Graphic Design Before the Computer

      Sep 27, 2010 / 4 Brilliant Comments

Publication Design, page layout and typography vintage handbook on design

What would we do as graphic designers without the computer? Before the ease of Photoshop and Illustrator, and before the ease of transferring our design sketches onto our computer screens, graphic designers copied, pasted and stripped. Past greats worked this way before 1984 and created some of the most iconic logo designs of all time. That year marked the introduction of apple’s first ever Mac with a GUI (Graphic User Interface) and a mouse.

Apple revolutionized the industry and made graphic design much more common and widespread. Pretty much anyone can get their hands on computer design software, but that doesn’t mean they know what true design is. Graphic design is actually a true profession, as opposed to what people think. We work hard to develop design sketches into working concepts and create original ideas from nothing. Just putting that out there.

Now back to the process of layout and stripping.

Before using the computer as a tool for design, graphic designers used scalpels, drawing boards, typesetting machines and darkrooms. Each element that belonged on the final page of the design concept was either illustrated or cut out from actual pictures. If the sizing wasn’t correct, back to the darkroom. Once the final design layout was placed correctly, large cameras were required to create negative film of the final design for the stripping process. Stripping is the process of arranging the film negatives into a pattern to create an order of pages. Each color requires it’s own negative when using a printing press. These processes are rarely done anymore, as they are too time consuming.

New graphic design software allows us to skip the old “copy and paste” and stripping process, allowing us to do the work in a quarter of the time. Let’s be thankful.


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