Pre-computers, rub down dry-transfer lettering was one of the few ways to produce titles and graphics which went beyond what was normally available from traditional typesetting.
Letraset were the biggest producer of the transfers in Europe and concentrated largely on the professional market, but the lettering was also available to non-professionals.
There was a certain amount of skill in using transfer sheets correctly. If you rubbed down with too much pressure the letters would break up. The only solution then was to gently apply a piece of adhesive tape over it and try to remove the damaged letter from the paper’s surface then try again.
This concert flyer from the late Seventies has clearly subverted the process and faithful to the punk ethic the designer has deliberately overdone the transfer process to ensure every letter was damaged. The result was the total antithesis of the Letraset product.
I was working on a project for a book cover design and felt this damaged type look would work well. You can of course find any number of digitised grunge or distressed typefaces out there today but there is nothing like a bit of DIY.
I scanned the flyer and then generated a new full alphabet of the damaged letters in Photoshop, making up the missing letters myself. The original Letraset typeface is called Decorated 035. It’s a very Sixties design which was popular with shop fascia designers. However it was designed back in the mid-1940s by Max and Eugen Lenz when it was called Profil, though the digitised version today is often listed under the Letraset name.
From there I wanted to make a print too, and tried reproducing a fake Letraset sheet but using the new letters. It looked a bit over-engineered. Instead I just reproduced a sample alphabet, and overlaid a suitably amended Letraset sheet catalogue number in the corner. It’s a bit of an in-joke which other designers of a certain age will pick up on, and drew some comments when it was shown at my last Open Studio event.
The flyer itself is not dated but was made in 1979. The Frantic Elevators were formed in 1976 (and featured one Mick Hucknall) while Protex, from Belfast, formed in 78 and supported The Boomtown Rats a few times. RAR is a Rock Against Racism event. The rest of the bands are lost to me, though I see Crass are listed as coming soon. One fan still remembers The Hamsters as Manchester’s answer to The Macc Lads, along with their opus “Friday Night At The Chinese Chip Shop.”
The Fun House itself was a punk club night held from around 1978 to 1981 in an astonishing old Deco cinema renamed The Mayfair Club, just off Hyde Road on the way out of Manchester. Almost anywhere else in the world this building would have been much treasured. Manchester council allowed it to be raised to the ground in 1985.
DECORATED 035 GREY Prints are available from the Easy On The Eye shop.
A retro FUN HOUSE 1978 short run t-shirt is available from the Easy On The Eye t-shirt shop