New film explores the difficulties designers faced before computers

Date
9 March 2015
Reading Time
2 minute read

Ever stopped to think as you adjust text, step backwards and copy and paste at the speed of light on InDesign that once upon a time you would be doing all of that with GLUE and PAPER? It’s obvious, but when you really think about it, your respect for the graphic designers of yore increases tenfold. Briar Levit, an assistant professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University, decided to bring this to light via a film in which designers who never used computers are interviewed about the difficulties they had. It wasn’t all doom and gloom of course – you could easily argue that the hand-designed work they produced back then was much more considered than it tends to be now.

“I had some vague knowledge about production before the Mac, but it was only based on brief references my teachers made, or the little-used tools that remained in various studios I worked in,” Briar says. “It occurred to me that if I knew so little, my graphic design students know even less! So with this, I set out to document the tools, processes and people of this brief moment in the design world.”

“I wanted to make Graphic Means in order to share the sense of pride that comes along with understanding your discipline’s history and development. It’s not a prerequisite to being a designer, but it certainly enriches your sense of belonging and respect for what you’re doing, and who came before you. I also wanted to try and understand what has changed and what has stayed the same in the culture of the studio workplace as a result of technological changes in methods. Many more hands used to touch a project in the production process, from designer, to typesetter, to photographer, to production designer. What were those relationships like? What did we lose when we gained the ability to pull all these elements together with just one person? What did we gain?”

This film interviews Pat Castaldo, Cece Cutsforth and Joe Ecerg and is cut with some very lovely old design clips. A fascinating and eye-opening watch that I can’t recommend enough. No wonder it’s a Kickstarter Staff Pick! You can visit the Kickstarter page here

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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Briar Levit: Graphic Means

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About the Author

Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and worked across online, print and events, and was latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.

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