The old days of design

I started my design career in 1988 doing layout for a national wholesale food collective. Most of my work was preparing grocery fliers for the member companies.

I also designed ads for food manufacturers, did graphics for events, and did page layout for magazines and programs. There were two of us in the desktop publishing team and we worked long days. I ended up quitting the job because clients were all on short deadlines and there was no way to keep up with all the work. I was working 12 hour days to meet demand and eventually burned out.

One of the things I loved to do was to make ads. We had a big corporate anniversary one year and all of the member companies were persuaded to buy ads in the printed event program. Only one or two of them had in-house designers, so the bulk of the design work fell to me. How many ways can you make a black and white 1/4 page ad with the same congratulatory text look different?

I was using the best tools out there in 1989 – Pagemaker, Corel Draw, and Wordperfect – but their capabilities were limited. This was the early days of “desktop publishing” so I did not have the plethora of fonts, stock photography, or other elements that are available now.

Somehow I muddled through and came up with 60 or so different ads.

I recalled all this recently when I got a familiar request from a client’s client who was running late on getting their ad in for an event: “Can you make the ad for us using this logo and such-and-such text?”

Yeah, no problem. No problem at all.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.