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Made in Japan

January 2015

– “Oh, wow, Louise! Love it! Great concept; great design! 😍 But er… where does this image come from? It certainly doesn’t look like stock and that’s definitely not something we’ve shot. In fact, it looks somewhat familiar…”

– “Er… yes, it’s a bit of a long shot… Actually, I wasn’t gonna show you this option…”

As a creative director, this is not the sort of situation you relish. The concept and design were brilliant… but only if we could use that exact image. It had a magic and strength in it that just couldn’t be replicated. Besides, we are certainly not in the business of plagiarism.

– “So, where does it come from?”

– “It’s from super famous Japanese graphic designer Koichi Sato… a lot of his work’s actually in the MoMA in New-York and tons of museums around the world. Super famous… sorry 😬…”

OK: but this was just too good and too relevant to give-up on so soon. So, first of all, let’s see if the client likes it. Good news: they didn’t. But bad news: they LOVED it! There was only one thing left to do: get a hold of Mr. Koichi in Japan; explain; ask; hope for the best and brace for disappointment 🤞🏻🤞🏻.

Not only was the response immediate but it just blew our minds: the kindest words, loved the design and use of his artwork, more than happy to grant us and our client permission to use it and even attached the high-resolution digital file straight away with his very first reply… Wow: what a gentleman!

Of course, our client – Zamil Industrial – always irreproachably ethical, insisted on paying Mr. Koichi some royalties, even though he’d not asked for some per se. Arrangements were made accordingly and everyone was delighted.

Once printed, we sent Mr. Koichi a copy of ZI’s annual report. He replied by regular mail with a wonderful hand-written letter and little personalized gift he’d made 💌. When so many things in the world seem to be going pear-shaped – working with the likes of Zamil Industrial and Mr. Kochi Sato surely rekindled our faith that there still is hope for kindness, respect and integrity 🙏. (And btw: great, great job on all counts, Louise! Many thanks).



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