Today we have a 1987 Tylenol magazine ad. It’s an infographic that shows the “hospital usage of Tylenol” by year, and how it has grown over the previous decade. It’s a fine example of the way graphics in advertising used to work. Seen below, you’ll note the use of real Tylenol pills used to make the graph. The bottle in front of it was more-than-likely cut out of a photograph very carefully and pasted over the print of pills in order to complete the image. Have a look.
The amount of time and effort put into this particular example was definitely immense, not to mention the time spent developing the idea before creating it. I imagine it was a fairly large undertaking. In fact, that is the reason quality graphic designers and typesetters were so highly paid and in demand. It was difficult to find someone that could do the job they did at a high level. When they were found, they were paid to stay.
Graphic design looks a little different in the modern era. We use tools like Photoshop and Illustrator to produce highly stunning visual pieces for print and web, often times working tirelessly to make something artificially created appear real. If I produced the Tylenol graphic using today’s technology, the image of the pill would have been created in a program and duplicated instead of placed and photographed. Even if I did photograph the pill, I would only take a shot of a single, then make copies where I need them.
Technology has allowed two great things in the world of graphic design. The first is that graphic designers can complete the same project in greatly reduced time, allowing them to complete more projects more often. The second, and much more interesting, is that the quality of the project can be greatly improved. We now have the ability to create fantastic worlds, characters, and objects using stunning visual effects previously only available from specialty companies. Often times we can take the simplest picture produced from a smartphone and transform it into something remarkably different in a matter of hours.
How has technology grown in your field? Let us know in the comments and we may want to feature you in a future Throwback Thursday article!