controversy over a carrot

Controversy over a carrot

by Janice Nigro

If only I had made the surfboard a strawberry…my last thoughts as I was falling asleep one night recently. It was not one of those fleeting bizarre thoughts you have just moments before you do fall asleep. It was provoked by another one of my innocent forays into something I had never done before.

Nothing fits career-wise lately so I have been trying different types of work. The main bit has been editing/writing of scientific articles for non-native English speaking scientists. Because it is a mobile job-I just need a computer and the Internet-I can work on articles whenever and wherever I want (yes, it can be while at the beach).

I have deadlines, but since I can arrange my days, I have been participating in a local farmers market one day a week as a so-called photographer and original textile designer. Mostly to meet people. But that’s where another unusual opportunity to do some work came up.

It all started because I wrote a piece about the market. My intention was to publish in the local papers in order to establish myself as an occasional writer of events in the South Bay. I had impressed them with the story, and they then asked me to help with some social media work for the market.

The market was changing hands. Since there was no logo/brand for the market as it was or for what it was going to be, I thought I would try to come up with some ideas. For me, it was obvious what the elements should be: sun, beach, ocean, and probably a surfboard. Surfing was invented somewhere else in the Pacific, but there is a history of making boards right here and major contributions to the boards as “we” know them today.

Unfortunately I discovered that a mixture of these elements had already been implemented in the logo for the market up the street. Although I came up with my own ideas (including a more humorous take on the intersection of beach life and farmers markets), I also presented a mock-up that was a parody of the image from the other market. This artist cleverly positioned a carrot next to a man as if it was a surfboard. But I thought the image should have a woman because I see them out there every morning just like the guys. I simply updated this image, by putting a woman next to the carrot along with my own version of the sea, sky, and beach.

The administrators of my market liked the cheeky take, and I worked hard on it to incorporate each person’s requests. The other market in the end carefully made the argument that the carrot had been its symbol for over 9 years, and they did not want any confusion for respective customers.

It was too late to put her on a bike with a celery stick in her surfboard carrier (or to use any of my alternates) because in the mean time some professionals got involved.

It’s as if I left the lab and landed in a bug’s bunny cartoon.

My inspiration for at least the backdrop for my ideas/drawings came from the probably thousands of photos I have taken of the sunsets at the beach on a nearly daily basis. A naïve approach perhaps because I bound out there each day with excitement to see how the sun appears-an example of daily reinvention over billions of years.

That fruit and vegetables are used as all kinds of inanimate objects in logos for farmers markets is not new. Heads of lettuce are used as volleyballs. Strawberries are used as sailing ships, and the Hollywood market, as you might expect, is the Hollywood sign spelled out in…fruit and vegetables.

The issue that emerges with the professionals is that the remaining images are first of all not professionally done. And second of all perhaps the humor in them reflects on the professional image of the market. My digital drawing is not the genius of any famous cartoonist, but plenty of their images are proudly used by events in big cities for promotion. Nothing could be goofier looking than “bummer of a birthmark” by Gary Larson, but it’s clever.

After all the market is not a big corporate account which is why I thought I might try in the first place.

While I cannot draw, the basic elements of my figure tell you what the image represents-a farmers market in a beach community (some influence from scuba diving). And it was drawn with a lot of admiration for the nature  that we are surrounded by in this urban environment. It is for sure less polished than an image put together by a team of professionals, but that is the issue with using a team of professionals-sometimes you get something that looks like it should rather than like it could.

It reminds me of the way many of us do science today. It used to be that profound breakthroughs in our understanding of the laws of nature were discovered based on simple observations and questions. Like an apple falling on your head. Today we are so focused on using the latest bit of novel technology that we forget to ask what is the simple question we want to answer.

How this Janice adventure will end is not exactly clear yet…but this kind of work was fun.

©2015 Janice Marie Nigro/


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