Welcome to the Koger Creative blog!
This is my first post of what I certainly hope will be many to come. The intentions of these posts will be to educate, entertain, and explore the wonderful worlds of graphic design, web development and copywriting, among others. Naturally, I would love for you to leave your comments.
Some background noise
I am going to seriously date myself here. I started in the design field before there were such things as Macs! Although I didn’t exactly paint on the walls of caves in Lascaux, France, I did start out in an ancient discipline—calligraphy. A former girlfriend’s brother had a pen set and he showed me what he could do. Having always been good at art, I decided to give it a try. Guess what? I couldn’t do it! This lead me to purchase some pens and graph paper, along with a textbook by Margaret Shepherd, and I practiced away. I got pretty darn good at it, too. It wasn’t long before I was making some side money addressing envelopes and such. I knew that I needed to learn more about composition if I were going to get really good at this art, so I enrolled in some advertising courses at the local community college (Central Piedmont Community College, for all you fellow Charlotteans out there) which got me doing a lot more than just calligraphy.
The first job I had where I got to use my new skills was at Delmar Printing. Chances are your high school annual was made there. If you were an “artist,” your first job was to rule lines around the space where a photograph was to be inserted. With a computer, this is a piece of cake. Not so with Rapidiograph pens, which is what we had to use back then. You had to use t-squares to line up your page, then draw your rectangle, making sure the edges and corners were just so. Any mistake and you had to start over! No, I’m not kidding. What was really bad was how often a technical pen will clog on you. After awhile, they promoted me to doing inside covers. I got away from technical pens for a bit and got to use this masking film called amberlith. I can still recall those static strips sticking to everything. You had to check yourself thoroughly throughout the day to make sure you weren’t adorned with the stuff. I didn’t stick around long enough to advance to doing actual cover designs!
The Binders Art Center Days
Next job I had in the art and design field was at Binders Art Center. At the time, it was located on Elizabeth Avenue just down the street from CPCC. To give you an idea how long ago this was, Binders used to sell Letraset letters (you burnished the letters in place on your mock-ups); French curves (hated those things, although they looked really cool); and, gasp, paper! I got promoted to their print shop, where we used to create custom adhesive type for museums, advertising agencies and design firms. We also did mock-ups for products for photo-shoots and TV commercials. We had to mix our own inks and try to match the Pantone colors the designers needed for their work. I knew all the who’s who of the Charlotte design world back then. It was pretty cool!
I got my first Mac back in 1993 (I was slow to adapt) and have been hooked ever since. Even though I got into the Mac world post-Steve Jobs, (he had been fired from Apple by this time), I still knew the history and loved my Mac! If you need another laugh, here are the specs for my first computer. I had a Centris 650, 25 MB of RAM, 500 MB hard drive. I can still remember a friend of mine saying, “What are you going to do with all that hard drive space?” The OS won’t even fit on a 500 MB hard drive anymore! I also went crazy and bought way too much software. I got Quark XPress 3.1, Adobe Illustrator 5.0, Photoshop 2.5 and Infini-D (a 3-D program which no longer exists). I was overwhelmed but loved playing with my software! Luckily, I had friends who showed me how to use most of it.
The Lobster Shift
In the late 90s, I went to work at The Charlotte Observer in the Prepress Department. Back then, the Observer used to use both Quark XPress and a product called Multi-Ad Creator. I loved Multi-Ad! Wish it were still relevant, to tell the truth. I worked the late shift, from 10:00pm until 6am. Back in those days, newspapers were still a mainstay, so that meant we worked holidays, weekends, whatever it took to get those ads in the newspaper. Most of the workers in Prepress were folks who used to work with line gauges, ruling tape, rubylith, X-acto blades, etc. When computers replaced those tools, the company trained the workers on Macs. Ah, the good ol’ days when companies actually took care of their workers! Although lacking proper design training, most of those folks were production artist whiz kids! I learned so much from my days on the “lobster shift.” Even though I rarely use Quark XPress these days, I still remember my keyboard shortcuts, thanks to having them drummed into my head back in the day!
To be continued…