Tom Varisco is the only design genius I’ve ever known. He’s also a great lunch partner. I’m not just saying this because he designed my “big O” logo/identity way before Oprah had hers, or because we seem to share a slightly cynical Cajun sense of humor and the sarcasm that can often produce. I’m saying it because he put my song in his magazine.
OK, seriously, if you don’t believe he’s a design genius, click the link at his name and see for yourself. He does it all, print, web, branding, and all of it is gorgeous and effective and ridiculously creative and on-point. It’s like he came here from another planet…a planet named Success Q893 or something. He’s this successful without being on facebook or twitter, which I also admire, but I’ll admit it makes me feel like I maybe should have been in the Special Ed classes instead of graduating magna cum laude.
Tom’s quite the publisher, too. His book, Spoiled, was named one of the 50 Best Designed Books by the American Institute of Graphic Designers while being hailed locally as the most accurate summation of what it felt like to survive Hurricane Katrina.
He also publishes an amazing magazine twice a year, Desire, “a self-published, irregular design publication showcasing observations and opinions about New Orleans.”
I don’t recall the circumstances, exactly, but a few months ago I happened to email him the lyrics to a song I had just written for my wife, to be included on the next Creole String Beans (my band) CD and Tom decided to include it in the next issue of Desire. I’m virtually unknown as a “songwriter” so I was thrilled to have it included. The icing on the cake for me was that he also asked if I could illustrate the song with some of my photographs.
The actual title of the song is “Stand Out From The Crowd” but Tom liked the sound of “From The Crowd” better and, hey, who am I to complain? I’ll take the press any way I can get it. Tom suggested photographs of someone running, specifically, someone’s shadow running. God and His Weather Man must have approved because the day I set to shoot, out popped the sun. I chose one of my favorite models, Rebecca, who also happens to be a prolific and successful painter who would do the gig for payment in my famous stuffed mirlitons.
I had indicated to Tom that the song wasn’t really finished because it didn’t have a bridge, and he took that ball and ran with it, subtitling the piece “a song without a bridge”, which refers as much to a literal “bridge” that might take one from here, to there, or the lack of which might leave one stranded forever. That’s what it’s like working with a genius: they see and hear things in the commonplace that the rest of us usually overlook.
I’m proud of my little song and photos in Desire. Especially since the songs I wrote ten years ago are so bad they’re all stapled together in a notebook marked “not to be opened prior to my death”.