Sunday, September 25, 2016

Old-fashioned cut and paste

I am an old fashioned cut and paste girl when it comes to making.

At times, I wish I were a modern graphic designer girl who could do all the whizz-bangery that would see my plans and designs appear magically and perfectly on the screen; that would let me move things around and change colours and the look and feel of everything.

But alas no, I am not that woman. And I don't really think I will ever be - I doubt I have the energy to study and learn in depth what I would need to know in order to do this.

So instead, I sit, I draw, I cut, I paste. I move things around. I stick things together and I blu-tac them to the windows!

This work is all part of the design work for the windows of a new building in Melbourne.

I am learning heaps as I basically design and then commercialise my work. As ever, my work is slow and I sit and I think, and I calculate and measure and plan and hope and test and try and ....

In  a while I will know if it all works!

I wrote some words and placed them on pages indicative of the size of the windows then laid them out on the studio floor to check.

Then I stuck a few on the windows to check size and how they looked.

Then I moved back to the house to do the serious number-crunching!

And laid them out on the floor there - this time having prepared pages that were the exact size of each window (each window is a different size) and added diamonds to break up the words and make them easier to read. Part A is about having two lines of words running across the seven windows

You can see how I even cut and pasted the paper to make the background pages the right size!

And then it was back to measuring and calculating. I have to create a printing schedule - advising the printers how long/tall each word should be printed at. This is after I wrote every word out, scanned it saved, it cleaned it up and then taught myself how to vectorise it so that I can send the files to the printers and they can cut the lettering out.

Part B of the job  involves having other words scattered through the rest of the windows, so it was back to drawing up seven windows, writing out the words, cutting them to scale....

Laying them out to get a feel for the spacial balance, the word length balance, the height balance and the 'having the right words in the right place' kind of balance as well.

And then I measured how high above the centre and how far below the centre each word should be - and how far in from the left hand hand side of the window. I need to send the printer a placement-layout Schedule as well as they will attaching the words to the windows and I want them to put them in the right place. Lots of detailed measurements and writing.

These are all my sketches and notes to myself - next I have to type up and prepare the schedules for both Part A and Part B - four schedules. I am sure it will all happen if I am patient, take my time and double-check everything.

If I was doing a proper and through step by step of the process, there would be another 3 blog posts needed to capture it all I think - I just thought to myself a lot about cutting and pasting as I did this work and thought I'd share my old fashioned ways!


  1. Replies
    1. Not much mystery in the process Mo - just lots of fiddling and calculating and hits and misses! Still it's always fun to see behind the scenes isn't it? Go well.

  2. Thank you for sharing your process. There is something (a lot) to be said for having the skill to do such work by hand and sight.

    1. Thanks Peggy - that's a nice way of thinking of it. I realise I need to see things to react to them, to go with my gut on their placement and the spaces between. I'm not too bad at composition but I need to see and respond to the space...go well.

  3. this is a terrific post - and I can absolutely relate even though I suppose I'm a gal who has had a foot in both worlds --- I started as a fine artist (lots of mess) and I used to work as a ye-olde-worlde graphic designer (pre-computer days --- using photo typesetters, bromide camera and lots of rubber cement!) then became a calligrapher (lots of ink and paper) THEN I blended things together when I got my very first mac (early 1990s - it was second hand... still cost over $2000 and had 8MB of pure power baby!) - I added a B&W scanner (these cost almost $1000 in the early '90s... ) a B&W laser printer (another $1000) and (this is the killer) a magnificent Roland cutter/plotter (it was almost $10 000 .... gulp) --- THEN I had to make them all talk to each other... according the the aussie Roland folk, no one had made my weird collection of gadgets work using a Mac with Adobe products (yes I'm talking all geeky --- but this is how I got to be geeky.... feet first with a loan to pay off!)

    soooooo in the quest to get it all to work, and not starve in the process, I got the Mac to run the Roland (this produced the most EXTRAORDINARY large scale perfect line images or, with the blade attached, cut paper/vinyl etc.... think HUGE perfect letters or images -- these may have started life as tiny hand-drawn versions.... get the idea?) ....

    for a small amount of time, by sheer accident and ignorance (I didn't know enough to know that it was impossible...), I had the most powerful and amazing combo that output PERFECT vector artwork....

    even though this was almost 25 years ago, there still isn't a system that can create a more accurate version of things (just faster, cheaper, bigger, etc) ....

    but in the end I found that I'm not suited to commercial or even commissioned work -- I sold everything and went back to ink and paper... the geek me didn't re-emerge until later... and I still now I prefer to do things au naturale

    (ooooo I've written a novel here ---- soz!)

    1. Sounds amazing Ronnie! And what huge investment that all was. Every now and again I get graphic-design envy and think I want to too it and then I realise that it's so much about the computer and so little about the hand most of the time that I just can't. So here I am still cutting and pasting away merrily!

  4. so enjoyed reading all this fiona. a terrific project, seems very complicated to me. i recently did a little thing to go into the copy machine, pasted together, you know, and out came a perfectly fine copy...there was a "young person" nearby who was amazed, she'd never seen anything NOT made on the computer!

    1. Oh I love that story Velma! Each generation has their own go to, tried and true methodology don't they? It is truly a very complicated task but I am going gently and slowly and patiently which really really helps! Go well.

  5. What a complex job. Technology has its place but I agree, a real size mock up is the best way to get the placing and the feel right. Looking forward to seeing the finished windows.

    1. Thanks Jac - A screen just doesn't give me the right feel so it's down on the floor and drawing up scales and moving them around! Still a way to go, but edging closer...


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