Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Past of Composite Cards - The 1980s and 1990's


Long ago, composite cards were costly to create, and methods of design were primitive. Most fashion models didn't have the money to make composite cards, so they began with a basic 8x10, black and white photo with a solid white outline. The model's stats were pasted to the back side in plain text.

I can still remember those good old days, printing tons of copies of the same dull headshot. Again and again and again. These 8x10 headshots were also pretty expensive, and this stopped the model distributing them. Models typically sent them to companies who were more likely to offer them a gig, or to talent agents who were likely to put them to work. Models could easily have missed out on some gigs just because they couldn't afford to hand out these headshots to everyone.

Eventually, a model would grow to be more successful and make more cash. This would let the model to design a black and white comp card made by an efficient printer. Only the best models in NYC could pay for full color. Offset printing calls for a lot of capital up front, but the price became cheaper if an order of hundreds or thousands of comp cards was ordered. Now, a model would have hundreds of cards available - and the model could definitely afford to send a card to anyone who could be only somewhat interested in seeing the model. The comp cards were even inexpensive enough to put in the mailbox to mail to talent agents around the nation, broadening a model's scope.

The sed cards of yesteryear were a specific way due to  the tech and investments involved with printing. This determined one shot on the front and a series of photos, every one a quarter of the space, on the rear of the card. A spot was also reserved on the rear of the comp card to print measurements for the model and a phone number.

Printing techniques wouldn't allow the pictures on the rear of the composite card from touching at all, and you could not make use of any spiffy colors or layouts. All comp cards were therefore designed on a plain background, with solid white outlines. These outlines also made it possible for the printing press to hold the composite card as it traveled through the printing process. Comp card printers couldn't extend the image to the edge, the way today's cards and layouts do. Although printing techniques has come quite a ways, the comp cards we print these days are still derived pretty solidly on this original graphic design, which came out necessity.

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