New Software, Learned The Hard Way

by | May 14, 2020

Starting out with pen & paper
When I began as a designer, it was in an era before computers or digital design. We would produce ‘Visuals’ with Magic Markers, ‘cast-off’ type to be sent to the Typesetters and returned as printed ‘Galleys’, which were then glued or waxed into position on the page, with traced-in images and hand-written notes to specify colour.

The equipment…
Magic Markers
Typesetters Depth Gauge
Galleys of Type
Grant Enlarger
Rapidographs
Parallel Motions
Hot Wax Machine
Drafting Film

10 years on, and everything had changed
Digital design and the internet arrived, and designers suddenly had infinite control over every element of a design, and the ability to see the finished product before sign-off.

A huge step forward that came with many benefits, but also some negatives. Clients making ’tweaks’ right up to (and often beyond!) sending the digital file to print.

The software…
Quark Express
Illustrator
Photoshop
InDesign

As we advanced into this digital age, new ways of interacting with and advertising to customers emerged.

Emailers, online marketing campaigns and, of course, a website became a requirement for every business. Designers needed to keep up with technology, or stay true to their craft and outsource any digital services, and so a split began between old-school designers and new-age coders or developers.

There was some cross-over – mostly from those that could ‘build’ who also began to design websites and online campaigns. But that didn’t always go well!

The terminology…
Skyscraper
Sitemap
Hover state
Breadcrumb
Dropdown
SEO

Another 10 years and we’ve learned to get along
As new graphic designers started out they came into an industry that had embraced technology and digital design and arrived with a new way to work and a different set of skills. At the same time the technology became more accessible and those of us still ‘here’ were able to move ahead in this new world ourselves.

So now, more than 30 years after graduation, I’ve been gently ‘nudged’ into working in new applications.

I’ve built and designed websites and styled ‘emailers’, I’ve set up templates for clients to produce and manage their own digital presentations, and I’ve created online ad campaigns.

Although I occasionally offer resistance to working with these new, online applications (there’s so many of them out there and some are much better than others!), it’s satisfying to control a design through to completion and not need a 3rd party developer who might not interpret my brief correctly. So it’s worth ‘grasping the nettle’ to understand both the power and the limitations of each one.

My newest tools…
Squarespace
Mailchimp
Qwilr
Canva
Graphic Burger

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”

Vernon Howard