History Lesson

February 5, 2009

In 1988 when I started my desktop publishing company, it was just around the time the concept of a “personal computer” was really taking off. People were starting to have computers in their homes, instead of exclusively in businesses or large corporations. It was truly a paradigm shift in the technology, and it gave the individual more power than ever before to produce printed documents.

This was a wonderful thing — people had a choice of fonts and type sizes, and they could create flyers, brochures, menus, invitations, banners, and any number of other items for their personal and small business use, without having to go to a printer to design and print them. They saved both time and money. Power to the people!

However, as with anything else, power corrupts. In this instance, the power to use the 20-30 fonts that came with their new personal computer created a sometimes irresistible desire to use ALL of those fonts in one document. They had them, so they wanted to show them off or just play with their new toy. And the dot-matrix printers that were common at the time didn’t help, either — pale, blocky text definitely didn’t enhance the document’s appearance!

So when I started my company, I had a vision and purpose in mind. I very deliberately named my company Precision Typesetting, and my mantra from the very beginning was this: No more ugly documents!

I was determined not to contribute to the growing pile of computer-generated eyesores that I was beginning to notice all around me. I had never had any formal graphic arts training (there was none available in those days), but had always been an artistic and creative person. I seemed to have a knack for creating printed pages with a harmonious sense of balance and style. I paid almost obsessive attention to details like centering and margins, as well as the restrained use of type to convey the proper tone and “voice” of the document to reflect the message the customer intended to present.

I had been producing a bi-weekly newspaper for awhile, and the owner (who was also the ad salesperson) recommended me to her advertisers as a resource for their graphic arts needs. My client base spread from there solely through word-of-mouth, and in the four years I was in business full-time, I never once had to pay for advertising promotion. My reputation as an “expert” in computer graphics later landed me a job with a Fortune 500 company; however, I still kept some customers from Precision Typesetting, and did a limited amount of freelance typesetting. Amazingly enough, today (20+ years later), I still create graphics for three of those customers!

Unfortunately, due to an ill-advised incorporation of my business just before switching into the corporate world and failing to dissolve that corporation for many years, I can no longer do business under the name of Precision Typesetting (may it rest in peace). So as of 2010, the official name of my typesetting and web design company is now OK Type — an easy-to-remember name chosen to reflect my Oklahoma roots.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for small and start-up companies, and my mantra is still the same — no more ugly documents!

If I can help you present your best face to your customers and to the world, please review the work samples in my online portfolio and give me a call at 405.205.7211.

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