Today is my birthday and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. I think the nostalgia stems from the fact that a long time ago on this day, (no I am not going to tell you how long ago) I started a new job in the design department of a local shop. My job was like many in that era. I did paste-up and cut color separations with a xacto knife and rubylith. This was long before computer graphics and the easy of Command-Z.
As I was sitting here working away on my Mac, building some complex animated title sequences in After Effects it got me to thinking about how much easier things have really gotten since the introduction of computer graphics. Seriously, there are people who will never know the arduous task of rebuilding an entire page, by tearing off all the type that was laid out by hand using gangs of copy and hot wax or rubber cement, or the joy of re-stripping an entire page because the client changed a series of price points 4 hours before press time.
Believe me I am not complaining, and this is not a post about how I walked up hill to work in the snow so I could slave over a hot light table and drawing board all day. I just got to thinking about what it used to be like back in the day, and how I wouldn’t go back to that if I had to. I remember having a conversation with another designer a few years later, and they kept saying that there would be no way you could ever produce anything on the computer that would look better than what was done by hand, especially illustration, and painting. I wish I could talk to them now to see if they even remember our conversation, and if they ever changed their tune. The whole time the two of us were yapping about this we were making Chromalin proofs for a presentation the next day. God I still can’t believe I worked with this stuff. Chromalin involved all sorts of nasty toxic chemicals, and solvents, and they were just a pain in the ass. You had to mix your color to match the PMS chips by hand, and hope that you didn’t screw up when peeling the backer off. If you did it was back to square one.
I still believe in the idea that you should have some solid drawing and sketching skills, if you are going to be a designer. It’s just the way I was trained and the background I come from. Know how to set type and all the fundamentals that go with it. Know about color theory, visual layout, gestalt, balance, use of white space, all of it. OK now I’m getting preachy. Enough of this. It’s my birthday and I am going to go eat some cake while I draw in Photoshop on my new iMac and think about how I never have to smell rubber cement or Bestine ever again.