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I became interested in graphic design via a rather fancy typewriter. It was an IBM machine that had a few fonts on balls (similar to the Selectric). With a great deal of very careful work you could set reasonably decent type. However, it was strictly utilitarian. I used this machine while I was an editorial assistant on the staff of two electronics industry trade magazines—Circuits Manufacturing and Electronic Design both published in Boston. I became fascinated with the output of this machine and with the work I saw being done on a drafting table.

It was during this time period that I made a simple printing press and acquired a couple of cases of used lead type. This was the beginning of what became a complete nineteenth century letterpress operation.

From this point on my working life centered around words and letters and lines. I studied paper making, calligraphy, color theory, printmaking, graphic design, and photography. As I did so, I discovered that I had a natural talent for messing about with letters, words, and images. And, for 25 years I earned my living as a graphic designer and typographer.

Companies I've worked for

In 1980 when I had my own design studio in Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of my clients was U.S. Robotics—then in its infancy. I had no prior knowledge of computers at that point, much less modems. But, my work for them necessitated familiarizing myself with all the computer and communications magazines on the market. As I read I realized that the PC was where the world was headed. I bought one then, in 1980, and have never looked back.

Another client was The Selmer Company, makers of a full range of band instruments for the student and the professional. One of the highlights of my career was when I toured the Selmer factory in Indiana and saw, on the wall beside a worker's station, one of my 4-color brochures. I've had accolades from teachers, printers, creative directors, and other designers, but nothing ever brought me more pleasure than that. I had made something which pleased one of the lower-rung workers to the point where she used it to decorate her station.

One of the more exciting companies I worked for was The French Paper Company. It was still run by the family, and made all kinds of paper in Niles, Michigan. The work I did for them was pure delight. All of the projects were directed at showing what could be done with their products. And that meant I was designing pieces that would be handed out to other designers and to ad agencies. I had complete control and could choose the subjects and the treatment of them. For one of them I even set lines of a rare lead typeface that I had and the proofs were used in the piece.

The mid-eighties was a time when small printers were just beginning to think about doing their own digital typesetting and starting to use computers. I was hired by A-1 Printing in Kalamazoo to bring the company into the computer age. It was an exciting project that combined all of my skills at that point.

Over the course of a number of years I also designed books for Medieval Institute Pulications at Western Michigan University.

Return to Vermont and different work

In 1988 the condition of my elderly parents made the return to Vermont a necessity and unfortunately I left studio work. I first worked as an editor and desktop publications director for Associates in Rural Development in Burlington. I left there to work as a technical writer for Vermont Creative Software in Richford, eventually becoming a junior programmer.

After five years at that, when they were laying off people, I asked to be laid-off. With the severance package I tried to start a web site design business, but in 1995 it was too early. I ended up spending all my time explaining the internet to people and trying to get them to see what was coming, but they weren't ready. Most of them seemed to think it was a lot of talk about nothing! So, I went back to work for a couple of high-tech start-ups mostly working with graphics for TV remote controls and then at a firm that was trying to develop inexpensive products for browsing the internet or reading email.

My last official project was to design a closed internet browsing system for Canadian schools. It was a great project, but unfortunately never went anywhere.

At that point I'd had enough of doing internet design work for people who didn't understand the internet, didn't understand how people wanted to use it, and certainly didn't understand how one designs for the internet. I left the hi-tech world for a lo-tech one and became a piano technician!  Return to Top
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