This morning I really, really have to design a newspaper ad. It’s one of the most depressing parts of my job. Everyone has an opinion on what they like in the ad. Unfortunately these opinions are useless. One camp is full of terrible suggestions like “hey, why not use the badly composed, low res pictures people’s kids the pastor’s wife takes and run those pictures without parent consent?” and “you know what I think looks good? comic sans!”

The other camp doesn’t have any suggestions to speak of: they just hate anything. If I ever attempt to address their criticism by asking specifically what they’d like to see or what they dislike, they tell me they do not know.    But they’re extremely happy to tell me each and every week that the ad doesn’t seem to be working, that it’s probably my fault somehow.  It makes me a little homicidal.  Exactly what do people hope a quarter page ad in a paper with a 6000 person circulation will accomplish?  World peace?

Literally the only person who’s ever said she liked an ad our church has run in the newspaper is my mother.

The largest problem with the ad design is my utter lack of conviction that anyone ought to come to this church above any other church in town and my utter discomfort with comodifying church.  This is my best idea:

Come to Contemporary Leaning Mainline Protestant Church!
We present a less well-executed version of what happens at

Extremely Popular Local Baptist Church,

but we do it without being Baptists!
because Baptists are laaaame.

So are we, but, you know, not in the same way.

There are some obvious problems with this ad design, not least of which is its resemblance to teenage poetry.  Too bad I don’t know how to change wordpress’s fonts:  I would’ve used Papyrus.  Then it would’ve been extremely spiritual and poetical.

Are you wondering why I design the ad?  The newspaper used to do it, but their work was aggressively bad.  Their graphic designer is mostly qualified to keep adspace and articles in tidy rows.  She does do an admirable job of that–and nothing else.  I, despite having no graphic design training and no software more advanced than Word, manage to do better.  There was a brief flurry of “gee, the ad looks better lately–but is still unsatisfactory in some way” when I took over the task.

You know what?  I acknowledge that the ads I design are mediocre.  I have read up on ad design, but I don’t really have a knack.  My visual/spatial intelligence is entirely focused on clothes.

The ad sales lady at the newspaper always asks me what event we want to promote when she calls to nag me about getting an ad in by deadline.  A good 70% of the time, there is no event to promote.  This news always fills me with ennui.  When this church was formed, not so very long ago, the plan was to be super-active in the community.  Mostly we’re just super good at tabling people’s ideas until they can be discussed in endless committee meetings and at burning out volunteers in charge of programs and then never replacing them.

Okay.  I’m going to stop bitching and get to work on the dang ad.  But first, grape juice!