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Love it or hate it, change happens (part 2)

Change is good. This is a series of blogs looking back at how the graphic design industry has changed in the last 25 years, then what is ahead and how it will affect us all.

Desktop Publishing

This was a huge step forward for the industry. Suddenly we could use software programmes such as Aldus Pagemaker and QuarkExpress to design and layout pages.

Designers and artworkers had to learn how to use the software, but the principles were the same and the printer still printed in CMYK and Pantone inks, so a good understanding of the print process and the terminology was a great advantage.

We were now producing computer based artwork, the first digital files, but the internet and emails were still a few years away. When you sent your work to the printer, it was saved on to floppy disks, then CD’s, which had to be taken, posted or couriered to the printer. Those disks had to contain not only the document files, but also all the image, logo and font files. If anything was missed, it would be a costly delay.

Internet and email

Then, at last, came the internet and email – making communication so much easier.

The internet brought a whole new set of challenges for designers. A totally different media, requiring a completely different approach and new techniques. New colour formats. RGB screen colours pitifully matched printed colours and all colours looked different on different computer monitors.

Designing for the internet was so different, it has become its own specialised field, and while designers concentrate on the visual, it is the website developers and programmers who build your site and manage the SEO and technical aspects.

Creative Software

The creative software used for design and artwork is constantly being developed and upgraded.

  • QuarkXpress became the industry leader for document design and layout, later to lose that position to Adobe InDesign.
  • Adobe Photoshop had emerged for editing and creative effects in photographic images.
  • For many years, there were 2 rivals for the production of illustrations and logos, as Freehand and Adobe Illustrator battled it out, with Adobe Illustrator now the only survivor.

With each major new upgrade of these software packages, there were new skills to learn. New file formats appeared, and we had to know what was best for what media.

In the end, Adobe became the overall software leader as they bundled together InDesign, Illustrator, ­Photoshop into Creative Suite packages.

These sophisticated and complex software programmes needed big computer capacity to both run the software and handle the big files they generated. It was Apple who provided the computers with these capabilities and that is why Apple computers became essential to the graphics industry for many years.

Over the last 25 years, the graphics industry has changed immensely, and is now changing if anything even faster. The next blog will look at what’s new…

Barbara Pilgrim

Designer / Director, FactorEstudio Ltd.