Cold Type: The Years of Paste-up Graphics

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In today’s age, many graphic designs are made via computer software, like Photoshop, but before we had all of our fast and forward thinking programs, designs were made by hand and machine. Cold Type: the Years of Paste-Up Graphics is an exhibition that highlights the ways that graphic designs were created before our modern-day technologies. Theodora Pangos hopes to bring the knowledge of the craftsmanship to the public by presenting original objects that are now only seen represented virtually on a digital desktop.

The exhibition will explore printing techniques from the 1960s through to the 1980s. It will showcase a collection of cold type tools that were used to make a comprehensive design (initial page layout) and mechanicals. There is also a selection of artefacts to represent the designs made, including pre-computer graphic communication books and manuals, posters and original paste-ups. These examples show the artistry and expertise that is needed to develop prints, as well as the craftsmanship that went into creating them.

This exhibition aims to share academic and practical knowledge of production processes with the public to show the advancement of the graphic field. By delving into the tools of the trade from the mid-twentieth century, the show highlights the evolution from traditional to contemporary tools.

Get an insight into the development of the show directly from curator Theodora Pangos:

Q&A

  • Can you tell me a little about your background?

I am originally from Cyprus, I moved to England 6 years ago and did a BA in VisCom. After my BA I worked as a project manager at the agency with university. Now I am doing my MA in Arts and Design disciplinary practices at Margaret Street. The exhibition is part of my final project.

  • What interests you about the old style of printing?

Whilst researching for my BA dissertation I came across an article that was about the old style of printing and their tools. I was fascinated by the idea of making the prints by hand, because I didn’t really think about how there weren’t computers in the past.

  • What inspired you to make this exhibition?

I was intrigued about how graphic designers were working before computers and the article I found interested me about the different techniques. Graphic designers were actually doing one layout, rather than like 3 or 4 to show their clients. It’s easier now.

  • What can visitors of the gallery expect from your exhibition?

They can expect to gain information, to learn what graphic designers were working with before modern technologies. It is also for the older generations to feel nostalgic about the old ways of printing.

  • How has your time at BCU been? Is it a good place to work as a graphic designer?

I have met loads of people here, through the agency and the MA, I have also collaborated with loads of people. The facilities here are great and it is a good working environment. I have printed most things for the exhibition in the university. I really like being here, because of all the people and facilities.

  • What are your plans after the exhibition has finished? Are you thinking of moving it to another city?

I would like to combine graphic design and exhibition design. I’m planning on applying for Museum jobs, ones that involve setting up visuals for exhibitions.

  • Is there a certain collectors market for the artefacts and machines you have collected?

There are some blogs around these types of tools, so I spoke to some people that are part of the community of graphic designers, I have befriended some of the sellers as well, they helped me get the content for the exhibition. They have also given me more of a background for the exhibition. The tutors that work at BCU have helped as well. The artefacts are usually cheap because no one wants them and they’re vintage.

  • How has the old style of printing affected your own work?

Before, I was doing things by hand still, but I have realised the potential of the work I can do as I can use the objects I have bought. In the future I want to try and be craftier and design less on the computers.

  • How would you describe your exhibition in three words?

Nostalgic, creative and educational.

Written by Isabella Shannon, student at Swanshurst School.

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