Take a sheet of rubdown lettering, a stylus or the end of a pencil, a steady hand and a lot of patience and what you get is a nostalgic way of creating artwork – Letraset.
I remember when I was a child and walked into my father’s office (he worked from home) I sometimes had to wait for him to finish a word or sentence until I could talk to him. The idea of ‘just’ rubbing down some letters to create your design sounds quite easy but it was harder than it looks. There were always bits that wouldn’t transfer properly, you would run out of certain letters and keeping a word or sentence straight took some practice too. I’ve tried it myself when I was younger and I am glad I can work on a computer today. But back then it was much easier than doing lettering by hand.
The Letraset business was founded in London in 1959 and the dry-transferable lettering was used extensively by professional and amateur graphic designers, architects and artists from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s. Letraset sheets were available with letters in a large range of typefaces, styles, sizes, symbols, and other graphic elements.
When computerisation made its huge impact on the design world, Letraset converted their extensive typeface range into digital format and are to this day still involved in new typeface development. Apart from that they developed a range of professional markers for designers, which soon became an essential tool for quick visualisation and concept work.
But the UK era of Letraset has come to an end with manufacturing shifting from Kent to China and France. Even a Twitter group #Letrasetmemories has been set up to commemorate the end of Letraset’s UK production and if you want to get really sentimental just read some of the tweets there.