This post is short and sweet, but I just wanted to share that today I scored a Wedgefield 600 Electric Typewriter. It’s hard to think of why I’ve wanted one for quite some time now, but when I came upon it for only $10 in perfect working condition I just couldn’t pass it up. After typing on it for a little under and hour so far today it certainly isn’t the most ergonomically comfortable machine ever designed an it has also revealed the ugly reality of how many mistakes I make when typing. All in all, I think it’s going to be fun to see how I can work it into projects and eventually using it to write “personal” notes to people.
There’s a much debated story of how Helvetica truly came to be. Regardless of it’s back story, it’s hard to deny how much of an impact it has had on our designed world. Helvetica was created by Max Meidinger in Münchenstein, Switzerland in 1957. You can find the lengthy (mostly true) story here. For those of you who are truly interested in the history and impact of Helvetica, there is even a documentary film about it, which in my opinion, is excellent. To give my regards to the famed typeface, I decided to make a poster for my office that told the story of Helvetica all contained within the Swiss Cross.
From a distance the poster just looks like it is faintly printed, but upon closer inspection the story is clearly legible, albeit quite small. It was a fun to work at getting the type size and leading just the proper size to create the cross, yet not manipulate the story to make it fit.
Working at The Ridge, there is a need to promote different events or to print signage in a larger format than your average 11″x17″ poster. For years, prior to my being the graphic designer for them, they had been using an Epson 3000 which can print a max width of 17″ (not edge to edge, so actually 16.5″) and a max length (despite the fact that it was a roll printer) of 44″. So as you may realize, the size of my printing ability was rather throttled.
However, that wouldn’t be a terrible situation if the Epson 3000 printer worked well and had no issues, but this was not the case.
To keep the list brief, the Epson 3000 not only has only a Serial Port I/O, but is incompatible with the Mac OSX operating system which is what I use to create all the graphics. Also, it had to be babysat and made sure to not get the paper to bunch up on it’s pesky little paper tray, else you would end up with a sweet “accordion effect” on your prints. In the case that you needed to do multiple prints at once, good luck. if left unattended, the odds of it putting ink smears or blots on your prints at random unpredictable intervals were so good I’d bet my money 500 to 1.
If none or all of these symptoms have occurred, then chances are you’re going to get a full page of random WingDing-like characters printed out for your amusement as if the printer was saying, “I know your print is what you would/should have expected, but I thought you’d want to be able to see the wide array of zesty characters that could be at your disposal if you would just use wingdings on your next project.” Oh, and if you thought that the printer could be convinced that there is paper in the paper tray, you’re wrong. There is no convincing it. You have to trick it into thinking it has paper in it, like trying to get your dog to go into the garage when you need to leave by squeaking its favorite toy and throwing it in there like you’re going to spend the afternoon blissfully wrestling together. Yet, as soon as he’s a millimeter past the threshold you hit him in the butt with the door with a swift breeze that almost sweeps the smirk of accomplishment off your face. Needless to say, the 3000 was extremely unpredictable and frustratingly time consuming to print anything. In addition, given it’s print size constraints, to create anything larger than it’s limitations you would need a tall order of some good ol’ cutting, taping, and pasting of print pieces. The best part of all, is it is slow as Christmas. At a mind-blowing 1ft./hour you’re gonna need a good time wasting game on your iPhone while you’re babysitting this troubled lil’ tike. Ya, it was the kind of bliss that’s similar to pounding your head against a cinderblock wall…
So once my threshold of frustration and patience was surpassed, the motions were set in place to move towards getting a new solution that not only would be a replacement, but a step into the next direction of planning for the future and broadening our horizons of printing potential. After many conversations, research, research, budget adjustments, and more research, I landed on the Epson 9880 as the best solution for our current and future needs. Some things I was looking for were to be able to print on many kinds of media (including vinyl or Tyvek), at least 44″ of printable space (edge to edge), straight printing feed (for poster-board), auto cutting, unlimited linear printing length, color accuracy, Mac OSX compatibility, etc., to name a few.
So far, the Epson 9880 has been amazing. I know there are higher cost solutions out there, but for the money we invested, I can’t express to you how happy I am with it. The setup was a cinch, loading ink cartridges, calibration, driver setup was all seamless. The prints are beautiful, and holy crap it’s fast. So far, I’ve only had the chance to print about a dozen or so pieces with it, but what has transpired so far has been glorious. I will continue to post updates as to what I learn through more and more experience with the printer, and will keep blogging about my successes and shortcomings.
Have you ever had frustration with equipment like this, but then were so relieved by its replacement you can’t even fathom how you endured the predecessor for so long? Do tell in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.