I remember a time when an entire industry did nothing but produce type. Typesetters were professionals. The headlines they set were perfect. Their kerning (letter spacing) was meticulous. It was an exacting profession and it mattered. The last thing an art director wanted was a poorly-kerned headline that screamed mediocre workmanship.
Photographers, illustrators and printers mattered too. As talented professionals in their own right, they brought their own unique touch to bear. They added tremendous value and elevated pieces like annual reports to works of art.
And to pull it all together, designers would sweat the small stuff and it showed. The perfect message meticulously typeset and wrapped in just the right sea of white space punctuated by memorable imagery – all made for some of the most iconic graphics of our time.
Even today, when we have infinitely more creative tools at our disposal, iconic pieces from yesterday not only still stand out, but are responsible for the continued success of some of the largest and most well-known brands of today.
Why do they stand the test of time? Because design matters. With today’s democratization of design tools – an explosion of ready-made templates, a computer in every room, clip-art and stock this and that – it’s actually getting easier to stand out with quality professionally-produced custom design.
Would we go back to hand-waxing type and cutting rubylith? No way.
What a professional graphic designer had yesterday and still has today is the talent and the expertise to convey a message creatively, clearly and memorably using the tools they have at hand. And now, more than ever, that matters.