When I first began in this crazy business, we did not have computers. You might call me a dinosaur if you are under the age of twenty. My first graphics job during college was working for a map company. With painstaking care, I would ink the lines for the roads, cut them out, seal them, and apply them carefully to a clear acetate layer with melted wax. Typesetters typed out words on giant linotype machines and printed out galleys on photo-sensitive paper. Rows of underpaid graphic artists hunched over drafting tables cut the yard-long galleys apart with Xacto knives and used a light table to line them up. Every word, every photo, and every illustration was placed on a single layer by hand.

How we did it back in the old days

An internal hard drive. The first one I ever used had 1 mg of storage. It was the size of a TV (with the picture tube) and had to be kept in a refrigerated room.

Rubber Cement was an industry staple. One year for Christmas my boss bought us rubber cement holsters to wear in the darkroom.

X-acto knives were customized to each artist. My tool of choice had a double-edged blade and a handle swathed in black electrical tape.

This is a drum scanner. Only the highest tech print companies had them. To duplicate an image, the scanner operator, working in a light safe room, would secure the image to a drum using clear film. The drum spun at high speed capturing the image and converting it into tiny halftone dots. One scan might cost $75.00-$100.00

This is a wax roller. My job as an intern was to keep the wax pots full and free of flies. The wax would heat up and then roll out in uniform strips to adhere type galleys to acetate overlays.

Cutting Rubylith precisely was listed on my first job description. If you wanted to reverse a letter out of a color block, you traced it and then cut it out by hand. This had to be done for every graphic element in every color on different layers. I ended up going into print sales because I did not have the patience and precision required to do this painstaking work.

Every image element was carefully lined up using red and blue pens depending on what needed to be visible or hidden from the cameras.

This looks like all the printing pre-press rooms I ever worked in. A finished galley with all type and graphics in place, shown ready to be taken to the dark room to be color separated by a giant camera. Yes, a newspaper man would do this every day and no, the haircut and pants are not from a retro costume party.

Technology has revolutionized the graphics industry, but there is one thing it has not changed–good design. Whether you are using Rubylith or a MacBook Pro, graphic designs are only as good as the designer. I have studied design for more years than I care to count and never tire of creating something that looks good and fulfills its purpose. In an era where everyone has access to graphic design apps and tools are found literally at their fingertips, lack of resources is not a problem. It is more critical than ever that savvy business owners know the difference between easily accessed cookie-cutter graphics and strategically designed corporate identity materials that will fulfill brand strategies and help build business better. Finding a strategic marketing partner who understands the foundational fiber of your organization and knows how to get you from where you are to where you need to be is critical if marketing efforts are to be successful.