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Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Connections

Connections was a BBC TV series hosted by British science historian James Burke. I enjoyed many episodes of this tour de force, each show exploring a nearly mind numbing web of interconnections, driving history and innovation in what the program called an "Alternative View of Change."

The prospect of living in New York City for many is intimidating. Apart from the costs, many feel that a person can get easily lost and devoured by a large monster, leaving no traces. There are countermeasures, such as making connections, which make the difference between feeling like an outsider versus an insider or a bystander versus participant. Friends and family are key, like anywhere else, to a quality life. Connections with colleagues, coworkers, business owners, etc. also aid to make New York feel like home and not the cold, impersonal place that visitors or observers may perceive.

If one is fortunate to have relationships with accomplished individuals, they can provide the personal connections to people and things that make New York City the great place that it is for advancement and pursuit of dreams and goals difficult to achieve elsewhere.

Those obsessed with brushing against the powerful, hoping mere proximity will bestow fame and fortune, will find any real benefits to these pursuits to be illusory. But when kept in proper perspective and for those with skills who can truly make use of opportunities, connections to the talent pool of New York City can be instrumental in success. It's not just the cliched who you know, but what you do with the privileges granted by who you know.

In the 1980s I was introduced to an exceptional graphic artist, Michael Samuel, whom I hired to do freelance illustration. On one visit to his office, I asked to see his portfolio of work - I was impressed to see the History Channel logo, something he designed while at William Snyder Associates, who used to work with legendary CBS television designer Lou Dorfsman.
The concept was something heraldic, royal and classic but not specific. I have seen this logo and billboard for years on my many trips out of the city. Every time I pass by via the Willis Avenue Bridge, I think of Michael, his exacting work and how lucky I was to have someone with his expertise working for my small business. He says about this logo:

One of the highlights of my career is this logo for The History Channel. Developed with William Snyder Design, this remains one of my favorites. Computer memory was so limited that each facet had to be saved in a different file. A relatively unknown station in it's infancy, this cable channel has become famous for their interesting and diverse programming. The 60 foot, 3-D, glowing billboard at the end of the Triborough bridge in the Bronx doesn't hurt either.

Be not deceived however, because in this city, talent is often found in the least likely places - like a man's artwork displayed on the roof of a building in the Bronx and most often viewed from a bridge or behind a chain link fence. I wish you good connections :)


The Tame Lion said...

That's informative and inspirational!
Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the visit. :)

Leslie said...

Michael actually worked next door to William Snyder Associates, at an architectural firm. This logo was one of his freelance projects. He once drew a picture of my mother-in-law, an old world Italian mother, having never seen her-only from how I described our visits with her. Amazingly, Michael's intuition led him to draw the spitting image of this sweet dress, hairdo, attitude and all!