Chipotle Mexican Grill takes a shot at the corporate food industry and upstages the Grammy’s

If you got the chance to catch this year’s Grammy Awards you might have seen the new Chipotle Mexican Grill commercial titled “Back to the start” which was the eighteen year-old company’s very first national ad campaign. Chipotle is a Mexican restaurant that falls into a fairly new dining category they describe as “fast-casual”.

They have a minimal menu offering three choices of entrees including tacos, burritos and burrito bowls which consist of the burrito ingredients served in a bowl without the flour tortilla. You can choose between grilled chicken breast or steak and shredded pork or beef as well as a vast number of veggies, rice, beans and condiments.This “fast-casual” concept differs from traditional fast food in that they use premium ingredients and value the quality of the food they buy over the quantity of food they sell.

I live within ten miles of at least two Chipotle’s, have walked right by them on hundreds of occasions and for some reason I’ve never stopped in and seen what they had to offer. I go out to eat quite often; I even frequent the Bobby’s Burger Palace right next door to my closest Chipotle and I still never noticed them. Then, on Grammy night during the break I decided to grab a quick snack and when I came back the Chipotle commercial was just beginning. It is an animated ad that opens with a farmer working on his farm that is full of happy cows and pigs roaming free in the pasture which is exactly what people would imagine a farm to be like. A song called “The Scientist” by ColdPlay is covered by Willie Nelson and is playing in the background. As the animation progresses we watch as the farmer slowly turns his free‐range farm into an industrial feedlot in efforts to produce a larger quantity of food. The once happy cows and pigs are now kept in tiny cages so close to one another they cant even move. They are fed a diet full of steroids and hormones, which fatten them in a short amount of time to the point that they are transformed into large, round, pink balls. The sphere shaped “pigs” are then placed on a conveyer belt, smashed into a cube, loaded on a truck and then shipped out to our local grocery stores.

The scene turns dark as the farmer walks across his farm contemplating his new methods of food production. He thinks about the poison and drugs that he is feeding his animals and the negative effect they are having on them and the land and suddenly realizes the error of his ways. The scene brightens back up and we watch as the farmer tears down the walls of the confined gestation cages and frees his farm animals from such inhumane treatment. The short film ends just as it began, with happy animals roaming free on the range and a sign post that reads “Cultivate a better world…Chipotle.com”.

This was supposed to be a commercial, I have seen millions of them over my lifetime and although there have been many that succeeded in moving me in some way, Chipotle’s ad definitely took the cake. I was touched, deeply moved but also very sad. I have seen movies like Food Inc. that teach us about the practices the corporate food industry employs to manufacture our food, but I have never heard of a restaurant taking a direct shot at them in a national ad that millions of viewers would see.

Immediately after the Grammys I got online and went to Chipotle’s website because I had to know more about this campaign. They advertise on the site that they live by the rule they call “Food with integrity” which states that they only buy meat that is raised in a cage free environment without the use of added hormones, antibiotics or steroids and that are treated as a living thing, not just dinner. They also only purchase dairy products coming from cows that have not been treated with rBGH, a genetically engineered growth hormone injected into the cows to increase milk production. Although rBGH is known to increase the risk of cancer it is still legally used in milk production the United States; Europe and Canada have both banned the sale of rBGH due to the potential health risks.

After visiting Chipotle the night after the ad premiered I can attest to the fact that they absolutely backed up their claims of fresh, quality food. I went to the restaurant expecting fast food service and I was pleasantly surprised with a filling and delicious dinner in a pleasant atmosphere sans the guilt of knowing my food was tortured it’s entire life before it was put on my plate. I realized that the reason Chipotle’s commercial moved me so much is because they appealed to the audience on an extremely emotional and moral level as opposed to a logical one. This approach was much more successful than it would have been if it had appealed to say, the money conscious consumer making purchases based on a good deal. We are in trying economic times and nearly every company is using the “save money with us” approach, so that would’ve lessened the emotional impact of the commercial substantially.

Seeing this commercial solidified my belief that we all make decisions based on emotion first and only then does logic come into play and back up that decision.As a design student I believe that this is an extremely important concept to grasp because just making things look pretty is not enough anymore. Understanding the way people make decisions will help us become better designers. By understanding and catering to the emotional needs of our client’s target audience we can provide them with better service, meaning better sales for our clients and ultimately repeat business for ourselves. Maybe I’m wrong, but to me that sounds like a win‐win-win situation!

Fame and substance abuse: The Celebrity Epidemic

Whitney Houston

With the death of super star R and B diva, Whitney Houston fresh on my mind, I can’t help but feel troubled at the alarming rate famous people are dying due to drug and alcohol overdose.  Although the toxicology results are about eight weeks away and we won’t have a definitive cause of death until then, there were still several empty prescription pill bottles found in Whitney’s Beverly Hills hotel room the night she died. Whitney was forty-eight years old.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

In July 2011, singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment. The official cause of death was later found to be alcohol poisoning.  Amy entered hospitals and rehab clinics frequently and had just been released from treatment two months before her passing. Obviously the methods used in treating her failed because she substituted her drug addiction for alcohol abuse. Amy was twenty- seven years old.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

The biggest pop star in history, Michael Jackson died in June 2009 from an accidental drug overdose from a lethal combination of Propofol, Lorazepam, and Midazolam. Michael’s death was officially ruled a homicide and his personal physician Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years, the maximum for involuntary manslaughter.  Michael Jackson was fifty years old.

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith

Another tragic death due to a prescription medicine overdose was that of model and actress Anna Nicole Smith. On February eighth 2007 Anna was found unresponsive in her Seminole Hard Rock Hotel room in Hollywood Florida and was later found to have had eleven different drugs in her system including Klonopin, Ativan, Serax and Valium.  Anna’s death came only five months after her son Daniel’s accidental drug overdose in September 2006. Daniel died from a combination of methadone, Zoloft and Lexapro. Anna was forty and Daniel was twenty years old.

These are just a few of the more recent celebrity deaths associated with drug and alcohol overdose but unfortunately this is a problem seen very frequently in the celebrity community.  We as a society need to be more proactive in educating people about the dangers of substance abuse, especially those with celebrity status because they have the most influence on the world. Being famous should not just be about wealth and fame, it should also be used a tool to spread the word about an epidemic plaguing the young people in the world.  Celebrities create trends and we follow them. As a famous face, why not convince the world that the coolest, hippest and healthiest thing to do is to be drug free?

Graphic design and drawing ability….Do they go hand in hand?

Hand drawn hand

When i first made the decision to go school to study graphic design I had one major fear. Not if I was going to land a job or be able to pay off my student loans. No, my fear was if I would be able to become a successful graphic designer knowing that i had limited drawing ability. Before I started the enrollment process I researched that question exactly. The simple answer was no. I didn’t have to be a fine artist to succeed in this industry. However, I did realize that having a high degree of illustration capability does give you an edge as far as potential employers go, as well as a broadened sense of creativity that will always be welcome and encouraged in design. Naturally I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders because graphic design is something I have been interested in pursuing since I could remember.

The only thing left to do now was to go ahead and enroll into my design program. In the nine months that I have been attending school, I’ve seldom felt that my limited drawing ability prevented me from doing well on design projects. I do feel that I have to take a bit more time in the brainstorming phase to get my creative juices flowing, but once I open my documents in Photoshop I pretty much have an idea of where I want to go with any particular project. I have considered the benefits of taking a drawing course in addition to my design program and have decided that I will go for it as soon as time allows. Although I don’t find it necessary for what I’m trying to accomplish, I believe it will teach me design from a different angle. I also believe that if I can learn how to solve design problems with a pencil first it will make it much easier when I sit down to execute a design. I’ve also read that drawing designs first and then replicating them digitally tends to look more natural as opposed to creating a design digitally from the ground up.

Finding out the more complicated answer to my question was exactly what I needed. No, you don’t have to be great at drawing to succeed in this industry, however, by learning to draw you will be more capable of becoming a great designer that stands out from the huge crowd. During some of my research, I found that a large number of graphic designers feel that you should learn to draw if you don’t already know. This article caught my attention when it stated “Photoshop is not a pencil.” The author of the article, Douglas Bonneville featured on BonFX.com,  gives his opinion about this subject:

A.The true freedom digital tools offer is freedom from physical media that can wear out, show signs of effort, and that ungraciously reveal our struggle with them.

B.The false freedom digital tools offer is that while providing “unlimited undo’s” from our mistakes, they remove the sense of urgency from our mistakes that we most learn fundamental skills from! They can act as opiates on our design-fail sensors.

So there we have it. Taking a drawing class can greatly improve your skills as a designer as well as increase your demand in the design industry. But what if it is not in your budget to pay for a drawing course right now? Well, I have found a few websites that offer free drawing courses online. The first one I found was offered by a woman named Carol Rosinski. Her website www.toadhollowstudio.com offers free beginner, intermediate and advanced classes and video instruction.

Drawspace.com is another site that offers different levels of drawing instruction. They provide over 200 free downloadable lessons completely free.

Drawingcoach.com skips past the heavy theory and get students started drawing caricatures, tattoos, portraits and cartoons immediately. Their site features step by step instruction to guide you through each lesson.

Drawing101.com provides students with eight quick lessons essentials such as line, depth, shadow, sketchbook, color and more.

Those are only a few of the courses i found available online. There are sure to be many more free courses available if you search around the net enough. At the end of the day the decision is yours whether you decide to take drawing classes or not. I can’t think of any cons about taking your drawing ability to the next level, but if time or even money doesn’t allow, I wouldn’t get discouraged if you can not take up a drawing class. I don’t believe my lack of drawing ability will break me as a designer, however, if I can take a free class or two to pump up my drawing skills then why not? I don’t have anything to lose.

Disturbing and awesome…

 These are the only words I have to describe artist Danielle Tunstall’s work.

I first came across Danielle on Facebook through a mutual “friend” and was instantly shocked and intrigued by her work. My first thought was, “why would anyone want to make these kinds of images?” Pictures of bloodied faces and bodies, some wearing weird looking gas masks and scary zombie-like children made up the bulk of the work that was featured.  Although my first impression was a disturbing one, I slowly began to fall in love with this style.

I wasn’t sure why, but something in these images was beautiful. They captivated me. I began to see that art isn’t solely about the things society considers beautiful; but also about what we consider ugly. Without one, how could we appreciate the other?  What is it that makes something ugly? I asked myself this as I browsed through Danielle’s portfolio and in the entirety of about 6 albums I couldn’t find a photo that I didn’t like something about. She has a way of turning gruesome in gorgeous. In even the most shocking photos she finds a way to bring the beauty out of it.

I guess it doesn’t hurt that she is a photographer as well as a graphic designer. The fact that she is very talented at capturing the images she is working with gives her that much more creative freedom when it comes time to manipulating the photos. Learning this about her inspired me to want to get even more involved in the stages of my design work that come before editing and to grab a camera and start snapping away.

New to blogging

This is the first time I have created a blog so I am not sure of all the ins and outs just yet. Hopefully I will improve as time goes on. I will be uploading some side projects that I have been working on as a measure of my progress in my Design class.