High tech, high touch?
A real transition is in the making for me. This is the first issue of By Design ever created on a Macintosh. Letting go of the traditional ways is not easy, so I’ve created only the body copy on the Mac. I know PageMaker the best; and I’m not sufficiently satisfied with my abilities to control kerning on the screen, so I’ve still reverted back to setting heads in Stymie Bold on our Varityper Comp/Set 3510.
In starting my current Production Processes class on a desktop publishing assignment after ten full weeks of traditional mechanicals with T-square, triangle, and X-acto, I asked them to philosophically discuss several statements about computers and art. One statement said “It is important to learn to design (and do production) by traditional means first, before you work on computers.”
Now, a few philosophical questions for you…Psychologists tells us that the more we get high tech, the more we need high touch. Should students set “foundry type” (simulating the way metal type used to set up) the cut it up by X-acto to kern and improve letterfit before they manipulate it electronically on a computer screen? I think the answer is “yes.” I adopted this assignment, developed by David Bullock, for the first time last fall in my own Typography class. Can the beginning student in the graphic arts “get the feel” of type without ever touching individual letters…like indicating them on a rough or tight comp? Perhaps not. Can you proofread copy on the screen as easily as printing out and reading a hard copy? I know I cannot. Will my production classes always do some assignments by T-square and triangle before moving to electronic means? Yes, most likely.
The more I feel comfortable with this additive new medium, the more I will convert some aspects of my own design work to it. But, I’m still going to do some work by traditional means both now and (probably…) in the future. I like touching artwork; and I’ll always make sure my students have the opportunity to do it, too.
-John K. Landis