A Great Man

Polymath and iconoclast P. Scott Makela, who died suddenly on May 7 at age 39, seemed to be the pure embodiment of his time and place. He was a digitally-based designer whose highly charged graphics, film, and video work for such corporate and cultural clients as Nike, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, Propaganda Films, MCI, MTV, and Kodak pushed the boundaries of traditional design and perfectly expressed the excitement of new technology and global communications that characterizes the 1990s.

makelaDesign was both a religious and a sexual experience for Makela; his designs tapped into base emotions and elemental concepts. A typical Makela poster or composition reveals hierarchies of information. Juxtaposing bold typography with strong visual images, he created new levels of meaning from the raw materials of each assignment, going beyond what clients expected, to produce work uniquely his …

Does Sex Really Sell?

In nearby North Carolina, a man sneaks a sidelong glance at his neighbor as they stand at a row of urinals–“See how you measure up”–in a call-for-submissions poster for the Piedmont Triad Advertising Federation’s Addy competition. The theme reflects the contest’s rigid judging standards, and the Burris Agency in High Point was proud to have offended “the suits”: “If it doesn’t make someone nervous, you shouldn’t do it, because it will just be part of the general clutter,” reasons copywriter LeAnn Wilson-McGuire. Modestly accomplished, the poster delivers the informational goods while ridiculing awards as a yardstick by which designers measure their self-worth–and unlike the Virginia version, it skewers male vanity, letting women in on the daring, if dated, joke.

Let’s move up to the alleged urban sophistication of New York, where the Addy Club promotion emphasizes designers’ obsession with the …

Don’t Try To “Go Up Against” The IRS

dttgaFEW THINGS WILL RUIN YOUR DAY MORE THAN receiving an unexpected envelope with Internal Revenue Service marked on the return address. In spite of your best efforts to comply with the law, sometimes things go awry. If you understand the way the agency works, you can settle most disputes relatively quickly. But even when you begin to feel like you’re living inside a Kafka novel, there are a few steps you can take without incurring the cost of a lawsuit.

In two-thirds of small-business-owner clashes with the IRS, simply laying out the facts and answering any of the tax collector’s questions clears up the problem. Most of the rest can be settled within the agency’s own appeals mechanisms. There are two basic problems you’re likely to run into with the IRS: The agency made a mistake in its procedure …

Phone Systems: Madness Abound

psCONFUSED OR ANNOYED BY THE INCESSANT PITCHES OF long-distance telephone companies? To use a phrase that was popular in 1934, the last time Congress overhauled the nation’s telecommunications laws, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The 1996 telecommunications reform bill signed by President Clinton earlier this year will have a profound impact on home offices and small businesses. The legislation completely changes the landscape for wired and wireless communications, not surprising since most of today’s technologies were not even envisioned 62 years ago. But just how good is this news?

If all goes according to plan, the telecommunications system that has only recently yielded such handy home-office tools as call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calling, call return, auto redial and so forth–services that have long been available to big businesses at big cost–will soon enter a period of unprecedented innovation for …

Working From Home: It Rules, Simply Put

wfhWhen you decide to work from home, you give up all those delicious guilty pleasures of office life. Making personal phone calls on the company’s dime. Bringing home office supplies, or bags of coffee, or the occasional fax machine.

I don’t think the reality of self-employment hits home till the first time you go out and buy yourself a box of paper clips. Until that moment, paper clips have simply appeared in the office supply closet, left there late at night by the unseen Paper Clip Fairy. Suddenly you realize that the Paper Clip Fairy doesn’t make house calls.

But there’s no need to despair, my friend. Those of us daring–or foolhardy–enough to wean ourselves from the corporate teat get to wallow in our own share of guilty pleasures.

Like sleep. When I worked in an office, my feet had …

Consolidate Those Phone Numbers!

ctpnCOMPARE YOUR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS LIVES. MOST people have one name, one Social Security number, and one home address. Now think of your business card: office, 800, fax, and cell phone numbers. You don’t suffer this kind of confusion in your everyday life. Why do you put your clients through torture to track you down?

Hoping to tame this number jungle, several long-distance phone companies are now offering lifetime, or 500 prefix, numbers. These follow-me phone services let clients dial a single number to rind you–no matter where you roam. Whether you’re in your office, at home, in a remote office, or in your car, calls get through to you. Say goodbye to clients dialing three or four numbers and not finding you.

Follow-me services save you time and (possibly) money by ensuring that your customers can easily and immediately