Friday, January 16, 2009

Tech schmeck!

I hate to admit it, but I’m old enough to remember the age before computers.

When I applied for an art department opening in 1969, there were no questions about my skill level with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. I wasn’t asked if I had experience with Dreamweaver or website design. The last thing on anyone’s mind was my ability to operate a scanner and digitizer or whether I knew my way around color management software. All they needed to learn about me was that I had a steady hand, a keen eye for detail, some degree of talent and a strong desire to work. I can still remember the proficiency test: I was handed a Ulano swivel knife and asked to cut a Sta-Sharp stencil of a sale ad for Tradehome Shoes. Since I had hand-cut many stencils in school, the test was easy and I landed the job.

At the time, the only computer used by the company was in the accounting department. It was a large box in a small room that got quite warm from all of the electronics. Personal computers were not yet available, and all of the artwork we produced in those early years was through traditional stencil cutting, type setting and graphics photography.

PC’s began appearing during the mid-to-late 1970’s. CAD (computer aided design) workstations created huge growth in the design and art fields and the industry never looked back. Over many years in my role as a manager in the graphics business, I have always maintained that artists who were first involved in those traditional skills became our most talented and productive employees. There is something about creating an image with your hands and your mind that cannot be equaled by today’s high speed computer systems. By no means do I minimize the technical skills of graphic designers and production artists in the field today; it is absolutely amazing what these people are able to do with keyboard, tablet and scanner. I guess I simply have a soft spot for the old days, and I’m sure that is why I have not changed in my pursuit of fine art using traditional methods and techniques.

It’s ironic that after nearly 40 years in the graphics business, and close to 25 of those years supervising an art department, I probably couldn’t even get a job today in the high tech world of a modern art department. I certainly have a solid understanding of the capabilities of the systems, but my computer skills have been limited mainly to spreadsheets and word documents for some time now.

That’s OK, though.

I have my brushes!


Mike said...

Hey Pops, I read your blog every time you write a new one! I really enjoy reading them! Keep on writing!

Tonia said...

I agree, even though I am part of the computer generation, there is nothing better than developing photography by hand...the smell of the chemicals...the way the darkroom seems to time warp you and before you know it you've been in there for five hours...the way your photo magically appears from the white paper...everything about it is more fulfilling than simply clicking around in Photoshop.

It's the difference between making a cake from scratch, verses pouring cake-mix into a bowl and adding eggs. They taste basically the same but only one of them was made with love. :)