Back in the day, 1977 to 1980, all work was done on “the board”. Meaning, everything was done by hand, no desktop computers. This was truly a profession for artist, it took training and practice.
Here is a great video of graphic design back in the day:
Back in the day, 1977 to 1980, all work was done on “the board”. Meaning, everything was done by hand, no desktop computers. This was truly a profession for artists, it took training and practice. All work was done with straight edges, triangles, t-squares, compass, and French curves. All linework was done with a ruling pen when I started and then rapidiograph pens replaced the ruling pen when I had mastered the skill. Scott wanted me to learn all of the art, which would make me more precise.
There was very little clip art, so almost all illustrations were done by hand. Scott was a terrific illustrator as shown in several of the pieces that I have posted. Art could be manipulated in size by using a nuArc camera. The majority of the camera was on one side of a wall: the bellows, the lens, the copy board, the lights and the rails, and the other half was in the darkroom; the control wheels for focusing, the film holder, the focusing plate and the vacuum pump. I spent many hours in the darkroom reducing or enlarging images, developing the film, and washing prints that would be used in paste-ups.
Type was either letterpress, which came on sheets in specific type fonts and size or was printed in galleys by out-of-house typesetters. Any change in a headline or body copy required anywhere from minutes to a day to change. My first project was to take a galley of type and cut each line and paste onto a paste-up board because the copy had been specked incorrectly. Type specking required calling out font, font size, leading, column width, and also kerning where needed. No old maids or orphans were allowed. You will have to google those terms. In fact, I have a book dedicated just to typesetting.
I worked on a door from a lumberyard set on sawhorses so that I would have enough room for my paste-up boards, tools, cutting area, and supplies. I created a trough to hold pens, pencils, and cutting tools. There was an area for using rubber cement because it was too hot in El Paso to use wax. I spilled a whole bottle of rubber cement on the carpet one day, what a mess to clean up.
One day an assistant came in to get something out of the trough on my board and accidentally turned an Exacto knife so that the blade was pointed out. I reached up to grab something and jammed the knife blade all the way into the underside of my forearm, over 1”. When I pulled it out, it didn’t bleed so I squeezed the area, and fat from my arm oozed out. Should have had stitches but I was up against a deadline so a bandage did the trick. Another time, someone bumped my board and my Exacto knife rolled from the top of the board, which was at an angle for working, it hit the trough, popped up into the air, and then landed, point first, stabbing me in the calf of my right leg which I just happened to have bent back so I could lean forward. I had to pull that one out also and bandage the wound. Needless to say, those weren’t the only accidents with an Exacto or cutting tool.
Concept pieces were all done by hand using markers, colored pencils, acrylic paint, and airbrush. I got pretty good at airbrushing, being self-taught. No YouTube videos back then. Those concepts were presented to clients and then production pieces were produced.
Most of our work was done in one or 2 colors because 4 color work was very expensive. I did get the chance to do an 8-color piece which was quite complicated with overlays, rubilith and registration marks. The printer said it was one of the most accurate and precise pieces he had ever received. We prided ourselves on the quality of work we did at Paragon / G+J.
Every Monday morning, we would have a production meeting, and projects were assigned and scheduled. That schedule also included time to get type, do art and produce the finished work. A typical 5-day work week would have me doing 5 to 8 projects per day. We happened to have a car dealership, some retail shops, and a realtor as clients that had weekly ads that had to go out each Friday afternoon. Those were crazy deadlines. I usually worked 7 to noon, took a 2-hour lunch which allowed me a nap, then worked 2 to 7, I put in 50-hour weeks. Typically, Friday after 5 we would have a company get together to celebrate the week's work. It was a pretty close-knit family.
My job responsibilities:
Artwork – illustrations, air-brushing
Paper and ink specs
Working with printers
Working with photographers on photo projects
Presentations with clients