What is the Graphic Design History

What is the Graphic Design History?

Author: Vibhu Mallick

The compelling, if somewhat obscure, paintings in the caves of Lascaux around 14,000 BC and the birth of written language in the third or fourth millennium BC, are both significant milestones in the history of graphic design and other fields which hold roots to graphic design.
The Book of Kells is a very beautiful and very early example of graphic design in a form that would be acceptable even today. The Book is a lavishly illustrated hand-written copy of the Christian Bible created by Celtic monks in the ninth century AD.
Johann Gutenberg's introduction of movable type in Europe made books widely available. The earliest books produced by Gutenberg's press and others of the era (the Incunabula). Only through the design of Aldus Manutius did the book begin to have a structure that would became the benchmark by which the design of future books, even as late as the 20th century, would be judged. Graphic design of this era is called either Old Style (especially the typefaces which these early typographers used), or Humanist, after the predominant philosophical school of the time.
Graphic design, after Gutenberg saw a gradual evolution rather than any significant change, in the late 19th century when, especially in the United Kingdom, an effort was made to create a firm division between the fine and the applied arts.
From 1891 to 1896 William Morris' Kelmscott Press published some of the most significant of the graphic design products of the Arts and Crafts movement, and made a very lucrative business of creating books of great stylistic refinement and selling them to the wealthy for a premium. Morris proved that a market existed for works of graphic design and helped pioneer the separation of design from production and from fine art. The work of the Kelmscott Press is characterized by its decadence and by its obsession with historical styles. This historicism was, however, historically important as it amounted to the first significant reaction to the stale state of nineteenth-century graphic design. Morris' work, along with the rest of the Private Press movement, directly influenced Art Nouveau and is indirectly responsible for developments in early twentieth century graphic design in general.
Piet Mondrian, born in 1872, is often called the father of graphic design. Although he was a fine artist (not a graphic designer) his use of grids inspired the basic structure of the modern advertising layout known also as the grid system, used commonly today by graphic designers.
The term Graphic Design was first coined by U.S. book designer and type designer William Addison Dwiggins in the early 20th C.
20th century
Famous SS Normandie poster by Adolphe Muron Cassandre.Modern Design of the early 20th century, much like the fine art of the same period, was a reaction against the decadence of typography and design of the late 19th century. The hallmark of early modern typography is the sans-serif typeface. Early Modern (not to be confused with the other modern era of the 18th and 19th centuries) typographers such as Edward Johnston and Eric Gill after him were inspired by vernacular and industrial typography of the latter nineteenth century. The signage in the London Underground is a classic of this era and used a font designed by Edward Johnston in 1916.
Jan Tschichold codified the principles of modern typography in his 1928 book, New Typography. He later repudiated the philosophy he espoused in this book as being fascistic, but it remained very influential. Tschichold, Bauhaus typographers such as Herbert Bayer and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and El Lissitzky are the fathers of graphic design as we know it today. They pioneered production techniques and stylistic devices used throughout the twentieth century. Although the computer has altered production forever, the experimental approach to design they pioneered has become more relevant than ever.
The following years saw graphic design in the modern style gain widespread acceptance and application. A booming post-World War II American economy established a greater need for graphic design, mainly advertising and packaging. The emigration of the German Bauhaus school of design to Chicago in 1937 brought a "mass-produced" minimalism to America; sparking a wild fire of postmodern architecture and design. Notable names in mid-century modern design include Adrian Frutiger, designer of the typefaces Univers and Frutiger; Paul Rand, who, from the late 1930's until his death in 1996, took the principles of the Bauhaus and applied them to popular advertising and logo design, helping to create a uniquely American approach to European minimalism while becoming one of the principal pioneers of the subset of graphic design known as corporate identity; and Josef Müller-Brockmann, who designed posters in a severe yet accessible manner typical of the 1950s and 1960s.
The reaction to the increasing severity of graphic design was slow but inexorable. The origins of post-modern typography can be traced back as far as the humanist movement of the 1950s. Notable among this group is Hermann Zapf who designed two typefaces that remain ubiquitous Palatino (1948) and Optima (1952). By blurring the line between serif and sans-serif typefaces and re-introducing organic lines into typography these designs did more to ratify modernism than they did to rebel.
An important point was reached in graphic design with the publishing of the First things first 1964 Manifesto which was a call to a more radical form of graphic design and criticized the ideas of value-free design. This was massively influential on a generation of new graphic designers and contributed to the founding of publications such as Emigre magazine.
I Love New York campaign by Milton Glaser.Another notable designer of the latter 20th century is Milton Glaser who designed the unmistakable I Love NY ad campaign (1973), and a famous Bob Dylan poster (1968). Glaser took stylistic hints from popular culture from the 1960s and 70s.
Advances in the early 20th century were largely inspired by technological advances in printing and also in photography. In the last decade of the same century, technology played a similar role, but this time it was the computer, and at first it was largely a step backwards. Zuzana Licko worked very early using computers for layout, in the days when computer memory was measured in kilobytes and typefaces were created using dots rather than lines. Together with her husband Rudy VanderLans they founded the pioneering Emigre magazine and the Emigre type foundry. They played with the extraordinary limitations of computers as something which, in itself, could provide creative freedom. Emigre magazine became the bible for digital design as the technology rapidly advanced to the point where the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.
David Carson is, in a sense, the culmination of the movement against the restrictiveness of modern design—some of his designs for Raygun magazine are intentionally illegible, featuring typography designed to be visual rather than literary experiences.
Soviet Constructivism
Mainly in the 1920's, in Soviet Russia, Soviet Constructivism applied 'intellectual production' in different spheres of production. The movement saw individualistic art as useless in revolutionary Russia and thus moved towards creating objects for utilitary purposes. They designed buildings, theater sets, posters, fabrics, clothing, furniture, logos, menus etc.

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