Back in the seventies it was a very different world to that of today in the advertising industry. Advertising agencies did not allow unions, the print industry was a closed shop and computers didn't exist, typesetting was a very expensive operation, and so all artwork and repro was bought out using outside suppliers.

Mather Associates

In the summer of 1974 Syd Matthews a freelancer, and Ray Herr, from the advertising agency 'Everetts', started their own Art Studio. Mather Associates was born, the 'Mat' from Matthews and the 'her' from Herr to form 'Mather'. Six months later Vic Smith, a typographer also from 'Everetts' joined to form an equal partnership of three.

100 Oxford Street, W1

To begin with, as with any fledgling company, it was a small concern, renting space from a colleagues company 'Posmark' in Oxford Street. Artwork was very different then, galley typesetting (very expensive & bought out) was pasted up into position onto CS10 (board) using cow gum, all lines and graphics were hand drawn using Rapidographs, and the b&w positional images were bought out (neg & print) as this was before PMTs! Ray and Syd worked on the board with Vic being the typographer. Artwork was supplied to the agency where it would then go on to a specialist repro house to produce separated films (one for each plate), again a very expensive and complicated process at the time. Initial clients included the advertising agencies 'Everetts', 'McCann-Erikson', 'David Williams & Ketcham' along with the record company 'RCA Records'. Work was mainly Ads, POS and LP record sleeves.

76 Neal Street, Covent Garden WC2

The company quickly outgrew their space and in 1977 moved to Neal Street in Covent Garden. Syd, always keen on new technology, oversaw the installing one of the first 'PMT' machines in London. Shortly after he semi-automated the exposure system with an external solar cell linked to an electronic 'computer'. This was pioneering technology at the time, as this system was later adopted by the company Agfa in thier rostrum cameras.

By now Vic, Syd and Ray had been joined by Roy Welford, a freelance lettering and paste up artist, along with Tony, our PMT operator and 'Nell' our receptionist and 'runner'. Clients had expanded with new direct clients 'Burberrys' and 'Novello' along with the agencies 'Charles Barker' and 'Garrotts'. It was at this time, in June 79, that I joined Mather Associates as a junior paste-up artist and Illustrator. The business continued to expand and by the end of the year we had outgrown Neal Street.

22 Mortimer Street W1.

In 1980 we moved to larger premises in Mortimer Street W1 and took on a permanent receptionist, Jeanette and another paste up artist, Rick. Here we had loads of space, over 2000 sq ft and revelled in our luxury. We picked up more agencies, 'City Marketing' and 'Vallin Pollen' among them. This in turn meant the type of work we did expanded into corporate brochures, annual reports and lots of graphs!

We also picked up 'Townsend Thoresen' (later to become P&O European Ferries) via the agency 'Heritage Peters' where we got involved in producing elaborate dummies for their holiday brochures, along with the artwork and associated maps. In 1983 our lease ended and we had to move again.

27 Greville Street

Having moved several times in less than 9 years the partners felt they needed a bit more stability so signed a 9 year lease for 1100 sq ft on the top floor of 27 Greville Street. Whilst no longer having the prestigious west end address, it did have the advantage of being in the middle of the typesetting and repro houses at the time.

This was still in the pre computer age, with typesetting bought out using various setting machines such as 'Compugraphic', 'Linotronic', 'Diatronic' and 'Scantext'.

Vic continued to do his immaculate type mark ups, Ray was getting ever more involved with the increasing paperwork and Syd became the main client contact.

I was left to run the studio, which now had Charlie, Lea, Bob, Janice and later Cliff and Julie. During our stay at Greville St we had a succession of secretary/receptionists including, Nikki, Kate, Karen, Heidi and finally Debbie. We also took on Mark Saunders who became our new business rep and even had our own motorcycle messenger for a while.

Business was good along with most businesses in the early 80's but in September 1988 tragedy struck when after a short illness Syd died at the age of 47. This was a major shock for all of us. Needless to say this had a profound effect on the partnership both financially and client wise, Syd was well liked by all our clients and is missed by all who knew him. He would have enjoyed the challenge of the next ten years, when the industry was to embrace computers. Just prior to Syd's death he and I were weighing up the pros and cons of Pagemaker 1 and Ventura on the PC, and Quark 1 for the Macintosh!

The next few years were more difficult, combined with the loss of Syd the recession had taken hold. On top of this margins were being cut by new technology and we felt we needed to get on board. Our first foray into the world of computers was with a PC running 'Ventura Publisher 2', we proofed it on our A4 laser printer then supplied a postscript file on floppy disk to a bureau just along the road, where we received back the galley setting ready for paste up.

This was a challenging time for Charlie and myself as we were completely self-taught. We soon realised the bulk of the advertising world was going the 'Macintosh' route so in 1990 we bought our state of the art Macintosh IIsi with a whopping 5 meg of ram! Whilst in today's terms this is laughable, it gave us the chance to cut our teeth on Quark, Illustrator and even Photoshop 2! Whilst going through this technological change we were working for new agencies SJA, MSW and Rapp Collins, specialising more on direct marketing material.

62 Cowcross Street, EC1

In July 1992 I became a partner with Vic and Ray and we moved across the road to Cowcross St, we had shrunk in size and had lost some of the early agency clients, but still had Burberrys as a direct client and produced all their POS material including print. We were also still working for 'Rapp Collins' and did a lot of direct mail work for 'Abbey National', amongst others.

Cowcross Street was a perfect location at that time, being right in the middle of numerous bureaus, outputting bromide, film, matchprints, colour lasers dye subs and exhibition prints. This made us very competitive as an external supplier, but the practice of agencies putting artwork out to suppliers was diminishing.

Mather Graphics

At the end of 1993 I bought out Vic and Ray to become a sole trader. Vic, Ray Charlie and Debbie continued to work for me until Debbie left to have a baby and Vic's retirement in 1994, followed by Ray's retirement in 1999.

No longer a partnership I started trading as Mather Graphics and continued the business at Cowcross Street for another six years until our lease ended in June 2000. Back in 1994 we began working for the agency 'Aim Direct' and were to become their sole artwork supplier for the following six years until their eventual split in 2000. It was for 'Aim' that we got involved with a very large project for 'Philips' involving many artworks in 14 languages.

Chalk, Kent

In July 2000 I reluctantly left the offices at Cowcross Street, with cable broadband and ISDN becoming available in Chalk, I took the opportunity to work from home. This has proved very successful, allowing me to be very flexible with working hours, and finally putting a stop to over twenty years of commuting up to 3 hours a day.

I still produce a variety of artwork for smaller agencies using mainly PDF proofs with email/FTP delivery, but also freelance in-house when required, which I enjoy as it continues to give me a nice variety of work and a chance to meet new people.