Graphic design tools

Thirty-five years

Michael Dillon, September 08, 2014

There was a time when daily life at McDill was dominated by things for which we no longer have any frame of reference. Things like lucys, stats, t-squares, proportion wheels, French curves, Nijis, and Letraset. Jobs required character counts, hand-rendered type, oceans of tape, parchment, flapping paper and Crescent board. Paraphernalia peculiar to graphic design such as electric pencil sharpeners, waxers, Exacto knives, rapidograph pens, non-photo blue pencils and layout paper were intrinsic to the business of commercial art, as we called it then. Intrinsic too were large envelopes, messengers, frantic calls to typographers, and scotch-taped revisions to layouts.

Equipment for which we had longed, and for which we saved for months and maybe years to afford; faxes, Xeroxes, stat machines, Polaroids that were then utterly indispensable are now sitting idle or carted away lost in a vast Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark storage somewhere.

All of this stuff now resides inside of plastic and metal boxes on our desks. Nearly every task, from typography to key line to illustration, even communication happens with keystrokes two feet from my face. And I don’t miss any of it, well, maybe colored pencils.

McDill Design turns 35 this year and in that time everything has changed and yet so much is still the same. Things are easier and yet they are harder. They are very complicated and yet much simpler. But creativity, while there are many new and fearsome tools that aid in its process, still resides outside the metal and plastic box and paraphernalia. It will always dwell in the hearts and minds of the creative people who use the tools, whatever they are.