004. Steve Rachwal: Phototypesetting & Cold Type

“It was kind of math and computers... not really design.”

In this episode, I chat with designer Steve Rachwal, who used to work as a typesetter at EllaType on Sunset Boulevard from 1985 to 1988 on the Berthold phototypesetting computer system.

EllaType was strictly a Berthold shop, which featured the best cut fonts in the world. Steve helped to typeset nearly the entire Motown music collection as they converted the LPs to CDs, including lots of liner notes and song lists. He also did a lot of typesetting work for Los Angeles-area design greats Sussman/Prejza and Burson-Marsteller. 

Steve then went on to work as an art director at New Perspectives Quarterly and designed books for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum of art. 

He recounts the typesetting process pre-computer and walks us through what that was like. Towards the end of the interview, Briar Levit, director of the Graphic Means documentary joins us and asks her some questions herself. 

I encountered Steve on my search for phototypesetting equipment for a cold type workshop. Alas, we never found working equipment and didn't run the workshop. But I was happy to find Steve.

In my conversation with Michael Stinson, we discuss the value of typography for his career and he discusses type skills needed during the annual report days. 

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Rachel