How Did Graphic Design Work Before Computers?

Many people fondly remember the “good ole’ days.” Back when everyone sat down for Sunday dinner, singing kids played hopscotch in the streets, and couples could get into the drive-in for a nickel—those were the days!

Of course when it comes to graphic design, the nostalgia starts to…wear off. Before the advent of programs like Photoshop and InDesign, creating logos and ads was a significantly more painstaking and time-consuming process than it is now! It involved cutting out pictures and text with razor blades, carefully gluing (or waxing) things in place, and drawing perfectly straight lines, over and over.

Hunter-McMain, Inc. has been in business since 1989—and when we started out, we didn’t even use computers! Our designers can remember back (not so fondly) to long hours cutting and waxing down all the components of an ad until it was just so—only to start over from the beginning when the client decided he wanted a different font or a new image.

In fact, we still have some old design tools sitting around the office! Designers used tools like these to create their designs:

Lectro-Stik WAX (left, center) was applied to the back of type photo paper to attach it to art boards. Rubber cement (right)was used to adhere regular paper or “placement” photos (that is, photos used to determine the placement of an image within the ad.)
Lectro-Stik WAX (left, center) was applied to the back of type photo paper to attach it to art boards. Rubber cement (right)was used to adhere regular paper or “placement” photos (that is, photos used to determine the placement of an image within the ad.)
These special pens known as Rapidiographs, were for creating specific line-widths by hand.
These special pens known as Rapidiographs, were for creating specific line-widths by hand.
This “die-cut” was a specially made (and expensive) metal stamp, used to emboss paper! The designer usually owned the die-cut and sent it to the printer to use on the final product.
This “die-cut” was a specially made (and expensive) metal stamp, used to emboss paper! The designer usually owned the die-cut and sent it to the printer to use on the final product.
This fancy stuff is called Letraset. The letters could be rubbed off onto paper one by one, but it had to be done right or parts of the letter wouldn’t stick and the image would be ruined!
This fancy stuff is called Letraset. The letters could be rubbed off onto paper one by one, but it had to be done right or parts of the letter wouldn’t stick and the image would be ruined!

This great video by the publishing and multimedia company Airows shows the pre-computer process of building an ad! Our veteran designers at Hunter-McMain have confirmed that, yes, this is actually how they used to do it. Watch:


BONUS: This beautiful tool is called the “Gentle Rub Electric Eraser.” That’s right, it’s just an eraser. That is ALL it was used for. You’re welcome.

Gentle Rub Electric Eraser.
Gentle Rub Electric Eraser.


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Happy Halloween!


We’re celebrating Halloween so here’s a little history lesson… Halloween is shortened for All Hallows’ Evening, also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th Century. Halloween was influenced from ancient Celtic festivals, which took stock of supplies and prepare for the winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. Bonfires frequented the festivals to which insects were attracted to, which led bats to the area. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Trick-or-Treating has been a customary Halloween tradition since the early 1950s. The tradition of going from door-to-door receiving food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”, where children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for the cakes. Guising–children disguised in costumes going from door-to-door receiving food and coins, predates trick-or-treating, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895. Many carried lanterns made out of scooped out turnips. Since pumpkins usually grow best in the fall, it probably evolved into the jack-o-lanterns we know of today.

Today, Halloween has exploded into many activities–trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks and horror films. claims that Halloween generates $6 million each year.

We hope you have fun tonight!

The Direct Mail Advantage


Ask any expert in advertising and they will tell you there is no better way to sell a product that is more successful or cheaper than direct mail.

Direct mail is the only way to target your audience. Yes, you might reach a couple of million people advertising in a popular regional magazine, but out of this investment what are your actual odds in reaching the exact audience you are trying to target? Consider the amount of competing ads in a magazine, the money spent (as high as $28,000 for a full page ad) and the audience needing your product could mean a lot of wasted money.

The beauty of direct mail is a targeted mailing list. You can zero in on a specific audience. For instance, say you only want to reach seniors, who live in a home, in two specific zip codes, whose income is above $75,000 and drive trucks and are left handed. Cheep Cheep PostcardsTM CAN GET YOU THAT LIST! Mailing lists are based on your audience’s past history, their income, their ages, if they have children, their years of education, their purchases, their hobbies, their cars, and so on. Each time you refine your list you eliminate non-customers. The more you know about your audience the easier they are to reach and sell to.

Designing a Direct Mail Postcard. According to the United States Postal Service, 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered and 77 % sort through it immediately. Everybody looks at the postcard, but some experts say that there is 5-seconds to make your point. Using a coupon on the postcard usually gives it staying-around power. Here are few elements, we believe, should always be on your postcard direct mail piece:

  • Your company name and logo
  • Contact information
  • Return address
  • Clear bold headline
  • Subhead that leads to text
  • Graphic image or illustration that supports the message
  • Typography that enhances
  • Make an offer and a Strong “call to action”
  • Great colors that highlights your product or service

Cheep Cheep PostcardsTM has designed thousands of postcards. We are dedicated to producing high-quality direct mail postcards–exactly to your specifications–using custom designed, full-color printing for an exciting and effective way of direct mail advertising. For more information, please call 1-888-222-4337 or visit us at


The Metro News

We discovered a series of ads for Amsterdam’s Metro News that we think is “Advertising that Works!” The headlines all read “Bringing the world to you.” One ad features a fellow reading the Metro newspaper on a train with three world figures sitting around him –Russian president, Vladimir Putin, The Pope, and Angela Merkel, German Politician and former research scientist.

Another ad has a woman reading the news on a park bench while The Queen of England is riding by on her bicycle. These ads were developed by an advertising agency in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, called Animal Farm. We say awesome job!

For more “Advertising that Works!” visit our blog each Friday.

metronews metronews2

Today is United Nations Day


This day recognizes the United Nations organization. The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after World War II by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN World Food Programme provides food to 90 million people in 75 countries. The organization is made up of a General Assembly (193 Member States), a Security Council (5 permanent members–China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States and 10 non-permanent members), Economic and Social Council (54 members), and an International Court of Justice made up of 15 judges.

For more information on the United Nations visit their website Won’t you celebrate this day with us?

Keep It Clean!



This chick at The Cheeps (me) noticed in my daily commute the various company trucks, vans and cars that have plastered their logo plus phone number on the sides of their vehicles. Here in Houston, Texas, there are many companies who advertise this way. The companies varied from Fed Ex, Joe the Plumber, Carpet Cleaning, Custom T-shirts, etc. Many were complete vehicle wrapped ads while several were magnet-style signs, and while others were painted on. I critiqued them on their visibility and whether or not it would actually lead me to find them. (Yes this is what graphic designers do while in heavy traffic). Some vehicles were clean, but several were not. One in particular was a full-blown advertisement on the vehicle, which is called a wrap vehicle. The cost of these are not cheap, somewhere between the price of $900- $4,000. This one in particular was colorful and wrapped from the front to the back and even over the roof. It had a QR code on it, but I couldn’t scan that while driving–even during the traffic jam slowness. It was bold and colorful but I did not see a phone number, an address or company name. It had a very small website address which I remembered though it was not easy to. As it turns out the web address was to the vehicle wrap company, not to the product that was plastered all over the vehicle. Another car had a simple magnet that couldn’t have been more than 24×24 inches that was clear on what the service was, and who to call, and what their website was… All understood while zipping by at 50 mph! They got a great critique from me. The cost for one of these signs is not much more than $50. Whichever type of vehicle advertisement you decide on make sure your vehicle is always clean, make sure your sign is easy to understand, and represents your company in the best way possible.

Advertising that Works!

We have the opportunity to put together the show handout for the International Quilt Festival and in doing so we receive hundreds of ads in the quilting industry. We make sure they are print-ready and we see many beautiful ads. For this week’s “Advertising that Works”, we are highlighting our favorite! We chose “Contempo”! We love their ads; we always look forward to seeing what ad they will do for each show. What a neat way to advertise their new line of fabric. Thank you for the eye candy, Contempo!


Office Etiquette


Manners should be applied professionally not just personally. Etiquette is vital in the workplace and should specifically be taken seriously in front of clients. We sometimes forget that business is about people. Wouldn’t you rather work with, collaborate with, or buy from someone who is polite and take mannerism seriously? Here are a few basic rules when it comes to etiquette at work and when meeting with clients.

  1. Introductions. The most important thing is that introductions be made. When in doubt, ask if they have been introduced before. Introductions in business are based on rank. The lower ranking person is introduced to the higher-ranking person. Easier to remember – say the name of the higher ranked person first. Clients and executives or distinguished guests are always in this category. Handshakes should not be weak and you should smile while looking into their eyes.
  2. No phone use during meetings. When in a meeting focus on the meeting and the discussion. Don’t text, take calls, or check email. This is just rude to the other attendees and makes the meeting last longer. This includes luncheons. If this rule is hard for you, don’t bring your phone to the meeting.
  3. Be polite sharing office space. Watch your language, your noise level, and workspace. If sharing, make sure you don’t take up more room then another and keep your area clean and organized. This rule includes the kitchen area. Don’t store old, moldy food in the fridge. Make sure your items are marked if you don’t want to share. Don’t forget your table manners when eating. Take caution when bringing food into your office space that you share. Not everyone likes the smell of your favorite dish.
  4. General manners matter. Don’t walk into someone’s office unannounced. Don’t eavesdrop. Don’t gossip. Don’t interrupt. Acknowledge others in the hall or on the street– a simple wave or nod will do. Avoid the “big two”–no need to discuss politics or religion. Leave your personal problems at the door. Focus on work when at work.
  5. Email etiquette.  Communication should be written as if the recipient is standing in front of you and your boss in the room. Choose your words wisely and carefully. Make sure the tone is what you wish to convey. Double check before you hit send! Respond to an email in a timely manner. Avoid smiley faces or other emotion icons. Copy (CC) only those necessary.
  6. Language Barriers. Its not polite to speak in another language even if it’s the majority… if there is one person in the room who can’t understand, then don’t! It makes the person feel excluded.
  7. Timing. Be punctual. Be aware of the times you set appointments and how long you said it would last. Make sure you are prepared when leading a meeting by having an agenda and other documents ready BEFORE you step into that conference room.
  8. Business card pushers. Don’t simply hand out business cards to everyone you meet. It’s a bit too aggressive unless you are on a sales call. Ask for the other person’s card and offer to exchange or ask if you can leave a card with someone before getting it out.

Advertising that Works!

This week’s Advertising that Works! Is from Braun, the beard shaver. It’s mostly all photo except for a small headline that says “Precision Prevails”. That’s pretty precise!



Ergonomics and Human Factors



Image: Copyright of Wiki Media Commons

There is more to ergonomics than sitting in your chair!  

Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and the equipment and devices that fit the body’s cognitive abilities. Contributions from engineering, psychology, statistics, biomechanics, mechanobiology, industrial design, graphic design, operations research and anthropometry all play a role in  how we should sit at our work desk. The perfect fit between a person and the used technology, human factor specialist consider the activity being done and the demands of the user, and the equipment used. 

Here are 4 quick steps to set up your workstation

Step 1- Chair: Push your hips back as far back as they can go. Adjust your seat height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Adjust the back of the chair to a 100°-110° reclined angle. Make sure your upper and lower back is supported. Adjust the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed.

Step 2- Keyboard: Pull up close to your keyboard. Position the keyboard height so that your shoulders are relaxed your elbows are in a slightly open position (100°-110°) and your wrists and hands are straight. Palm support can help to maintain neutral postures and pad hard surfaces. Place the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible.

Step 3-Monitor, Documents and Telephone: Center the monitor directly in front of you above your keyboard. Position the top of the monitor about 2-3” above seated eye level. Sit at least an arm’s length away from the screen and then adjust the distance for your vision. Reduce glare by adjusting curtains or blinds as needed. Positionj documents directly in front of you, between the monitor and the keyboard, using an copy stand. Place your telephone within easy reach. Use a headset or speaker phone to eliminate cradling the handset.

Step 4- Take a break!  Take short 1-2 minute stretches ever 20 -30 minutes. After each hour of work take a break or change tasks for at least 5-10 minutes. Avoid eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically by looking away from the monitor and focus on something in the distance.