Category Archives: History

Confessions of a tech junkie

Confessions of a tech junkie

My name is Mike Willis and I’m a tech junkie. I confess, I’ve done it all. Back in the early days, late 70′s, I started out on basic stuff. FAX. Good technology back then. FAX was like magic. You slid a paper into the holder, pushed a button, and like magic it was teleported and...

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You know what this blog needs? Beer.

I’ve been on various charitable committees thought the years. And while it felt good to do something good for the community, for me, they always seemed to be missing something. That “something” it turns out was beer. About 22 years ago I was commissioned to design a logo for an event called “Brews on the...

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Graphic Design vs Science Fairs

My daughter, Sophia, is preparing to go away to college this year. She’ll be attending Chico State. In preparation for that move, we’re having her dismantle her room. Her bedroom looks like a scene from Hoarders. The order to “clean her room” just meant, “shove everything under you bed or in your closet”. Rarely was...

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back in my day: cut & paste VS paste up

Grumpy Old Man

Rapidograph, steel rule, xacto knife, blue pencils, t-square, vemco, rub-off type, kroy machine, triangle, french curve. They sound like the name of cheesy garage bands, but they were the tools of my trade. They were primitive and crude design tools, and to quote Dana Carvey’s grumpy old man, “We liked it that way!” Nowadays clients...

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Who is Don Ambriz? And why you should care.

In the early days- pre-1970s, graphic design in Bakersfield consisted of going to the printer, writing down your info, picking a horrible looking piece of clip art that best represented your company and getting cards printed. No real design process involved. Then along came a guy with a weird neck beard and opened one of...

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I started doing business as a graphic designer in 1979. The photo above is me at my drawing table around that time. However, Willis Design Studios did not always carry that moniker. In the beginning it was called…wait for it… Rainbow Graphics. The hippies claimed the rainbow as one of their symbols long before the...

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