"Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production"; Champaign-Urbana Premiere; Nov 14, 2017


Join us for a post-screening panel discussion about the movie and this soon-to-be-forgotten era of graphic design history. Filmmaker Briar Levit and distinguished internationally renowned designer April Greiman will join us live via Skype. Expect a lively discussion with our panel of distinguished "old school" designers, "new wave" innovators and educators.

photograph of a T-square


Laura AdamsLaura Adams: A University of Illinois graduate in graphic design, Laura has worked as a technical illustrator and designer for ad agencies, freelance design clients, and multiple U of I units (including over 30 years for WILL broadcasting). Her career started unofficially when her father gave her his old drawing table, T-square, and triangles to play with. The exacting nature of those now-obsolete hand tools and skills appealed to her, and the early days of Rapidographs, paste-up, photostat cameras, and rubylith were not a deterrent to her enjoyment of the field of visual communication.

Accumulating awards for print design at both the regional and national levels, she remembers how the production process of just one 16-page program guide took all of the hard drive space on the early Macs, as well as hours to load to floppy disks. Upon her recent retirement from the U of I, she has had the opportunity to assemble work from those early days to the present… and she has begun to recognize what's been gained — and in some cases what may have been lost — with the advent of new tools.



Jack W. DavisJack W. Davis — a graduate of the University of Illinois graphic design program — is a successful designer and illustrator working and living in the Champaign area for more than 50 years. Jack has been a freelance designer for over 40 of 'em. He has designed and illustrated for numerous local, regional, and national companies and organizations, and has been recognized for a number of his logo designs, illustrations, and collateral pieces (see www.jackdavis.com).

Jack began his career as a graphic designer for Agricultural Communications at the University before moving to the U of I Press. Jack also worked for a Champaign-based advertising agency, before going out on his own as a freelancer.

Before buying his first Macintosh in 1989, he spent many hours with traditional tools of the trade: T-squares and #11 X-Acto knife blades, magic markers and layout pads; blue pencils and illustration board; Rapidograph pens, rubber cement and waxed type. It was not unusual to slice tiny 8 pt. letterforms and move them a hair closer to visually improve their kerning.

Just as the tools have changed and disappeared, so have entire industries and Jack has witnessed it all: hot-lead linotype, huge typography houses, innovative phototypesetting machines, process camera darkrooms, large scanning plants — all gone in a relatively short span of time.



Al FleenerAl Fleener is President and Creative Director of SURFACE 51, a marketing and design firm based out of Champaign. Founded in late 2004, SURFACE 51 has grown to a team of 14 and has been fortunate to work with a wide range of amazing businesses in its community and beyond. 

Al is an alumnus of Parkland College, where he learned his foundational graphic design skills — including working with such cutting-edge tools as presstype, rubylith and rapidograph pens. (Whew, so thankful for the Mac!)

In his spare time, Al… wait — what's spare time? 



April GreimanApril Greiman is a designer/artist exploring image, word and color as objects in time and space. Fusing art and technology, her multi-media works exist at varying scales and materials. Instrumental in the use and acceptance of advanced technology in the creative process, she is widely recognized for her revolutionary digital imaging work. Greiman's work has been published extensively, most notably in four monographs, Hybrid Imagery (1990), It's Not What You Think It Is (1994), Graphic Evolutionary (1998), and Something from Nothing (2002). She teaches and lectures worldwide, and her work has been collected by and exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). 

In 2014, Greiman was one of 30 creative individuals featured in the Apple documentary Mac@30.

In 2017, Greiman was featured in the new documentary Graphic Means which brought back both fond memories and nightmares. She is very happy that she doesn't need to use X-Acto knives anymore.

April Greiman will be joining the panel via Skype.



Briar LevitBriar Levit is an assistant professor of graphic design at Portland State University, and holds a master's in communication design from Central St. Martins College of Art & Design in the UK. She came up as a designer in San Francisco in the late 1990s, and missed the cold type era by just a few years.

Briar cut her teeth as a designer working in-house for Discovery Channel Stores, and not long after that became art director at magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Her graphic design focus and practice consists primarily of publication design, with a special interest in independent publishing, small presses, and hiking guides (a few of which she has self-published).

Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production was a significant jump out of her comfort zone—but once the idea came to her, it simply wouldn't go away. She has been working on the film since 2014, while teaching design full time.

Briar Levit will be joining the panel via Skype.



John WalkerJohn Walker began his graphic design career as an undergraduate student at Louisiana Tech in 1977 where he had his first encounters with ruling pens, french curves, and stat machines. While there he soon became known as the wizard of typeface identification. He began his career in academia teaching, among other things, type specification and how to cut rubylith; but was soon figuring out (along with his students) how Bezier curves work and the difference between vector and rastor.

Walker is currently a professor emeritus at Illinois State University. After spending the second half of his career in administration where he served as associate dean of the college of fine arts and the director of the Arts Technology Program, he retired in 2016. He has two grown children and lives with his wife Melinda in Normal.



Paul YoungPaul Young is a graphic designer and an educator with over 30 years of experience in the marketing communications industry. His full-time teaching career began in 1999.

As a designer, Paul's professional experience has included creative positions in ad agencies, design studios, publishing firms and in-house art departments in New York City and Milwaukee. Currently he is a partner at Electric Pictures, a design studio in Champaign, Illinois.

As an educator, Paul has taught graphic design at Parsons School of DesignMilwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Parkland College, where he is currently a professor.

Right after graduating from the University of Illinois' graphic design program in 1983, Paul did paste-up, cut Rubylith by hand, and ran a Compugraphic typesetting machine. His boss gave him a Macintosh in 1986 which sat on his desk unused. Eventually he threw out the Mac and joyfully replaced it with an IBM 386 running PageMaker 1.0a.