A Long Gain for Throat Comfort

Posted in Fortune Magazine by DCroy on 3 November 2008



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One of the things it’s easy to forget about this era of print is the level of production ability: the retouched images, the illustration, the type, all were done by hand with airbrushes and stat cameras and manual color seps and strippers whose work is (was) – to a moron like me – essentially magical. There is something visible, but almost ineffable, about the professionalism this afforded. The A.D. sketched the layout and could focus on the grid and the concept (such as it is), the type house did its work and could pay attention to drawing a script and letterspacing the body copy, the illustrator and photographer and retouchers could focus on perfecting their images. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether these guys were heinously bored with their jobs, but the results certainly stand up.

It seems that the computer has compressed most of those disciplines into a workflow that affords less scrutiny to the details: Photoshop the image, slap the scans in, type the headline, and print it. I think we’re substituting the speed and efficiency of layout on computers for abilities of individuals, with mixed results. And, as a laborer in the commercial arts, I have to wonder about the economics: we’ve cut the labor chain down to as few people as possible, with as little waste as possible, so where does all the extra money go? 

Idle Speculations:

  • This image is one of those things that maybe makes sense in an advertising context, but upon a second look is really fucking strange: a smoking penguin playing football? In a stadium? Is it a stadium in the Antarctic? And, again, smoking while you’re playing football? Does anyone do that?
  • This was an un-ironic era: I wonder how much these bizarre images contributed to later fine artists’ more ironic conceptions of what images were supposed to be or do. 
  • What’s up with that penguin’s blocky-ass feet?
  • Would you really want silk hosiery from your cigarette provider? That seems just plain weird. “Nice socks, Jim.” “Why thanks, Dan. That’s why I smoke Kools”
  • I like that Kool designed to the larger Fortune dimensions. A lot of the ads seemed to use their same artwork, and though the extra white space is kind of nice, this one really pops.

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