At the age of 81, the American graphic designer William H. Bradley wrote a casual memoir for his fellow members of the Typophiles, a social club for men in the printing industry. Written in the second person, Bradley covers his early years learning to set type and then, design posters.
“The Iron Ore print shop is on the ground floor. The editor’s sanctum is at the front. His desk is at the big window. It is nearly nine o’clock on a Friday night—”makeup” time. Mr. Newett has written his last sheets of copy and is reading proof. At the corner of Main and Division, diagonally across from the office, a fakir is selling soap. In one wrapper he pretends to place a five dollar bill—a version of the “old army game.”
He is standing in a market wagon and has a companion who strums a guitar and sings. Attached to an upright and above his head is a kerosene flare. Mr. Newett walks leisurely to where there are several guns and fishing rods in a corner. He is an inveterate sportsman in a land where game, deer and fish, is plentiful. Selecting a rifle he walks to the door and casually puts a bullet through the kerosene tank, then returns to his proof reading. Thoroughly-likeable, this pioneer editor—a fine boss, a true friend!
You and a compositor now have control of the town bill posting. When there is no theatre paper or patent medicine ads to put up you cover the boards with blank newsprint and letter and picture advertisements for the stores, or what you will.
You are sixteen, almost seventeen. A sheet of newsprint is tacked on the printing-office wall and, using marking ink and a brush, you are picturing and lettering a masquerade poster for the roller rink.”
A brief supplement offers additional details of Bradley’s work chronology, including his time in Hollywood.