Monday, June 22, 2015

Hot Type In Hot 'Lanta

From 1969 until 1983 I lived in Atlanta and made somewhat of a living as a graphic designer. My loner temperament would not condone the 9-5 workaday world, so most of my time was spent doing free-lance work.

The city was awash with hot-shot designers during the '70's and us free-lance folk could not afford to be choosy with jobs. During my years there I designed display windows, television props, newspaper and magazine illustrations, gift catalogs and logo designs,

One of the more interesting jobs turned out to be doing the paste-up for a monthly magazine called "Army Aviation Digest." A paste-up involved taking the various elements of a magazine; type, photos, illustrations, and ads, and making them camera ready before being printed.

Everything was straightforward except the magazine's body copy which came from the last of Atlanta's hot type shops. This old school method produced metal type from molten lead on a Linotype machine. I was able to see the machine in action several times and the sights and sounds of the hulking beast reminded me of some Rube Goldberg contraption.

I knew I was looking at a machine that had somehow escaped the hot type mass extinction. Quick and clean photo type had finished off the others years ago. And photo type would be eclipsed in turn a few years later by super fast computers. In mass communication change is the only constant and I felt fortunate to get a glimpse of the last of a gone-by era.

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