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About My Experience as an Ad Agency Professional Typographer.

Dave Botma Resume Head

Having worked in the advertising industry for over 30 years, I’ve seen a lot of change. My first advertising experience was as a production artist, or keyliner, working for a small suburban agency. We used to send our marked-up copy to our type house via a “Quip”—I doubt that very many people even remember those devices. The type that came back was on what we called “RCs,” which stood for the resin-coated paper it was printed on.

The years I’ve spent in this industry have allowed many opportunities to develop creatively. Over time I've done:

Brochure and Ad Design
Logo Design
Book Design

However, it wasn’t until I was hired as a Michigan Avenue ad agency Studio Manager that my training as a professional typographer started. This studio had its own command-line typesetting equipment, and typesetting training actually began on that equipment as we developed kern tables for the somewhat limited font collections we had. However, it is entirely possible that the greater typographic training came as we worked on the mechanical keyline assemblies we built and revised for the ad agencies we serviced. It was then that we learned to knife apart the type etches, hand-kerning letter pairs.

It was precisely because of this laborious process that I immediately took to the Mac when it came out. No longer would I have to worry about small letters falling off boards or shifting, because now we could get it right—on computer.

Well, in the early days of Quark and Pagemaker, circa 1986, that was easier said than done. All kerning still had to be done a pair at a time. Sure, it was now being done digitally and there were no concerns of the work being damaged because someone left it in their trunk and the adhesive softened, but it was still labor-intensive, and copy revisions could easily undo hours of time spent kerning.

It wasn’t until I was brought in to set up and run the in-house typesetting studio at Cramer-Krasselt Advertising, the Michigan Avenue agency, that I learned a better, more efficient and, most importantly, more consistent way of doing this. It was while I was working on an annual report for Chicago Title Insurance Company that I discovered not only that Quark had the ability to allow local kerning, but that you could access the underlying font kern tables. Kerning in this way allowed every instance of a pair to be kerned simultaneously! Even better, as revisions came in almost hourly, we were able to pour in copy and have the kerns stick! In fact the utility, built right into Quark, also had an export function which we would use to export the tables and library right onto our file server.

It was this wonderful capability of Quark’s that led us to add to the studio a separate small division of typographic professionals dedicated to developing kern tables. Using Kerning Table Editor, we were able to kern documents professionally in seconds and to produce unmatched quality, on time, while saving our clients money!

This site is dedicated to helping the industry create the typographic excellence that we were able to achieve.

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