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I've been around long enough to have used 'hot metal' print and in the old days letters were sent in black and white in a typewriter typeface (Courier). Graphics were non-existent and if you did go to 2 colours you used black and blue so you could include the signature in the blue.
Nowadays, most people haven't even seen a typewriter and they are used to a multitude of readable typefaces.
My first job in publishing was for a company who produced town guide and estate agent maps. As we printed using letterpress the graphics had to be made into metal plates and because these were expensive we often used the same ones year in year out (some were 40 years old).
Then Litho printing came and we could improve the look of our publication. However, stock images were expensive and to have a designer knock something up was more expensive still.
"The kids of today don't know they're born..." copyright free art, millions of images to choose from, all inserted in any copy at the click of a mouse!
I still believe that 'copy is king' and many a promotion has been ruined by the inclusion of too many inappropriate graphics.
The best use of graphics I've seen are ones where the designer has come up with something simple and original.
Two examples spring to mind:
· The top half of an A4 letter included a hand drawn 'mind map' in multi colours showing the benefits of the product.
· A hand drawn and hand lettered space ad selling duvets.
I believe a good graphic is worth a thousand words as long as you don't cram too much in.