It's crazy that it was only 30 years ago that graphic design was done completely without computers. This video by Lynda.com, created to celebrate Photoshop's 25th Anniversary, shows designer Sean Adams recreating a layout in a vintage print ad using traditional design tools like Rapidograph technical pens, Letraset sheets, drafting tools and good old rubber cement. Watching the video gives you a sense of how much physical labor and skill it took to design and lay out something that can be done so quickly and easily in Photoshop. Imagine how much longer projects must have taken.
Equally fascinating is how Adams notes that the advent of computers has brought graphic design to the forefront of popular culture. Even twelve year olds, he says, know what typefaces are, whereas before, it was just a very minute group of people with these specialized skills who really understood the rules of design.
But it really did take specialized training to do this work. In just this example that Adams demonstrates, designers needed math skills just to be able to center a photograph on a page, have a steady and neat hand to draw lines and paste images, have communication skills to work with photographers and typesetters who they depended on to complete these projects, and patience – a lot of patience.