Bits to Pieces is...

views on digital preservation

thoughts and views

tips and tricks

bits of others

Q&A Erik Adigard

Erik Adigard is a communication designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work ranges from branding, interaction design, immersive installations and video to consulting and design strategy. Better known projects include many visual essays for Wired magazine, websites for WiredDigital, the branding of IBM software, and large exhibits for La Villette, Paris, the Lisbon Biennale and the Venice Architecture Biennale. He also teaches, and serve on juries and advisory boards. and

Absolutely Adigard
Erik Adigard. Absolut Adigard. 1996. Courtesy of Absolut Vodka.

Q&A Piet Schreuders

Piet Schreuders

Piet Schreuders (1951), graphic designer since 1975, editor-publisher of magazines De Poezenkrant and Furore, art director of VPRO Gids, researcher and writer.

Images courtesy Piet Schreuders. All rights reserved ©Piet Schreuders.

Q&A Max Kisman

As an analog graphic designer I first got interested in using computers when I saw a music video that used pixelation in its imagery. It was the early 80s and at the time I was graphic designer for Vinyl Music magazine. I used computer prints in an experimental "computer issue" (see elsewhere on this site). From then on I started to integrate digital technology in my graphic, typographic and illustrated work. Working with the Sinclair Spectrum 48K, the first editions of Apple Macintosh for print and Commodore Amiga 1000 for animation, I literally grew up (and in) with the technology in my field. It was applied in a.o. the '87 issue Red Cross Stamps of Dutch postal service, Language Technology/Electric word magazine, posters for Paradiso and Television graphics for Dutch VPRO Broadcasting networks. Later I got seriously involved in designing graphics for the first editions of websites like HotWired and VPRO digital.

1986 Tekst&Beeld De Meervaart
Max Kisman and Bert Hendriks explain how they use the Apple MAcintosh at the 1986 Woord & Beeld event in the Meervaart, Amsterdam NL

Digital Death Day

While we pay most of our attention to preserving our valuable digital data luckily other smart people think beyond this and concern about our digital afterlife. Last Digital Death Day held on 20 May 2010 in London brought together the businesses of social networking, data management and.... death care. They identified three dimensions of digital death:

Forgotten and found. The 1984 Apple Macintosh pricing list.

In 1982 Vinyl music magazine was designed using rudimentary computer printouts for its typography. The Apple Macintosh wasn't available then. Vinyl's design was experimental, clumsy, but it contained the idea that magazines might as well be computer generated. See the article on Vinyl, magazine for modern music (still to be translated). Affordable computer technology was still quite remote for me.

Digital engravings for value paper

Between the antiquarian books and brochures at Nijhof and Lee earlier this year I did find the leaflet De zomerzegels en de computer (The summer stamps and the computer) from 1970. At that time, the summer stamps of 1970 fascinated me enormously one way, yet on the other hand I resisted their mechanical appearance.

De zomerzegels en de Computer, brochure PTT 1970

Picking up the pieces, California

In June 2010 we have been visiting and talking to a few main characters from the early days of digital graphic design in California, USA. We made interviews with MAD's Erik Adigard and Patricia McShane in Sausolito, and San Anselmo's visual artist John Hersey.

Over bewaren

In mijn gesprekken met grafisch ontwerpers gaat het opvallend vaak over archiveren en tegenwoordig vooral over 'digitaal bewaren'. Het valt me telkens op hoe verschillend er wordt gedacht over het nut en noodzaak van het duurzaam bewaren van digitale bestanden, maar ook hoe weinig informatie er voor 'niet-professionals' beschikbaar is. De meeste van mijn gesprekspartners beginnen uit te leggen dat ze vroeger braaf CD's en DVD's branden maar dat ze inmiddels beter weten en zijn overgestapt naar opslag op een extra harde schijf. Meestal geautomatiseerd.


De digitale vergetelheid

We leven in een digitaal tijdperk waarin een groot deel van de wereldbevolking werkt en communiceert met voortdurend nieuwere vormen van technologie. Informatie wordt uitgewisseld via e-mail, muziek bestaat alleen nog op MP3’tjes, vakantiefoto’s worden bewaard op internet en met de overheid communiceren we via een digitaal loket.



Vinyl, tijdschrift voor moderne muziek

1981. In de Volkskrant of Parool las ik over iemand die een coputerprogramma aan het ontwikkelen was om ‘normale’ lettertypes geschikt te maken voor een matrixprinter. Hij had daar al wat mee geëxperimenteerd op een Apple Lisa of Apple II en kon de letters op verschillende groottes uitprinten.

Q&A Piet Schreuders
on Saturday, 10 September 2011 09:24
Piet Schreuders

Piet Schreuders (1951), graphic designer since 1975, editor-publisher of magazines De Poezenkrant and Furore, art director of VPRO Gids, researcher and writer.

Images courtesy Piet Schreuders. All rights reserved ©Piet Schreuders.

Was there an urgency to organize your archives?

Yes -- things were piling up in my office, there was no more shelf space, piles of paper were spilling on the floor etc and this was obstructing my work.

What is the structure behind its organization?

Work archive; job files; spare copies of books and other printed matter I designed; special projects (books, films, etc.); photo negatives; correspondence files; miscellaneous papers; also press clippings and secondary literature (interviews etc), and personal papers.

A special project, such as a book about Beatles locations, may require an entire filing cabinet full of paper files.


Piet Schreuders archive boxes Piet Schreuders

How do you keep track or how do you catalog the archives (print, computer)?

Pre-computer: whenever a job came off the press I religiously put a copy into a carboard box. And whenever such a box was full I started a new one. So this is roughy a chronological collection (1968-1990). I have an (analog) list of all jobs.

Computer: Whenever a job is done I copy the contents of the folder to a backup disc, year by year. There are between 30 and 60 of such job folders a year.

I am currently compiling a (digital) catalog of all jobs, including the contents of each job file and related materials. I would welcome suggestions as to the organization of such a catalog.

When did you start using the computer?



From that moment on, did you change storing your work files differently? If so, why?

Obviously if a job is digital it has to be stored digitally. I went through several generations of storage media and currently use a 300GB harddisk plus 2TB backup disk. Additionally, each job usually has a (paper) folder with contact info, sketches, notes, hard copies; I save them as well, if relevant.

In the early days I kept only the layout files but not the linked images because they required too much storage. I learned the hard way that it better to just keep everything.

Do you regularly make back-ups?

Yes, but not very frequently.


Do you use a strategy of saving your work files. If so could you briefly describe it?

The work files are kept in a large folder on my computer called "Current jobs". When a job is finished, its folder is copied to an archive disk, then deleted from the work disk.


Do you have specific questions about sustainable storage of your digital work files?

There are two storage problems everyone is familiar with:

- The program with which the job was created is no longer supported or will not work under today's system software;

- The fonts are missing;

- The storage medium itself is corrupt.

I lost a sizable amount of work from 1996 after storing it on cd-ROMS which proved inaccessible after only 5 years. I am sadly missing work files from 1997 which were stored on a 128Mb Magneto-Optical disk which no one can read anymore.

I suppose the trick is to keep copying one's archive files onto new storage media as they become available.


Piet Schreuders


How long would it take you to locate a five year old digital work file? And how long would it take you to locate a physical document?

My digital archive from 1990 onwards is always online and accessible, so it is a matter of seconds.


Would you be able to use the digital file still?

Whether it will actually work depends on the program (Quark? Illustrator? Indesign? Which fonts? Compatibility?) so it may take a long time to get the file in working order.


What is of more importance to you, your physical, analog archive or your digital archive and why?

On a day-to-day basis, the digital archive is more important because I am often asked to re-submit artwork of old jobs which the printer has since lost (reprints of books, cd artwork, Little Golden Books, etc.). For serial publications, too, it is essential to be able to have quick access to earlier editions.

In the long run, however, the analog archive may hold more relevance just because of its unique nature (sketches, rejected versions, original prints etc).

If/when I ever issue a book of my own work I expect to rely heavily on the analog archive.


And the combination of the two is ideal -- for instance, I regularly scan archival documents and photos and publish them on Flickr and elsewhere on the net. I love this combination of digital and analog archive. I have a collection of photo negatives going back to 1964 (my own) and 1938 (my father's) and being able to digitize any image from this is fantastic, the best of both worlds.


Piet Schreuders
Preliminary design for a set of summer postage stamps (not used), 2006