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February 24, 2009

Give me Freehand, or give me death

Excerpt of Design Republic's save Freehand poster

If you're a digital graphic designer, the odds are overwhelming that you use two tools to create your images... Photoshop and Illustrator, both made by Adobe.

But, according to an article on Creative Review, there's a tiny dedicated minority out there who pledge their allegiance... and their clients' artwork... to a obsolete and discontinued program called Freehand.

Freehand was originally made by a company called Aldus. Aldus got bought by a company called Macromedia, and then a few years ago Macromedia got bought by Adobe.

Since Adobe already made -- and heavily promoted -- two graphics programs of their own, it came as no suprise when they announced back in 2007 that there would be no further Freehand updates. Since then Freehand disciples have lovingly guarded their aging software (for instance some designers make sure to never update any software on the machine holding their precious Freehand, just in case some random new printer driver or security patch could be Freehand-incompatible).

There's more than just stubbornness or technophobia going on here. An artist's tools are an extension of their mind and soul, and you trifle with them at your peril. I'm usually all about change, but if I had a design gig to farm out and had to choose between a designer who creams over the latest features in Illustrator and one who has a solid decade with Freehand, and can make it do exactly what they want it to do without hesitation, I may just have to go with the Freehand guy.

By the way, the image illustrating this post is from a limited-run poster called "I Would Save Freehand" by the influential British design firm The Designers Republic.

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Posted by Chris Spurgeon at February 24, 2009 09:22 PM

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