Graphic Design History

Graphic Means

The history of graphic design

Here is a very interesting trailer on the documentary Graphic Means. It's about what the profession of graphic design was like before the Apple computer. I remember doing paste up with a hot waxer and using the dark room and a stat machine to set type and make negatives of type. My first experience in graphic design was in the early 80s when I was studying jewelry design and gemology at a Jr. College. I was in the work study program and was placed in the print shop. We created all the school's printed materials as well as the school newspaper. I learned to set type on a Compugraphic Typesetting Machine. It looked very much like this:

Compugraphic Typesetting Machine

It wasn't wysiwyg, it was straight type on the screen, it kind of looked like a typewriter. You  would choose from about 1 of 10 fonts and sizes and type it in. You didn't really know what it looked like until you developed the print. The processor worked like photography, using the same chemicals. If it looked like what you wanted, normally it took a couple of trys before you liked what came out of the machine, then you could paste it up on a board at the light table. I loved the paste up process it was tedious, detailed work to make all of the pieces work together in the layout.

I can't wait for the documentary to come out to see all of these old tools again!

Producing Advertising Typography

TypographyHi, Here is the second version of a double truck ad. This one leaves no gutter allowance for the typography. I know the design is using the typography to create a texture in the background of the ad, but I think I still would have allowed for the gutter, because you can still read the words even though they are screened back. If the production artist had left 1/8 inch allowance on each side of the gutter (or even 1/32 inch) it would have made all of the words legible. What do you think? Does it matter since the type is being used as a texture? Do you think the designer wants us to read the type? or not?

A master designer passes on.

Doyald Young had a fifty year career as designer and teacher at Art Center College of Design. He was well known for his lettering and logotype designs. He was known as a good listener, patient teacher and self-proclaimed perfectionist. Doyald was a legend in the world of typography and he wrote the 3 books featured above. For more information on his life and his work, here's the NY Times article and visit his website.

There's also a free documentary on his life at

What the font?

Have you ever seen a font in print and wanted to use it, but couldn't figure out what it was. Well there are 2 places you can go for identification. You can upload a .jpg to or you can answer a series of questions at identifont. Even though asks for you to keep space between the characters, I've used their system for script fonts, it gets pretty close and gives you multiple fonts to compare.

Overall a good tool to use. Not like the old days of thumbing through thousands of pages of fonts to compare serifs and weights.

Coming Together

ComingTogetherSOTA, The Society of Typographic Aficianados, has announced the release of a new font called "Coming Together". This font is made up of over 400 glyphs, mostly ampersands to represent coming together to help one another. The font was designed by a group of type designers, graphic designers and illustrators from around the world. All proceeds from the sale of it will go to "Doctors without Borders" to benefit the people of Haiti. The font is being sold for $20US and can be purchased: Veer, Ascender Fonts, My Fonts, and The Font Shop.

Best Selling Fonts


According to and the following fonts were best sellers in 2009:

Arial •  ITC Franklin Gothic • Benton Sans • FF Meta • FF Din • Eurostile •  Gill Sans • DIN Next • Avenir • Futura • Frutiger • Helvetica • Interstate • Akzidenz Grotesk • Univers • Trade Gothic • the Sans • Neo • SoHo •  ITC Avant Garde Gothic • Rotis • Zapfino • Optima • Estillo • Helvetica Neue • Estilo Script • Waza™ • Olicana Smooth OT • Louisiana • Metroscript OT

There are many more classic fonts than I would have imagined.

If you haven't visited lately, you have to check out their new tool: type navigator, it helps you figure out what type you need by the specific characteristics of a font. You choose the size of the serif, the general shape, proportions, weight and more, of the characters you want and it matches your choices up with all of the fonts within close match of those characteristics. It's just another way to search for a font when you're not sure what you're looking for, or if you know what you want it to look like, but have no idea what the name of it is.