Where to start. Is it with what’s happening with the Authors’ Club and my reviews of Best First Novel Award contenders? Or is it where the Draftsman is in the Unbound publishing process (they’re doing design and edits)? Or who Laurel Lindström is (nobody really knows)? Or is it the familiar territory of graphics production technology? Ultimately that’s where I am most comfortable, but it’s also the world I am slowly turning away from, slowly and with considerable anxiety. Or is that world slowly turning away from me?
Starting in Malibu and ending in Eastbourne (yes, Eastbourne)
The beginning of this long and rewarding writerly career was on Cliffside Drive, Malibu, California, deep in the heart of the graphics industry way back in 1980. It started with a police car and a three month assignment for Jonathan Seybold and turned into a fourteen year spectacular before going tits up. Thank you to Agfa Graphics’ Marc Tinkler (now someone terribly important with Epson) for then commissioning me to write a 1000 word article for interface, their inhouse magazine. I can’t remember what the piece was about, but I do remember the £250 I was paid for it (freelancers always stay hungry). And thanks too to top trade mag Printing World’s Scott Beagrie, the then features editor and now a successful freelancer himself. Scott commissioned me to write 5000 words on colour repro systems. It took me an agonising and unnecessarily long six weeks to research and complete. But the end result earnt a lavish sum: £700+ I think. More importantly, it gave Laurel Brunner a profile in the printing and publishing industry as a freelance writer and journalist. From 1994 to date, I have been paid to write about graphics industry technology. Much more importantly I have had a life that has been and remains nothing short of amazing.
From wow to blah blah
Over recent decades the graphics industry has changed dramatically, so much so that now there is little challenge to understanding how stuff works, how well it works or whether it’s worth the investment risk. Today, with a handful of exceptions, there is pretty much no great investment risk especially in software. Hardware is cheap and plentiful, foundation technologies are proven and robust, and apart from a few renegade recidivists, inventors who might once have served the graphics industry are busy elsewhere.
Technological advances have been astonishing since well before 1994. Those colour repro systems I agonised over and finally wrote about a mere 26 (magic number, I’ll explain one day) years ago cost upwards of £10,000 a pop for the basic system. And they were cheap compared to the £100,000+ proprietary systems that preceded them. Today most, if not all and more, of what they did can be done in Adobe Photoshop. And for the £50 monthly subscription you also get InDesign for page layout and Acrobat for making perfect PDFs, plus Illustrator, Premiere Pro and XD (it’s for user interface design). Yes you might struggle at first to use these tools, but the online support ecosystem will sort you out for free. Quite a departure from the costs associated with the publishing front end systems way back in 1980.
Looking back risks a cricked neck and a stumble off the edge, so my view remains ever forwards, ever broader and ever wider. It’s about keeping up with technology and writing about it whenever there is something interesting to say. And it’s about inventing my own interesting stories, starting with now, here on this site, where someone called Laurel Lindström is telling new tales, while holding very tight to Laurel Brunner’s clammy inkstained hand.