Creative Tablet’s Good Old Days of Design – Part 1

Creative Tablet’s Good Old Days of Design – Part 1

Ahhh…the good old days of design. Have you ever wondered how advertising/design was created in the days past? If you are a certain age you already know, but if you are younger this may interest and even get you thinking differently about how you create advertising and graphic design work. I am sure that once you saw the image above of the typesetter you knew this was a long time ago (around the 60-70’s).

The age of computers certainly change how graphic design work was done. Before computers it was all done by hand. Yes…by hand, even the type.

I remember doing some headlines by hand if they were fancy, because the typesetter had limited font varieties.

The process is the same today, but the difference is in how it was executed. When a project was started it was done with a “comp” (a simple sketch) that the designer would work to give the product/service the best exposure. The designer would do what designers do today, but now the difference begins…

The designer would get the comp approved and the writer would get the copy approved after consulting with the designer to be sure it would fit into the specified layout. If OK it would go to the typesetter and once back would have to be proofread again (the typestter also proofread the copy but would miss sometings). Any changes would go back to the typesetter unless they were minor and could be cut and pasted.

Copy proofingProofreading markings. Each mark have a specific meaning.
proofreading marksHere is an example of the marks used in proofreading

The proofread copy would be marked with a special system to let the typesetter know what to do. It sounds crazy, but was pretty easy at the time. Of course, waiting for the type could be a problem if you were on a tight deadline, because you were at the mercy of the typesetters schedule.

typesstterThe typesetter at work on a typesetting machine.

While the type was out you would be working on the illustration or any other graphics, photos or images. Similar to what you would do today. But that is where the similarities end.

As the graphic items arrive at the studio you would place them in a file folder and start putting the actual design together.

Your”pasteboard” would be an actual illustration board. You would mark the layout dimensions with a blue pencil, the bleeds with red and the crop marks using a black Rapidograph ink pen (a type of Sharpy with an ink cartridge). Hopefully the tip wasn’t clogged, because it took time to unclog it and was a pain in the butt to do. You had to take the pen apart and insert a wire or paper clip into the tips. then put it back together and hope that worked.

Rapidograph PenRapidograph pens with different tips sizes.

Of course, you might make a mistake , but you could cover it with white tape and re-do. I made mistakes at times and loved that white tape, because it was a time and job saver.

In the next post I will discuss the cut-n-paste method which is not to different then using it today in Word or other programs, except it was actually cutting and pasting with a scissor and razor knife. Watch the fingers!

Part 2 coming soon.

The Creative Tablet


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