Design Before Digital

I’d love to spend a day picking the brains of all the elders in the design industry, artists who began their careers setting type by hand, having quotas for characters rendered per minute, going home after a long day with rubber cement all over their hands. To think that up until 30 years ago there was no eye-strained impulse to “step away from the computer” after a day of work.

It’s almost shame-inducing to consider how much incredibly detailed, precise production work was done by hand. There was no instantaneous “undo” of a mistake. There was no way to try 50 different colors in a minute. No way to just “take a look on screen” and swap out photos on the fly. No to-the-pica measurements made just by typing in the numbers. Wow, it is amazing when you see footage of the actual sheer craft of it all.

So I’m very excited for the fall premiere of Graphic Means, a documentary about the transformation of the design industry from the 1950s to the 1990s. Watch the trailer:

Technology revolutionized the industry immeasurably right along with everything else it has touched but it has also sped the process up so much. What have we lost when we lost all of that careful editing, all of that time spent waiting for analog processes to complete?

The skill specialization?

Could I even handle a deadline looming and 30 handset typos to correct?