When I was a kid, and I had to do a school project, I would put way more thought into the look of the thing I was handing up than I did the actual content of the assignment. If it was an A4 report or essay of some kind, I would try to make an elaborate title page. If it was a poster I rejoiced, because it meant drawing, cutting, gluing, fancy hand lettering – whatever was required to create the layout I had in my head.
Like most young girls I adored stickers, but the other item I would drop pocket money on in the newsagent was Letraset dry transfer lettering. That stuff was the best! I also developed a technique for creating cool project designs that involved making a layout using elements I had drawn, found or photocopied, gluing them to a sheet of paper, and photocopying the whole design. Then I could embellish this design with colour by hand if I wanted. Sometimes I would photocopy the photocopies of an image many times over, because I liked the slightly distressed look it created.
It was only years later when I became a graphic design student that I realised what I had been doing in primary school bore a remarkable resemblance to paste-up – the method of assembling a layout by hand in order to create film, and in turn printing plates. By the time I was a student this manual, labour intensive task had been replaced by computer-to-plate technology. But I was fascinated to learn that long before I had ever heard of graphic design, I was out there doing it.
It’s a love affair that continues and that often feels like any other relationship. We endure highs and lows, challenges and moments when we’re reminded why we fell in love in the first place. Me and graphic design. We’ve endured a time (now long past) when I wondered whether or not we should part ways. Then we fell in love all over again and now everything is made new. No detail is too small, no job is too mundane to deserve special attention.
always keep it fresh; and always approach even the most humdrum of routine tasks with great passion.
After coming so close to breaking up with design I realised what most people in long term relationships realise – that the secret is always keep it fresh; and always approach even the most humdrum of routine tasks with great passion.
So we go on together, me and my first love, excited to see what creative adventures each new day might bring.
And I am definitely going to buy some rub-down lettering. Old school.