Blast from the Past: Rough to Ready

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Blast from the Past mines the back catalogue of Applied Arts Magazine to revive articles from years gone by. It’s our attempt at bringing to light the figures, firms and events that shaped the Canadian visual communications industry. Revisiting the stories and giants of yesteryear gives us an appreciation of where we came from and, perhaps, an indication of where we’re heading.

This feature article looked at the varied role that computers played during their introduction to ad agencies in the early 1990s. It was published in the Winter 1990 issue of the magazine.

Pierre Drouin has a dream. One day, he hopes to have computers throughout FOUG, his small Montreal advertising agency. “If every writer and art director were to get a computer at his desk,” muses Drouin, “that’s the best thing that could happen to an agency. That’s what I’m working for here.” Brian Harrod, however, of Harrod & Mirlin in Toronto, does not share the same aspiration. “I’m certainly not of the mind to have one on everyone’s desk,” he says, laughing. “It might frighten the life out of them, and they’d run right out of here!”

When it comes to doing creative work with personal computers, one art director’s dream is the next’s nightmare. And just as industry attitudes toward the technology vary greatly, so do the uses to which it is put. They range from doing thumbnail sketches to preparing comps, to producing final ads. McGill Productions, the in-house studio of MacLaren: Lintas, turns out finished slides for presentations in its computer graphics department, which has $200,000 worth of state-of-the-art equipment. On the other end of the spectrum, J. Walter Thompson’s studio does low-end typesetting with a $16,000 Amiga system. Read the full article.

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