Flier Printing For The Ages

Archive of an era, or two, or three…

Fliers. What does that word bring to mind? Maybe pilots dressed in those old-timey bomber jackets and goggles. Or, if you've ever attended a non-mainstream concert, club event, rave, or 'party,' maybe the word 'fliers' evokes some ultra-cool club kid, swinging by your lunch table, smoke break, or bus bench and thrusting a sheet of folded paper, covered in lurid images and DIY typography, into your lap.

They're inexpensive and often, they look it, but few items in the print media arsenal are more evocative of full color printing's ability to spread the word quickly and thoroughly. For event promoters, flier printing is a dream come true: super cheap, easy to design, and easy to distribute.

I'm getting all nostalgic and teary-eyed on the subject because I just came across a very cool collection of fliers dating all the way back to 1989, courtesy of super-producer and DJ, Scotto.


From a printing perspective, it's fascinating to scan through the collection and actually get a visual presentation of how design and printing techniques have changed over the years.

In 1989, full color printing was far from available to every business and every budget. It was still extremely expensive, and most low-cost printers (a.k.a. Xerox machines!) were only offering single color designs. Concurrently, colorful paper was often employed to brighten up the limitation of the ink. Starting in about 1992, the full color designs begin to appear, and design style shifts to accommodate.

At almost the same time, a transition occurs from a lot of hand-drawing, collage, and simple type-based designs, to fliers created using professional graphic design software. It's at this point when original artwork begins to pop up more and more in flier printing, demonstrating how technology has freed, rather than repressed, the artistic spirit.

Flyer Sample

Both of these movements in flier printing show how print design and full color printing have become increasingly accessible and I believe, functional, over the last two decades.

Trends change, as do styles of music, production venues, and forms of advertising, but as long as there are people who like to go to parties, I think there will be flier printing, and that ultra-cool guy, handing out his promotion, getting the city ready for another night of music and fun.

Got any favorite flier memories (that's not so crazy, is it?). Tell us about them!


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