In 1982, Generic Type began as a print production shop in a large warehouse complex, which later became the Hollis Street Project, in Emeryville, California. Steel mills, industrial warehouses, and artist studios peppered the commercial areas of the East Bay in those days.
Climbing rickety stairs to a second story studio, our reception area had a walk-in concrete safe with a 12" thick metal door complete with a combination lock and handle. This was used as the dark room and housed an Argyle stat camera and photo processor, which smelled faintly of photographic fixer. The decor could only be described as generic with black and white desks and a black vinyl sofa piped in white with chrome legs and arms. The production room was lined with drafting tables stocked with Exacto knives, turquoise copyediting pens, pica rulers, rolls of rubylith, tape dispensers, and t-squares. The long production tables were covered with tabloid flats printed with light blue grids. Typeset galleys were hanging here and there as they dried. The typesetting equipment evolved from encoded punch tape to photographic disks (looking much like 45 records) with each font having its own disk to install. We thought we were on the cutting edge.
Within a few years, we were producing six monthly magazines and cultivating working relationships with a growing number of local businesses. Using a trained design sense and a keen attention to detail, we've worked with art directors, advertising agencies, publishers, printers, project managers, and a variety of businesses who chose or needed to outsource their marketing projects.
In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, technology changed from photo-typesetting and print production to digital media. We traded our Exacto blades, drafting tables, and waxers for a mouse and a screen. Photo-typography became laser imagesetting. Stat cameras became obsolete to flatbed and digital scanners. Creating halftones, making masks, cutting rubyliths, and a host of other photographic effects became possible through PhotoShop. The tools for editing files, mocking up designs, and laying out pages were literally at our fingertips. The learning curve became less steep as we mastered layout and image manipulation programs. The cutting edge, it turns out, continually changes.
What does not seem to change is the relationships that are built through working together as a team. Being of service is the bottom line of the service industry. Helping our clients bring their ideas to fruition is how we both succeed.