Before Photoshop

B.P. (Before Photoshop)

While working on my new website I had to do a lot of house cleaning. That meant culling through old work and deciding what had to go. A few projects still had heartstrings attached. An old poster I designed for Pacific Lithograph, one of San Francisco’s most fabled printers, was one of them.

It was one of those rare “do whatever you want” assignments. Printing, at the time, was moving into the digital realm and the Scitex workstation was the point of entry. For those who remember, Scitex was the predecessor to Photoshop.  Adobe Creative Suite and desktop publishing were years away.

Old & New Worlds:

This poster had a foot in both. The photography, shot by my friend David Tise, was captured on Kodak 8 x 10 Ektachrome transparency film.   The set was live which meant that every visual element, including Pivie (our model) was in position. Pivie was peaking out from under a black velvet cloth.  The masks were fixed in-place.  Today, each component would be shot separately and composed in Photoshop.

Introducing The Scitex:

The processed 8 x 10 image was then scanned and sent to Pacific Lithograph’s Scitex workstation. All the photo-retouching was accomplished; the masking of Pivie’s face, her forehead was extended to cover her hair and hide the black velvet cloth. All of this is routine today. Back then it was magic.

Digital cameras were still in their infancy.  It took a few years before technology could capture the detail of large format film.

High Resolution Printing:

The posters were printed on a giant eight color Heidelberg sheet fed press. This press was also new technology at the time which delivered four process colors, two special colors and two varnishes – simultaneously. This poster was the first printed piece to showcase all of these new capabilities.

Each finished 20 in. wide x 24 in. high poster was packed in a custom flat box, wrapped in tissue and hand delivered to art directors and designers in the Bay Area. As I recall, it made quite a splash and generated business for Pacific Lithograph’s new digital suite. It also won a few graphic arts competitions including a New York Art Director’s Club Silver Award.

Poster Copy:

Beauty is also in the eyes of the printer!

True beauty on paper. Subtleties of light, shadows and saturation of color that read. An idea that originated in your head has journeyed from the abstract to the dimensional. You and the printer saw eye-to-eye from the start. The beauty is yours to behold.

Pacific Lithograph Co.