Tag Archives: typography

The year was 1985, the last recession.

Our 1983 first logo

Our 1983 first logo, click to enlarge

1985, Vancouver witnessed; Rick Hansen, beginning his round-the-world Man in Motion tour in a  wheelchair, Mike Harcourt was Mayor of the city, the rapid-transit system SkyTrain, opened and design work began on Canada Place the future Canadian Pavilion for Expo 86 and we where experiencing a terrible recession – nothing like 2008-2010 – and I was invited to join Baseline as a graphic designer, at the time a 12 member cooperative, typesetting and production house.

Baseline was located on the second floor, in what was known as the old Harry Hammer building, an unappealing slab concrete structure, where walking up the flight of stairs was faster than waiting for the elevator to access Baselines cavernous, 1200 square foot space. Uncovered concrete floors, unpainted concrete pillars, an uninspired 1970’s paint scheme and the hum of what was at the time state-of-the-art Agfa phototypesetting equipment, a stat camera and darkroom, paste-up stations with home-made light tables and not a great deal to inspire a young graphic designer, other than the professional and incredible skills of the typesetters and other equipment and knowledge required to produce design for print back then.

Baseline had a very rudimentary identity and limited marketing material to sell our services in what was a very competitive Vancouver market. Clients consisted of book and magazine publishers primarily, individual designers, and the odd small business or service provider. A few of these clients required minimum design work, certainly not enough to keep a young and determined creative designer challenged and gainfully employed.

So a few months into the job, I set about convincing the other members we needed a unique identity, a general brochure/typesetting style guide poster and a professional stationery package for attracting new clients. We had to convey good design skills, technical capabilities and the dexterity to handle all aspects of work for print or display and hopefully a pay cheque for all, commensurate to all the new clients we would draw to our door.

So Baselines first identity (colophon) was born, a combination of typesetting, hand drawing – using rapidographs – solid paste-up skills and the ability to test the artwork at all the necessary sizes using the stat camera. We did a small market test with existing clients, internalized changes and alternatives as a team and finally sent our print ready artwork, via courier, to press with a prayer.

All the marketing items, double-sided, single fold business cards, stationery, poster and brochure would be printed using 3-pms colours plus black, an expensive affair in 1985. I slowly added larger and more rewarding design assignments, fully utilizing our internal capabilities and always proudly handing out my unique business card when the opportunity presented itself.

Clouds were brewing though, and the advent of what derogatorily would become known as desktop publishing started to creep into view as the next big thing in the graphic design and production business. That will have to be another blog, but it dramatically changed Baseline from being a 12-member, multi-talented company to two members, David Lach and Ian Bateson, to ponder the adoption and huge learning curve the new fledgling desktop technology would demand of us, if we wanted a part of the brave new world.

All logo’s, photo’s, illustrations are copyright© registered® or trademarked™ by their respective owners.


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The 1993 Yeltsin-Clinton Summit.

It was April 1993, the first formal meeting between Yeltsin and Clinton, to further United States and Russian cooperation on many bilateral issues. The intent of this historic Vancouver Summit was to form the groundwork for a declaration pledged by the two sides to uphold “a dynamic and effective United States-Russian partnership.” Canada was to act as host under the then Federal Conservative party and then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Baseline was approached by Corina Acheson a senior sales rep at Benwell Atkins, now with Hemlock Printers, with the opportunity to partner on a bid to design, produce and print the graphic identity and collateral for this event. They won the bid and by default we were thrown into an initial two week design frenzy, first to provide initial layouts for the identity of the event and subsequently design and produce identity applications, style and layouts for; delegates (journalist in the main), and dignitaries welcoming packages, programmes, backdrops, signage and day-to-day communication pieces.

The latter, day-to-day communication pieces, presented the largest challenge back in 1993. No internet connections, no FTP sites for quick delivery of files between writers, design layout artists and press, no quick pdf proofs and on demand colour digital print capabilities for proofing or direct-to-plate stochastic printing. Every step required a physical time consuming process to accommodate these steps to final product. The courier business flourished and each of those five days ended at 2:00am.

Whilst I feverishly took charge of client design requirements, the look and feel of all the collateral, my partner of 25 years, David Lach, took charge of sourcing an appropriate cyrillic font for the Russian language editions, prepare appropriate style sheets in Quark for the anticipated 110% larger French translations and the same for the 120% increase in character count for the Russian. David was also busy preparing an offsite Baseline office at Canada Place to process the daily input from the English reporters, coordinate the French and Russian translators, and put in place a means to trafficking all this activity back to home office for typesetting, proofing and plate-ready film output, ready for delivery to Benwell Atkins for imprinting onto the pre-printed four colour templates.

Each day’s events had to be reported, typeset and printed as a finished newsletter within 12-hours and delivered to all delegates by 6:00pm in front of their hotel rooms.

All logo’s, photo’s, illustrations are copyright© registered® or trademarked™ by their respective owners.

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Baseline celebrates 25 plus years in the business of graphic design

David Steiner, Programmer, is missing from this shot.

4 of the five Baseline gang

This is our first blog, which will act more as an introduction to who we are, what we offer and how we hope to make this site a place of interest with observations in general and tips from our 25 years plus history of working as graphic communicators.

Our history began in the days of marker layouts, rapidograph art, phototypesetting, light tables, paste-up, and the stat camera. We were a 12 member group, all specialists in preparation of “art for print” from designer, type setter, to paste-up monkey, the rather derogatory name given to what was the most important person and last step to the final camera ready art.

Fast forward ten years and I had the dubious honour of being given the first Mac SE30, three programs and the accompanying 300 page manuals, for each program to fathom, in time to meet a client deadline of one month (yes a month seems like a long time these days). The SE30 required a huge amount of patience and fortitude to operate, working in Photoshop on a file not much bigger than 150 mgs could afford you a 5-minute coffee break once you pressed saved.

There are still times when I personally look back fondly, but the Mac and the array of programs we have at our fingertips makes this business still very exciting.

25 years on, we are now a 5-member group, with specialties in design, programming and production for print and the web. Meet some of the people pictured. David Lach, Senior Programmer, Ian Bateson, Creative Director, Andrew Ware, Senior Production Artist, and Marian Lau, Production Manager, missing from this photo is David Steiner, Code and Programmer extraordinaire.

All logo’s, photo’s, illustrations are copyright© registered® or trademarked™ by their respective owners.

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