History and Development of Graphic Design

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It’s quite difficult to imagine our world today without graphic design. It has become a part of our daily lives and has a lot of influence on our lifestyles whether we are aware of it or not. As to understand any subject, we have to rewind and understand its birth and evolution to it’s current state of practice for us as designers to understand its power and impact.

Before we dive into graphic design, we must understand that the process of visually communicating information existed since the prehistoric age. Human’s have an inbuilt necessity to communicate with each other and have discovered multiple mediums of communication in which art has been one of the most powerful and evident throughout the history of mankind.

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During the pre historic age, art was found in different styles in caves all across the world. These are a few examples from different countries that show how evident and inherent that art is with human kind.

People also used to communicate on stone tablets which showed the advancement into written language. Stories were told, information of all sorts was passed down. It became a way of preserving and documenting their lives.

China was known for its advancements in printing. They printed on various materials like silk clothes and paper using wood blocks during 200 CE. A man named Bi Sheng invented a movable type printing press during 1040 using porcelain. This was 400 before the technology of printing presses was introduced to Europe.

Birth of Graphic Design

Once the technology of printing presses landed in Europe with the help of Johannes Gutenberg who bought the movable type press in 1439, the world changed dramatically. Mass communicating information became much more simpler and efficient, Large scale commercialization had begun, use of design became important and Graphic Design had been born and there was no turning back.

Modern Era

People started experimenting with the presses and used different techniques to print things. Printing presses started making logos to print onto their documents which lead to that being a way to brand themselves and the major commercial industries caught on. From then, the advancements were rapid. . The printing of colored images was called Chromolithograhy and this was introduced in 1837, which lead to another dimension being opened. Pictures were being printed and that bought in a sense of realism, which the consumers could connect to. This lead to advertising becoming rampant and different marketing schemes were inculcated in the print advertisements to capture their target audience. This modern Era lasted from late 1800s to World War 2. The 2nd world war also had an impact on graphic design. There were design movements that started during the world war against it. Dada movement was a cultural anti war movement, which inspired people to protest through work. They came out with very anti clichéd art which went against common styles. They used nonsensical collages and different un-aligned types to make their work.

20th Century Graphic Design

This was an era full of technological advancements which lead to people being more capable and creative. This pushed artists to do alot of experimenting and innovation with their styles and techniques which fuelled competition in the market producing more creative output than ever. The major companies realized the power graphic design has on people which lead to design agencies opening up to address the advertising and branding needs of these companies.

The first agency to open up was Wiener Werkstätte in 1903. It was a collaboration between artists, painters, architects and graphic designers. They set the standards of graphic design from then on. They innovated new styles (cubism being their most famous) and inspired many from there. The term Graphic Design was first used by William Addison Dwiggins in 1922 to describe what kind of work he does.

The Bauhaus 1920

The Bauhaus was a design school in Germany that had a major influence in graphic Design. They had ideals of designing things to perfection. Their unique style of simple geometry, layout and typography became a popular modernism style. They were also majorly involved in the creation of sans serif fonts. Their vital role had been taken away by the Nazi political parties and had to shut down in 1933.

Swiss Design 1940

The Swiss design was well renowned and iconic. It was also known as the International Style. It was created in Switzerland during 1940-50s. It was overlooked by designers Joseph Muller-Brockmann and Armin Hofmann.

They focused on grid systems, Sans serif typography, and asymmetrical layouts. They also used the combination of photography and typography. And their style focused on simplicity, objectivity and legibility. This style also was a heavy influence in graphic design, even today.

Paul Rand

Paul Rand was very influential in the graphic design and the advertising industry with his success in designing his logos for some of the biggest companies such as Ford, IBM, UPS, ABC and the list goes on. His approach was a realistic and idealistic one he focused on functionality and need. His philosophies and ideas are strong and are taught as fundamentals of design in the current day.

Shigeo Fukuda

A very famous designer during the 1960’s . Shigeo Fukuda is a designer from Japan that was very well known from his minimalistic and powerful works. He focused more on social impact than anything else. He set a trend for minimal posters.

Modern Day Design

After the release of Adobe Photoshop 1990, the graphic design industry took another huge shift in dimensions. With photomanipulation as key ingredient. It became a huge sub category in graphic design. The ability to create the most unimaginable things became possible. The advancement in technology lead to the advancement in creativity. New styles erupted and the platforms of showcasing these things were amplified with the computers, television and internet. This gave utmost creative power to each individual to experiment in different mediums, hence there are more styles of graphic design than there ever was.

History is the Road to the future

No matter how much we advance, the history will remain our foundational roots. Though it may seem that the times were very far apart, there are fundamentals that were forged that will remain true. There is no present and future without the past as everything today is the total sum of everything that happened in the past.

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