In late 1989, when the computer was first becoming a useful tool for the graphic design industry, our small Boise firm was tentatively dipping our toe into the digital world. Our first little Macs, a Classic and then an SE30, were used as typesetting machines. We would typeset the headlines and body copy, then print them out and use SprayMount or the waxer to glue them on the paste-ups (there’s a word you may not have heard for years, if ever). Final art was an illustration board with type galleys and stats pasted on it, amberlith overlays, and a sheet of tracing paper with call-outs and instructions for the color separator to follow for their pre-press work.
On the phone with the color separator one day I asked him how many of the design firms he worked with across the country were submitting digital files vs. the age-old way we were doing it. I was, of course, looking for confirmation that we weren’t lagging behind the industry in any way. To my dismay he informed me that a good 80% of the firms he worked with were submitting their work digitally.
This was unacceptable! No way was I going to let this continue. I circled all the designers around me and announced that we were going to get with program, now! And so we did. Not immediately of course because there was equipment to purchase and software to learn and techniques to master. It took months to get up to speed, but we got there.
Tens of thousands of dollars and several years later I told my story to the color separator, thanking him for giving me the incentive I needed to up our game. He laughed and said “I was kidding! Only a handful of agencies at the time were willing to make that commitment – you were way ahead of the pack.”
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