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The progress of graphic design through history to the 21st century

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Graphic design is the art of choosing and organizing visual elements such as typography, images, symbols, and colors to convey a message to a target audience. Some call it "visual communication", which highlights its role in the design of books, advertisements, logos, or websites to effectively convey information.

History of graphic design

Graphic design as the art of organizing visual elements to communicate with the audience has a long history. Its development is closely related to technological innovations, social needs, and the creativity of practitioners. The practice of graphic design has existed in various forms throughout history, and examples from ancient China, Egypt, and Greece demonstrate the power of this art.

The beginnings of graphic design in ancient times

Although graphic design as a separate profession is relatively new, its roots go back to ancient times. Illustrated manuscripts were created in ancient civilizations such as China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Although the early creators were unaware of the concept of "graphic design," their works combined text and images in a way that effectively communicated ideas. For example, the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead exemplifies early graphic designs with its hieroglyphic narratives and illustrations.

The First Forms of Graphic Design

During the Middle Ages, handwritten books were essential for preserving and disseminating knowledge. These books were decorated with illustrations on parchment or vellum pages, which contributed to the development of book design in European monasteries.

Development of graphic design over time

Advances in graphic technologies, such as movable type, contributed to the further development of graphic design. These technologies began to be used in China as early as the 6th century, and by the 15th century, they had spread to Europe. In 1450, Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press using movable metal letters, which led to the spread of printed books. Designers tried to replicate handwritten styles in typographic books, which contributed to the development of these books' own design language.

Johann Gutenberg - Printing press using movable metal letters

Over time, illustrated books became more common, combining text and illustrations on printed pages. This development led to the expansion of graphic design as a professional practice and art.

Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg[a] (c. 1393–1406 – 3 February 1468) was a German inventor and craftsman who introduced letterpress printing to Europe with his movable-type printing press. Though movable type was already in use in East Asia, Gutenberg invented the printing press,[2] which later spread across the world.[3] His work led to an information revolution and the unprecedented mass spread of literature throughout Europe. It had a profound impact on the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, and humanist movements.
-Source: Wikipedia

Development of graphic design through artistic stages


Rococo, an 18th-century artistic movement known for its complex curvilinear decorations, found its way into graphic design through the work of French pioneer Pierre-Simon Fournier. After completing his artistic studies and practical experience at the Le Bé typographic workshop, Fournier established his own typographic shop and foundry. He created a variety of ornaments and floral typography, enabling French printers to produce books with complex decorative designs that were in keeping with the architecture and interiors of the era. Due to French law prohibiting printers from printing themselves, Fournier often supplied fictional pages to the printer, taking on the role of graphic designer.

Rococo Style Design

Graphic design often requires the cooperation of different experts. Many 18th-century artists specialized in book illustration. One such artist was the Frenchman Charles Eisen, who illustrated Contes et nouvelles en vers by the French poet Jean de La Fontaine (1762; Stories and Novels in Verse). In this work, printer Joseph Gerard Barbou used Fournier's fonts and decorations, and Eisen's full-page engravings, while Pierre-Phillippe Choffard contributed elaborate illustrations and tails.

Pierre-Simon Fournier

Pierre-Simon Fournier (15 September 1712 – 8 October 1768) was a French mid-18th century punch-cutter, typefounder and typographic theoretician. He was both a collector and an originator of types. Fournier's contributions to printing were his creation of initials and ornaments, his design of letters, and his standardization of type sizes. He worked in the rococo form and designed typefaces including Fournier and Narcissus.[1] He was known for incorporating ‘decorative typographic ornaments’[2] into his typefaces. Fournier's main accomplishment is that he ‘created a standardized measuring system that would revolutionize the typography industry forever’.[3]
He was also known as Fournier le Jeune ("the younger") to distinguish him from his father Jean Claude, who was also in the typesetting industry. In his early life, Fournier studied watercolor with J. B. G. Colson, and later wood engraving. In 1737, Fournier published his first theoretical work, on the minimum spacing between letters while still retaining readability.
- Source: Wikipedia

Art Noveau

Art Nouveau is an international design movement that originated and encompassed all the design arts - architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, and product design - during the 1890s and early 20th century. Its main characteristic was a fluid curvilinear form. Art Nouveau graphic design often used stylized abstract shapes, contours, and flat space inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e woodcuts.

One of the most innovative posters of the Art Nouveau movement was by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec from 1893, which depicted dancer Jane Avril performing in the Jardin de Paris.

Henri De Toulouse Lautrec Art 1893

Art Nouveau rejected historical motifs and emphasized formal inventiveness, thus becoming a transitional movement from Victorian design to the modern art movements of the early 20th century.

During the 20th century, graphic design had not only an aesthetic and commercial function but also played an important political role, especially during the First World War, which is clearly seen in the posters and graphic propaganda produced at the time. Through posters, governments raised funds for the war effort, encouraged productivity at home, created negative images of the enemy, encouraged recruitment into the military, and boosted citizen morale.

The Bauhaus, a German design school founded in 1919 under the leadership of architect Walter Gropius, became the source where numerous ideas from modern art movements were explored and synthesized into a coherent design movement. Initially, the Bauhaus had an expressionist and utopian approach to design but later shifted to a functionalist approach. Bauhaus artists and designers sought to achieve a new unity between art and technology, creating functional designs—often using the pure forms of modernism—that expressed the mechanization of the industrial age.

Swiss designers also brought considerable energy to graphic design during this period. After studying in Paris with Fernand Léger and collaborating with Cassandra on poster projects, Herbert Matter returned to Switzerland, where from 1932 to 1936 he designed posters for the Swiss tourist community, using his own photographs as the basic material. On his posters, he used photomontage and collage techniques, dynamic changes of proportions, large close-up images, extreme high and low perspectives, and very narrow cropping of images.

After the Second World War, significant changes took place in the field of graphic design in the USA and Japan.

In the US, designers moved from the neutral and rational approach that was emphasized in the International Typographic Style codified by Swiss and German designers, to highly individualistic statements in line with the concepts of modern art. New York has become a center of innovation in design and fine arts. Magazines became an important area where designers experimented with different sizes of typography and images to create a dynamic experience for readers. Also, the advent of television has changed the role of print media, opening up new opportunities for designers in television commercials and on-air graphics.

In Japan, the first generation of designers after the war was led by Kamekura Yusaku, known as "The Boss", who combined modern experiments with traditional Japanese concepts of harmony. While some Japanese designers used iconography from various mass media as a source of inspiration, others focused on creating metaphysical statements through design.

Examples like Glaser's poster for Bob Dylan or Satō's poster for a musical play show the wide range of styles and approaches that characterized the post-war period in graphic design in the US and Japan.

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Throughout the 20th century, the technology available to designers advanced rapidly, along with the artistic and commercial possibilities of design. Interest in design has grown significantly, and graphic designers have created various types of content such as magazine pages, book covers, posters, CD covers, postage stamps, packaging, logos, signs, advertisements, kinetic titles for TV programs and movies, and websites.

At the turn of the 21st century, graphic design has become a global profession thanks to advanced technology and the expansion of industry around the world.

Software for Apple's Macintosh computer 1984, such as the MacPaint™ program by Bill Atkinson and Susan Kara, had a revolutionary user interface. Tool icons used via mouse or graphics tablet enabled designers and artists to use computer graphics intuitively.

MacPaint First Generation
Adobe Systems, Inc.'s Postscript™ page description language made it possible to compose typography and images into on-screen graphic designs. By the mid-1990s, the transition of graphic design from the physical surface to computer-based work on the screen was almost complete.

The digital revolution in graphic design was quickly followed by the widely available Internet. An entirely new field of graphic design began to grow in the mid-1990s when e-commerce became a growing sector of the global economy, prompting organizations and businesses to develop websites. Web page design involves the organization of information on the screen, and the principles used for typography, images, and colors are similar to those used for print.

Due to the international availability and influence of the Internet, the profession of graphic design is becoming more and more global. The integration of motion graphics, animation, video content, and music into web page design has brought together traditional print and broadcast media. As motion media expands from movies and basic television to numerous cable television channels, video games, and animated websites, motion graphics is becoming an increasingly important area of graphic design.

AI Images 2024
In the 21st century, graphic design is ubiquitous, a key component of our complex print and electronic information systems. It permeates modern society, providing information, product identification, entertainment, and persuasive messages. The inexorable advancement of technology has dramatically changed the way graphic design is created and distributed to a mass audience. However, the basic role of the graphic designer - giving expressive form and clarity to communicative messages - remains unchanged.

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- Source: Wikipedia

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