Briar Levit has a deep fondness for the tools and techniques used by designers before the advent of the computer. Her expertise in analog graphic design led to the creation of the documentary film, “Graphic Means.” During Design Week, Briar is hosting a pop-up workshop where you can play with the very same techniques she discusses in her film, used by generations of designers who worked by hand.
We reached out to Briar to find out a little bit more about her film and her event on April 18th, Analog Type in a Digital World.
DWP: What was it about analog tools that initially hooked you?
Briar: I started the project with a stack of old production manuals I’d amassed. Just looking at the step-by-step illustrations and photos was mesmerizing. I was honestly in awe of the skill and time I saw in the steps it took to do something that I knew I’m not able to do, and wondered if I would have had the patience for if I’d tried.
DWP: What analog methods will you be sharing with folks during Design Week, and why?
Briar: I’m sharing a few of the analog methods that were part of the democratization of typesetting—one because access to tools interests me, and two because these are the only tools you can actually still get your hands on! We’ll be working with an IBM Selectric typewriter, dry transfer type and textures, waxers, some pre-printed grids, and as a special addition to the event, I’m bringing my Macintosh SE. This tool is decidedly digital, but it’s one of the first, and was used often in a hybrid method—in which the designer would set a line of type, print it out, trim it, and paste it up.
DWP: How did your love of paste-up lead to the creation of “Graphic Means?”
Briar: If I hadn’t seen the film Linotype, it would likely have been a book, or just something I tried to share with my classes. But the feeling I had watching the film Linotype was electric. It was like I had finally been let in on this gap of knowledge that was critical and it felt so exciting! Not to mention I enjoyed the process of learning about it. So I felt like, if a graphic designer (Director, Doug Wilson) could do that for the Linotype, then maybe I could do that for paste-up? Turns out my story went much further than paste-up, but with their blessings, and ultimately the mentoring of Doug and others, I made Graphic Means.
DWP: We understand you’ve been traveling all over the world to screen your film. What has that experience been like?
Briar: It has been bizarre at best to screen a movie I made at all, let alone in places like Bangkok or London. I’m honored to be invited, and really love to see designers who worked during the Cold Type Era nodding their heads in agreement during the film, not to mention newer designers shaking their heads in disbelief.
Visit the event page to register.
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