Monday, August 8, 2016

Graphics Before Computers


A documentary called "Graphic Means" is in the works for release this fall about how graphic design technology changed throughout the 20th century. (Link to Vimeo video) Most people realize that desktop publishing and the computer revolutionized everything, but it was changing incrementally in the decades leading up to the 1990s.
"For decades before that, it was the hands of industrious workers, and various ingenious machines and tools that brought type and image together on meticulously prepared paste-up boards, before they were sent to the printer."

7 comments:

Obsidian Flower said...

Thanks for this is very interesting! I was an art Director assistant in 1986 my first job and I learn the trade by working on the draft board. Later I used a Mac with Illustrator 1.1 and I felt like a revolutionary woman at the time back in Mexico City. In those times we were really good artist before being proficient in computer programs to make illustration. It was hard to go from the draft board to a computer program.

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

Cool video, I'd love to see the finished video.

Chris Pearson said...

Fascinating and takes me back to before letraset. As an engineering apprentice 1960s, I recall drawing on linen and the coming of the Rapidograph pen following the Pelikan Graphos ruling pen that were filled with a dropper and had a selection of detachable nibs from 0.12 to 0.7 mm. I retired and gave my Grandson my Autocad software! Those 10 year increment have seen big changes and I am sure ythere is more to coming. I want a 3D printer :-)

Steve said...

I worked on our award-winning high school newspaper in 1966-1967. Writing the stories was often the fastest, easiest part of the process. Physically assembling the paper and "putting it to bed" was more time-consuming and labor-intensive. It was my introduction to the concept of "pulling an all-nighter," an experience usually introduced in college. We hand-justified columns, made all marks with photo blue pencils, ran copy through a waxing machine (while still using a lot of rubber cement), and sized half-tones and headlines using a proportional wheel. As this trailer mentions, the amount of math needed -- especially fractions and percentages -- was significant. It was ironic that journalism students were probably doing more real-world, applied mathematics and measurement than any other students in the building with the possible exception of the auto mechanics class.

Paul Sullivan said...

The golden era of American print design was prior to the age of technology. From the late 50s through the 70s, the finest in advertising and editorial design flourished. Print advertising budgets were still large and the talent was there producing powerful work.

In the late 50s and early 60s in was common for ad headlines to be custom designed and hand lettered by masters like Mortimer Leech and Freeman Craw. It was difficult for designers and art directors to keep up with the continuous innovations in type design. Designers and art directors like Bill Golden, Otto Storch and Saul Bass were leading the way to a new level of graphics.

I worked as a illustrator and art director for 46 years. The last 10 of those years I worked on a Mac with everything from Photoshop to Quark. The thing about graphics that changed was that the big budgets were no longer there. It was faster, it was easier and a lot of the designers knew nothing about design.

Susan Krzywicki said...

I sold some of those early typesetting machines for IBM in the mid-70s in Greenwich Village and downtown Manhattan! They were exciting times.

Annie C Curtis said...

Really looking forward to seeing this - I remember working up whole pages of finds drawings in A2 or A1 which would be printed at A4 - I preferred to draw the whole thing off in one rather than cutting and mounting and then letrasetting; somehow it seemed easier to get the balance of the page that way to me. My mother worked as a draughtswoman, and would bring home lettering stencils and rapidographs sometimes for us when we were kids.