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Paste Up Day

Before desktop publishing programs and digital imaging with computers, there was an era when newspapers, magazines, and similar materials were compiled by hand. The laying out of pages for publishing was done by a paste-up artist, who was also known as a mechanical artist, layout artist, production artist, or compositor. Paste Up Day was started at a time when paste-up artists were still common, and the holiday was for honoring them. Since paste-up work began disappearing in the 1990s, the holiday could now be seen more as a day to honor the legacy of paste-up work in general.

Today we take computers for granted, but there was a time when all the work done on them to create a layout for a newspaper was done by a paste-up artist. The process went something like this: Phototypesetting was used, in which what was called "cold type" was put onto photographic paper. Each newspaper story would fit on long scrolls of this paper. As the stories wouldn't fit on a newspaper page as is, they would have to be cut into sections so that they could be placed in columns on the page. The paste-up artist would also arrange the headline, line art, photostats, and other graphics on the page. A rubber cement adhesive would then be put on the back of them, or they would be put through a machine that would put a wax adhesive on them. The pieces would then be put on a board, such as one made with stiff, white paper. After being completed, the page would then be put on an easel and photographed. The photograph was used to make a negative, and the negative would be used to make a printing plate.

How to Observe Paste Up Day

The day could be celebrated by doing your own paste-up. One way to do this could be to arrange words and pictures onto a poster board to make your own front-page newspaper. You could also celebrate the day by exploring images of paste-up from a time gone by.

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