Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 24 September 2016
The Lazy Dog
I have spent the last couple of days organising the publicity for H.I.'s forthcoming exhibition. Three years spent as a layout artist for a printing company in the early 1970s should have put me in good stead, but - instead - I have got the weakest of grips on the technology used in modern layout and graphics, so all of my artwork harks back to the days when cut and paste meant exactly that.
I used dark rooms and bromide prints, golfball IBM typesetters, razor blades and Letraset - remember Letraset?! You were always left with a load of letters on the sheet, forcing you to buy a load more expensive new sheets so you could actually spell out the name of the company advertising. You would also be left with many little pictorial, architectural scenes featuring stick-people wandering around newly built shopping centres amongst stick trees. They were the equivalent of emoticons, I think, and even lazy architects didn't use them.
Black lines of varying thicknesses were made using Rotring pens. A complete set of Rotring cost a lot of money - about a week's wages - and they were extremely high maintenance. If you didn't take them completely apart and wash them at the end of the day, they were unusable by the following day. These days, you choose a line from your computer's selection, decide on a start and end point, click a button and there it is.
I have 40-something year-old friends who are graphic artists, and I could never compete with the razzle that they produce. Consequently, my artwork has an old-world charm which they sneer at, but elderly people think is quite competent.
I designed and built H.I.'s website some years ago (it desperately needs updating, but I have almost forgotten how to do it) and, at the time, I was pretty pleased with it. Her grandson looks at it and thinks it is hopelessly out of fashion now, but I think it has an air of calm and tranquility which I would be loathe to ruin with flashing images and self-scrolling slide-shows - just because I can.
Some things, however, never change. There was one typeface which I favoured above the others so much, that I overused it horribly, and bought about 5 times more Letraset sheets than my predecessor so I could. It is called 'Optima'.
I am still overusing it to this day, forty years later, and it is the typeface which is H.I.'s hallmark. It forms both our letterheads, is used in all publicity - it is even used on our doorbell. Old dogs, new tricks, eh?