Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My boss Tom.

Years ago when I was in college, I was asked to fill in for a friend at the local billboard company. He was getting married and the company just needed an extra warm body to help out around the office. The gig was only for a few weeks but I was introduced to my boss, Tom. He was an artist from another generation. He showed up in a suit and tie every day. He'd light up a stogie from time to time. He had amazing stories about his young days in the business. But most importantly he was patient with me. He taught me the business, how to be quick and effective. To this day I still hold a Design marker just like he taught me when it came to single stroking typography.

For the short time I was there, I was taught how to utilize their stat camera, set type, and be Tom's runner down to the guys on the paint floor where they would take his sketches and layouts to be projected onto a billboard. It was magical to see the guys take a small drawing/ photograph, enlarge it up to size and project it onto rolled out sheets of paper. They would "draw" the images with an electrically charged pencil that would perforate small holes into the rolled paper. Once the sketch was "drawn" onto the paper, the rolls would be then unfurled onto the actual billboard sections. A charcoal pounce bag would be used to dab and transfer the image via the small pinholes left on the paper.

The painters would then spend the next few days painting the image onto the billboard and building any extensions that would go beyond the edges. Once the paint dried, the assembly team would de-construct the billboard, load it up into their trucks, drive out, and re-assemble the board on location.

It was a magical few weeks working with Tom. He never meant to be intimidating but he was to this twenty something kid as the business was brand new to me. Tom even let me design a PGA billboard during my short stint there that was erected on I-75. It wasn't anything spectacular by any measure but it was nice to see something I worked on make it to print and to that scale too.

I still think of Tom fondly and can almost smell that cigar smoke in the air. He was a good guy.