01 August 1982

My Life in Pictures Part Fifteen: Workin' for a Living

In the late summer of 1982, after floundering around for a few months after my second disappointing year in college (Kendall School of Design 80-82), I applied for a job as a 'paste up artist' for a small Graphic Arts Shop in Grand Rapids. I was the first employee hired by this one woman shop, a family business connected to a pair of 'Speedy Printing' franchises on the south end of town. I started out part time, doing paste up and keylining, and working for the print shop as well, doing bindery and front counter work. Eventually the business grew enough that I worked at the graphic shop full time. I learned how to use the stat camera, designed logos, did a drawing once in a while.

left: a sample of my wife's business card from the late 80s (when we had expanded to three locations), with my logo and card design.

I took a typing class a couple years later and learned to typeset on a Itek machine. I remember being quite thrilled and excited to learn how to make that machine 'draw forms' and eliminating a lot of time and effort in painstaking ink work and paste-up (the perfect job for my obsessive compulsive personality).

right: One of my logo designs that has survived to the present day. I was quite keen on the Avante Garde typestyle, especially the 'extra letters' in the font that leaned one way or the other, like the 'W' in this design, and a few of the letters in the 'Graphic Arts Workshop' logo above.

The company added several employees over the years and I gradually moved into a management position (for which I was poorly suited), and when the shop added another location, I managed the new location on my own (for which I was better suited). My wife began working for the same company in the mid-eighties (at one point we were working together in the same 10x10 office all day), and was still working there for several years after I left in 1989.

Most of the work that I did for this company in the eighties no longer even exists as a recognizable career these days (typesetting, keylining, paste-up, stat camera operation, halftones and mezzotints, etc etc), since computers revolutionized the business in the 90s. I did very little illustration work in my years at this company, although I did a little here and there. A few logos I designed and a few cartoon illustrations are still in use by a few companies around the Grand Rapids area (which I will try and dig up for laughs).

My wife tells me that the logo above was one of my designs (which I found in the yellow pages recently), but to be honest, I'm not all that sure. I have no memory at all of designing this.

left: this logo design was for a local sewing machine company, and is still in use today. I remember getting recruited by this client to paint a large sign for their shop at one point in the 80s, and my wife remembers me cursing up a blue streak because of it.

A local African-American Newspaper still uses a few cartoons of mine from the eighties, and another of my logos for a local foundry is still painted on the side of a building downtown (although I think the company actually folded recently), and another of my logos still adorns the signage for an Apartment complex on the south side of town.

ADDENDUM January 2014 (while outside a bar where we were watching one of our friends' band's play, ran across this truck in the parking lot -- I guess they are still using the logo I designed for them about 30 years ago):

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