The Impact of the Computer on Graphic Designers

"As Gerald Lang has wisely observed, the computer is not a tool but it is a simulator of tools. One of the things it simulates is a typesetting machine. With the spread of the personal computer, millions of people have found themselves transformed into simulations of typesetters, whether or not they wished to be so." 1


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Once "desktop publishing" was mainstreamed there was quantum shift in the role of the graphic designer. Many design support services closed or converted to the digital technology. Graphic designers were forced to take on the roles of typesetting and pre-press production, formerly not their responsibility. The graphic designer's hand skills were surpassed by the need for digital expertise.

Designers were now required to spend thousands of dollars on constantly updating hardware and software. They must continually upgrade their skills --now at the mercy of the industries they helped promote.


“Traditionally production used to be a barrier for designers, but now the computer, a tool for both design and production, has become the gateway.”





As Johanna Drucker has pointed out "The tools of the designer were confused with the skills of the designer...The accessibility of production tools undercut the design profession since "anyone" could make a flier or a brochure." Ellen Lupon during her Visionary Woman Award discussion at Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, 2012.



A Short History of the Printed Word,
Robert Bringhurst & Warren Chappell, Hartley & Marks, 1999.