up with Adobe, the soon to be monopoly software giant in the creative industry to produce a reality show competition for graphic design. It’s called Studio Smackdown. The idea is simple, and summarized on their site:

…our five contestants will face four weeks of challenges that will push their Macromedia Flash and Adobe Creative Suite 2 prowess to the outer limits…you’ll see their work posted online, along with video confessionals revealing their creative decision-making and soul-searching…you’ll be the judge of who deserves to reach the next round — and which designer is just a flash in the pan.

American Idol meets WWE. That was my initial reaction. Of course that gave me a stink of cheese, but I decided to bare the unfortunately long loading time (and the really crappy load bar) and didn’t close the browser window. Like all contests, I wanted to see what was at stake. So naturally I navigated to “Show us the Prizes!” All five participating contestants receive: Adobe CS Suite 2, Canon Camcorder and Apple Gift Certificates. But what’s the big prize. What is the reward for fighting your way through the rounds, all the way to the top? $5,000 in cash!

Wait…$5,000? Surely the Grand Prize is more than $5,000, right? It’s a contest that lasts up to four weeks. How much is that after taxes?

Of course $5,000 is $5,000 dollars. I’d use it to get some sweet gear and fill my fridge with import beer. But it’s nothing I’d write home about. Okay, so maybe these contestants are new comers in design: in school or just out, and really motivated to get in the industry? I decided to “Meet the Contestants.”

It seems all the contestants are older than me, and they seem to have more experience, and have already been working in the industry for a while. They also conveniently have a link to their portfolio on Aquent, and there’s even a button you can click to hire them! Oh, so the contestants are also Aquent whores.

Hmm…I’m really confused now. Let’s go back to the prizes. All the contestants are already experienced and deemed Aquent-quality talents; whatever that means. I don’t know what they are used to getting, but the grand prize is just over $1000/wk. Looking through their work, if you’re stuck doing corporate crap work, $1000/wk is nothing for an experienced designer. Also, why would they care to get the Adobe CS 2? If they are already experts with the tool, shouldn’t they already have a copy?

So it’s not about the money or the prizes. It’s about winning and becoming the envy of all other designers in the industry? Well, if that’s the case, whoever produced this contest did a pretty shitty job. This contest is totally a joke, the challenges are boring, the work being produced is really bad and to top it off, it’s not entertaining.

I’m glad this stupid contest exists. This is just an example of how the graphic design industry exists in North America – it is singly supported by corporations and selling commercial products. People don’t realize that graphic design gives the visual identities of a society’s time and place. I guess it will take another 50 years before people look back and see how things got ass ugly. Okay, we’re getting off-topic — this essay is still about the lame design contest.

How can we make this contest actually entertaining? Well, the obvious is to make the prizes better. Turn that $5,000 into $50,000. Even NBC’s Fear Factor gives away $50,000 on a weekly basis. They can probably afford that because Joe Rogan works for pennies since his career peaked during News Radio. Or forget money all together and take The Apprentice approach. Give the winner a six-figure design director job at some big advertising agency. Isn’t that the sort of job that people who are with Aquent look forward to?

When the stakes are high, you can make the challenges more ridiculous (and thus entertaining.) If Fear Factor can make meat-head jocks and hot girls in bikinis eat pig testes for a chance to win $50,000, imagine what you can make a designer do? Here’s an idea for the first challenge. The contestants all have to work at Kinko’s design service for a week; taking on real work that comes through the door, on-location using their beat up computers. The final judging will be customer satisfaction. The prize can be: lifetime free design by Kinko’s (just kidding.)

I hope there’s no Studio Smackdown 3 in the works, because this is just an embarrassment. I think they’ll run out of challenges too…I mean, how many more assignments can you rehash from a bad communications class? I know this turned out to be a bitch session, but this contest offends me as a graphic designer and I think any self-respecting designer will feel the same…unless you have an Aquent portfolio.