Dym  |  california textiles


A bad word

Taking a moment. I want to share how much the word “brand” saddens me, grosses me out. Yes, strong words! I understand, of course, what we are trying to say when we talk about the brands we love (or not) and why we're loyal to one brand over another. A brand means more to us than a mere mark, a logo, a name. And, yet...

And, yet, the actual meaning of brand refuses to leave my mind (and, imaginatively, my body). When I hear "brand," I can't stop knowing that we use a brand to burn flesh, that people use branding to mark ownership. Or, equally heart-rending, branding has been used to (permanently) mark someone as an outcast, as less-than-human.

Right now, in this place, when branding is (officially) used only on cattle and chattel animals, I wonder what the difference is, I wonder how we can really separate ourselves from a time when some humans marked others as owned? Slavery continues in the present day, though in the U.S. and other developed countries, its marketplaces are hidden, enslaved people aren't marked. The word brand pretends innocence. (A quick aside: those who self-inflict branding for their own purposes, pleasurable or otherwise, that's another thing entirely. That's not what I'm talking about.)

Of course, I publicly own my work. I can and do pay my staff reasonably, for this time and place. I'd like to do this without scarring the work with a word whose real meaning stays with me. I value the work of my hands, mind, heart. I treasure the creative collaborations that keep happening—with the Dym team of printers, my clients, with friends, and with other designers. I delight in our designs, ideas, research, and in the creativity itself.

What I want is for my authorship (of my creativity, my creative production) to wrap around what we create like beautiful gift wrap. And, sometimes, to be graced by a signature or artist's mark. This comes with the sense that what we make becomes yours for as long as you like. In the realm of gifts, may it move into the future (and as yet unknown hands) with sweetness.

Black Friday, 2017

Meredith Bagerski