By Design is back.

ByDesign has a long history in the Communication Design Department. What began as an in-print newsletter is now our KUCD blog. Professor Emeritus John Landis began the original in the 1970s as a way to communicate the successes of KUCD Grads. He writes:

“In the 1970s I saw the need for a newsletter featuring what graduates were doing. We were starting to hear such great things about the careers of grads from the newly-formed Advertising Art major, as it was called. I knew a newsletter would serve the dual purpose of sharing info with other grads, as well as a sales tool to give to visiting prospective students and their parents. It was also, in my own vanity, a way for me to always take the first column of the first page for my “editorial.” I like to write and always had something I wanted to talk about. Some of my topics, especially those of a philosophical nature, were better than others.

The original name of the newsletter was The Old School Tie, because in those days all art professors and students were in the School of Art. I also picked up on the tradition of every male student in British schools having to wear a necktie with the sacred colors of their school. In the newsletter name, the “tie” part confirmed that grads had lasting ties to Kutztown State College.

In those days the college had an on-campus, offset lithographic press, very small. It was located for awhile on the ground floor in the back of Old Main, then in the one-floor building near the Health Center that had been the bookstore. The one-color, 11 x 17 maximum the press could handle meant a four-pager, although I occasionally had so much info that I needed an 8-pager which I personally collated and folded for traditional mailing.

While it took time, very enjoyable time at that, I read and responded personally to each letter I got from grads. The volume of mail increased after the first few issues. Graduates would tell me about their careers, even about marriages and babies. I edited each response and put it in the next issue. Prof. Thomas Schantz was Reporter-at-Large at my request, and he provided a wealth of good information especially about grads of Art Education as well as others who had written to him. There was never any additional pay or release time for either of us, or any production budget for that matter. But, it was totally worth it to hear from former students and “live through” their successes.

When we became a university in name, I decided we needed a new name for our “rag,” and long before InDesign software, I named it ByDesign, because we were then the Communication Design Department, part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Because I taught Campus Graphics, the half-semester course that created and produced actual pieces of promotional and related printed material for clients across campus, I used off-campus printers to print ByDesign a number of times. It was early in the digital printing era, and one of our four production printers used all digital equipment, the others traditional offset lithography. This permitted several full-color issues. I justified taking money from the Campus Graphics budget to print those color issues since a front-cover illustration was assigned to a Campus Graphics student. We never had any earmarked budget other than my somewhat questionably siphoning off Campus Graphics budget money for the good cause of making a better-looking newsletter. Prospective students and parents always got a copy to take home after a facilities tour. Impressive careers of graduates as reported in ByDesign certainly must have encouraged a few students to come to KU along with all the other increasingly glitzy promo material Admissions gave out.

When I retired in 2003, two more issues were graciously produced by Prof. Brenda Innocenti and Prof. Kevin McCloskey. But, the interactive design era had really arrived, and the traditional printed newsletter that had to be bulk mailed out became a thing of the past, so ByDesign as an ink-on-paper entity was quietly disbanded.

–John K. Landis, Professor Emeritus, Communication Design


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