Monday, July 1, 2013
It's been about six months since I last blogged about Wersi - and in particular the Alpha DX 300, the first of their new line of digital organ/synthesizer hybrids. Or at least that is what I kinda feel these keyboards are trying to be, based on the photos and the ad-copy.
The Condor DX 100 was the second instrument to get an advertisement in Keyboard, running monthly from August to December 1984.
Because I know so little about Wersi, I've kinda tried to ignore this whole line of keyboards. I'm just uncomfortable writing about them. But as I was flipping through the Thomson Twins/Tom Bailey-filled August 1984 issue of Keyboard, as I often do, the design of this advertisement made me stop in my tracks.
First - all that luscious blue. With full-colour ads slowly taking over the historically black-and-white back-half of the magazine, this one stands out with its punch of solid blue, along with the white text on black.
Second - the angles. When I'm short on time (or just feeling dang lazy), scanning an advertisement that's already on an angle means I don't have to be as vigilant to try to straighten it out. And then I realized that there was good chance that the guy laying out the ad in the magazine was thinking this too, because if you look at the top right side of the ad, you can see some measurement markings - as if the ad hadn't been lined up properly.
They aren't your standard crop and bleed markings you would normally include in today's ads, but then again, I wasn't creating ads back in the early 80s, so who knows what kind of markings they used. Plus, this ad is so far ahead of its time design-wise that I wouldn't be surprised if the designer did that on purpose.
And that brings me to my third and most important reason that the design of this ad is crazy-stupid good. I'm talking pure 80s punk rock/new wave-influenced goodness, unlike anything else appearing in the magazine at the time.
Not convinced? Hear me out.
Let's start with the black background behind the text - in particular in that title. Whether on purpose or not, I find the design of the title reminiscent of the text produced from a Dymo-style label maker. You know, the machine that would punch out white text on a black or dark coloured background.
Machines like it were big in the 80s with anal retentive office workers. But they were also commonly used by bands when creating distinctive angry-looking DYI flyers and posters.
Those flyers would also often use cut-out photos as well as text/letters from various magazines, pasting all these pieces together into what I found to be artwork masterpieces.
This style of design was so distinctive that its almost a prerequisite for any of today's alternative 80's compilation CDs to somehow reference all these design elements when creating the artwork for their covers.See example at right. :)
To me, it looks like this design style evolved along with the music, over time slowly removing the clutter and creating cleaner lines. Kraftwerk and New Order come to mind as good examples. And it became even cleaner once desktop publishing became common place and the word "font" became a household name. Glue and photocopies were replaced with cut and paste commands and laser printers.
So, to me, the cropped-out image of the DX 100 instrument and the two boxes of ad-copy (unequal in length), together with the label-maker-like title, not-so-quietly scream new-waves 80s. It's exactly what I would expect from a Kraftwerk-influenced designer who was creating an ad for a German company from the time period. :)
Interestingly, I'm finding this punky style is making a bit of a comeback in some surprising circles. The first, probably unrelated but still kinda cool to point out, is with the HTML code for highlighting text . I've seen a few good Web designers put this to great punky-label-maker-looking effect in some modern Web sites.
But, for me, the more surprising place I've spot this punk-rock DYI influence is with the evolution of design in scrapbooking. Maybe its just the punk-rock girls growing up and getting into scrapbooking. Who knows. But I see it everywhere.
Seriously - scrapbooking has become hardcore. If you don't believe me, I'll just end this blog post with this little comparison :)