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How Steve Jobs Changed Advertising One Person at a Time
Editor’s note: This blog post from Glenn came in response to a question we posed to our veteran Creatives about the impact Macintosh had on their careers. If you’d like to read the responses from our writers and artists, please see “The Impact of Creative Thinking on the Creative Process” in issue two of the GodwinGroup newsletter, Godwin360. In this post, you’ll read about how the rise of the Mac led Glenn from an art degree to his current role as digital strategist.
When I was a junior in college, back in ’87-88, I was an art student at Mississippi State University and desperately needed a job. My roommate at the time worked at the Student Union, back in a corner called The PC Place in the school bookstore where they sold computers such as IBM PS2s. When he heard about my need, he inquired and found out they needed help. So, the next day I went in and met with his boss and got hired. Not only that, but when my new boss found out I was a graphic design major, he handed me the advertising budget for the year and said I could feel free to use whatever I needed to get the marketing done. He mentioned that they’d just gotten in some new computers and a new printer that was amazing, and if I learned them, it might make doing some of this work easier.
Those new machines were an Apple Macintosh Plus, an Apple Macintosh SE, and an Apple Macintosh II. The printer was the first consumer-grade Apple laser printer (it was, I think, the first laser printer, period) which, when you were comparing it to dot matrix, just destroyed the competition. So I took manuals home, and over nights, weekends, and afternoons at work, I learned how to work ’em; they were without a doubt, the most amazing things I’d ever had the joy to play with. I was using Aldus Pagemaker 1 and Adobe Illustrator 88 (mostly), and after a few weeks, I was churning out stuff that was blowing away the paste-up department in the Union. Because we didn’t have to spec type for layouts and could produce essentially camera-ready stuff (for us anyway), our outside costs dropped through the floor, and we were able to do more that year than any in recent memory of my boss.
While all this was going on, I asked my boss if I could use this same equipment to help with my art projects, and he was more than happy to let me after all we’d done so far with his marketing. I started doing all of my layout and typography work on the Mac, and it wasn’t long before I’d be in a class critique and the professors would stop in front of my work mid-sentence—and then get up close to it to try to see how I’d done it. It totally freaked them out. I didn’t have any pen pulls, hickies, or bumps anywhere; all the lines were perfectly smooth, and the kerning was tight and uniformed. I started telling them about the computers I was using to do the work, and they wanted to see more. By the end of that semester, my professors loved the Mac work, and my classmates hated it. My typography professor took me aside because I was taking his advanced typography class during the next year and told me flat out that, using the computer, I was already well beyond what he would normally teach in the execution area. The laser printer was just too perfect. The department was also getting a Mac Plus for the next year, and he said that he’d appreciate it if I helped him teach the technical side of type on the Mac to my classmates, and in return he’d help me more on the design side outside of class (unconnected to my grade). I took him up on it, and that’s how I really got kick-started into graphic design.
When I graduated and began looking for a job, the fact that I could already run Macs was a major advantage over the rest of the graduates I ran into, and this advantage helped me jump into a job not long after being in the market. I had to do the same thing I did in college—take home manuals to learn new programs over the weekend (Quark 2.0 was one), but the Macs made the programs extremely easy to pick up. The menus were in mostly the same place, so it wasn’t exactly like learning a new program but more like learning where a new program puts the same features.
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if it wasn’t for the Mac, I wouldn’t have ended up with anything close to the same career I have now. Discovering those machines was a pivotal point in my education, and being able to get unlimited time on them “way back when” was a much bigger gift that I realized at the time. So a heartfelt thank you and prayer goes out for Steve Jobs, because I owe him more than words can express.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]