I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my career in advertising lately. I wouldn’t change a thing except maybe going out on my own much sooner.
So here’s a story about the some Mad Men that I new or what was it really like starting an advertising career in the early eighties.
I went to art school then ad school. I was taught production art, you know paste up.
My first job was for Mike Dektas at D&E in Mt Adams. I interviewed with all the hot agencies of the time, nobody bit. Then I had an opportunity to interview with production manager, Jackie Duffy and the super production pro, Mike “Spike” Davidson. It went well. Well enough to be interview by Dektas himself, which was eye opening and worthy of a story all by itself.
I got the gig. 11k per year. I was making 3 times that waiting tables at the Rookwood Pottery restaurant-I was living at home in North Bend with my Mom & Dad.
My responsibilities were to learn from Spike because he was the best in the city, he was, really. He taught me about typography, skills that I still fall back on today. Back then, there were no computers, you sent your copy to typesetters, they sent gallies and headlines that you had to cut and paste them together with rubber cement. It was an exacting skill that had to be learned and practiced daily. He taught me the importance of clean readable headline and flowing body copy.
A run-around was monumental deal. I’m a better art director because of this training.
But the other duty that I was in charge of was the stat camera. It was a beast. We had a PosOne machine that was all-included, the camera and processing unit were all in one. It was in a special room that smelled of chemicals-dev, fix and other caustic stuff. A slight wiff of weed too.
Once you had hand cut and pasted the headline, a photostat was made for the paste up. Fucking magic. Once Letraset came around, you could typeset anything yourself. This camera had a platen at one end for the original art work and a creepy pair of holes on the other end for the photo paper vault and viewing glass. You put the paper on the glass, dialed in the %, exposed and then fed the paper into a slot in the vault. Minutes later a perfect photostat would come out the the other end.
Art directors would bring me their type and I’d size it for them. It was busy work and keeping on on the supplies was a weekly hassle.
One more thing I remember back in the day was my artboard. I got to order a brand new one from Commercial. I still use it to this day, laden with Macs and screens. Underneath the borcor covering, it has a thousand pushpin holes. We used push pins to hold the pasteup boards to the desk. It was squared with a tee square(now the back scratcher) and triangles. We had to inked the crop marks with rapidiographs(always 2” in of the the side of the board.) Crops, folds, key lines for photos. A lost art, gone with the type houses and color separators from a long gone time.
With the advent of the Apple Mac, everything changed. The art director had to set the type, shoot, retouch and color sep the photos and lay it all out. I should have and Adobe tattoo for the years I’ve been using their apps.
I consider myself an advertising artist because of all the hands on training I got early in my career.
I can make my Mac do just about anything. But the key to my success has been learning from everyone I worked with and keeping my skills and creative mojo fresh and up to date.
I have skills…like knowing my way around a stat camera.