The words are the same, but the melody is different. Designing for a better world has been the lyric since the days of William Morris, if not before. Print was on that bandwagon in 1952, when its editor, Lawrence A. Audrain, announced a new policy on the cover, inside cover and first page—its very own First Things First. “We hope to be more provocative, more informative and more useful to more people,” wrote the editors. “It is our belief that the main purpose of those interested in the graphic arts is the mass production and imparting of ideas and information, and selling through the printed word. It will be our aim to demonstrate how this can be better done with dignity, variety and economy.”
So, where does the “better world,” enter?
“This nation is off to a afresh start under a new regime,” referring to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency. “In its own, much smaller way, so is Print, and we lay claim to the same incurable optimism which has marked the attitude of Americans everywhere — that we shall succeed where others in the field have failed.”
The “better world” is where?
The rest of this statement of principles (or manifesto, if you prefer) is easily read below. I reprint it here to show that the 2000s and 201os are not the only decades with high-minded potential that often is a way to couch less noble notions like Print‘s then goal to “give our advertisers more space for their money and at the same time reduce their plate costs.” I guess now, we’d call that sustainability.