EST. 2009

January 28, 2013

That Transferred Type

THEY WOULD GO MISSING FROM MY DAD'S LETRASETS, the letters L, A, D and Y. With a scratch, I'd transfer them onto my books, notebooks and other belongings, including the compartment doors of my wooden study desk, which I then used as a Barbie house. I labelled everything with transfer type!

My dad, who used Letrasets for his work, eventually bought me my own sheets to use as I pleased, occasionally imparting me tips and tricks for typesetting; the pre-digital way.

Unfortunately, it was the early 90s and all knowledge and practice of manual typesetting began its decline, as digital word formatting began its rise. I was about seven when I first tinkered with the then-fairly-new Adobe Photoshop and now-defunct Aldus Freehand, from which I practiced much of the typesetting I know today. Over the years, despite any formal training on composing type, I better familiarized with leading, kerning and tracking, weights, widths and other principles for achieving sound arrangements of characters and spaces on a page. Fortunately, I never had to do or redo anything manually. But just like that, the Letrasets I once held so dear, disappeared from my life forever.

For kicks, I turn to an old reference: yet another book permanently borrowed from Daddy's bookshelf. Studio Secrets for the Graphic Artist provides visual-aided guides for manually composing art. From obtaining the necessary equipment to arranging type and artwork within a layout, the book is a testament to the artisan skill of pre-digital graphic artists. Bravo to the retro.

Instant Art and Preparation of Artwork from Studio Secrets for the Graphic Artist, 1986. By Jack Buchan.