New documentary on the history of graphic design and technology

The long-awaited documentary Graphic Means just premiered at the ByDesign film festival, describing a half-century of world-changing analog-to-digital shifts in how graphic designers worked. Here's the trailer.

Via the film's site:

Helmed by Professor Briar Levit, the project emerged from her fascination with vintage design guides:

I have amassed a vast collection of design production manuals (1960s, 70s, and 80s) from the Goodwill over the years. As the stack grew, it became clear I was naturally drawn to this period of design, and the skills and processes that went along with it. I missed these production methods by about 12 years (I started studying design in 1996), and worked almost exclusively with a computer during my education and after.

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.

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 hope you join me along the way!

More details on how the project started:

Graphic Means (via It's Nice That)

Notable Replies

  1. Sent this onto my dear Wife, 30 year Graphic Artist for the Gov.

  2. That looks like a waxer over her right shoulder. I spent a few years working in graphic production before and during the transition to Mac publishing -- proportion wheels, line gauges (AKA pica poles), rule tape, boards, rubylith, acetate, light tables, x-acto knives. Looking forward to seeing this!

  3. my training spanned both the old and the new, so i must be a bit older than her. my first year or so i learned old-school paste-up with rubylith, x-actos, swipe files, letraset, and hot waxers. then we came back the next year and our department had a new lab filled with the original macintosh and photoshop and pagemaker. i don't miss cutting ruby, but i still use my x-acto all the damn time.

  4. My students always seem impressed when I demonstrate pre-digital techniques for making comps and whatnot. Even now there's an awful lot you can't do with a computer and digital printer alone.

  5. Rapidograph pens
    The old Letraset machines that used photosensitive paper and a giant camera to produce type. You changed out the wheels inside to make different typefaces. The paper spooled out into a lightproof canister, then you ran it through a chemical bath without exposing it to light and let it dry. Waxers let you paste the type into place.
    Giant cameras that created reverses for printing plates.
    Non-photo-repro blue pencils, and preprinted templates also in blue.
    Light tables, triangles and T-squares.

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