It is finally up.

Image of man on prepress floor

I have a favorite pic­ture of my grand­fa­ther, Thomas G. Howell.

He and I are play­ing with a trac­tor in the floor. His hands are dirty, not uncom­mon for a man of his era. I never really under­stood where the black that filled the crevices of his fin­ger­nails orig­i­nated. My grand­fa­ther died when I was about seven. I was too upset to go to the funeral, but I do remem­ber vis­it­ing his grave. I think he is amused that I went to all of this trou­ble to high­light some­thing he did every day.

My grand­fa­ther was a type­set­ter. He began his career at the Still­wa­ter News­Press and ended it some years later at the Ada Evening News. Dur­ing that time, the basic tech­nol­ogy of the day, print­ing with lead type, remained the same as in Guten­berg’s era. It was start­ing to wain in 1978. Who would have known how much the design and print­ing world would change. Its amaz­ing what time can do, give or take twenty years either way. Com­pare his lead type to the high end pro­duc­tion tool I learned in col­lege, which is less func­tional than my kids’ iPod Touch is today. And then you have this. The inter­net needs no introduction.

Many years after my grand­fa­ther’s death, I became inter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy, and then design though my expe­ri­ence in year­book dur­ing my mid­dle school grades. I began to learn some of the details of typog­ra­phy and set­ting type. I left for col­lege, changed majors, only to return to design. Even­tu­ally I earned an MFA in visual com­mu­ni­ca­tions. It was there I finally returned to the knowl­edge of my grand­fa­ther. I was con­fused in learn­ing typog­ra­phy dur­ing the dig­i­tal age. I needed some point of ref­er­ence to explain top­ics that were sim­ple in his era, so I began to explore and doc­u­ment. Ulti­mately, I knew that I would need to con­nect the dots between his tech­nol­ogy and that of my grand­chil­dren. So off I went.

When I saw this pic­ture, it all made a lit­tle more sense. I have been work­ing ever since to learn the trade and have a place like this to leave what I found for oth­ers who might want it. It has taken a while and plenty of money, but I had the help of many oth­ers along the way Thanks to my mom and dad for fos­ter­ing my inter­ests, to my men­tors in school for chal­leng­ing my knowl­edge, to my col­leagues in the field for sup­port­ing my argu­ments, to my in-laws for mov­ing the let­ter­press, and to my wife Katie for help­ing me put it all together. This is my new favorite pic­ture for what it rep­re­sents. Thanks grandad.