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A look into the history of graphic design

Graphic design is an essential part of everyday life, from billboards and brochures to websites and packaging. But how did it all begin and how has it evolved to become the visual powerhouse it is today?

History of graphic design - Snapied
History of graphic design - Snapied

In this article we’ll take a look back to the origins of graphic design and explore its exciting journey up until the present day. We’ll also be taking a look at the different types of graphic design, from print design to digital design and motion graphics, in addition to some of the most influential graphic designers who have shaped the industry.

Origins of Graphic Design

The origins of graphic design can be traced back to the late 19th century when printing technology began to become widely accessible. During this period, typography and design principles began to be applied to printed works in order to improve readability and visual appeal.

While traditional printing methods were used to produce printed works for centuries, the use of design elements such as color, shape, and typeface began to take hold in printed works as a means of communication.

This marked the beginning of what we now know as graphic design. In the early 20th century, graphic design began to gain popularity in a variety of fields, including advertising, journalism, and product packaging. This allowed the profession to develop and evolve in ways that had never been seen before.

Currently, graphic design is used in almost every industry and is an essential part of our lives.

Evolution of Graphic Design

The evolution of graphic design is an ever-changing field that continues to develop with the times. This discipline has seen a tremendous growth in both creativity and technical capabilities since its early beginnings. Graphic design has changed from paper-based drawings and hand-painted signs to the digital art we know today.

As the development of technology has brought easier access to powerful tools and platforms, graphic designers have adapted and continued to explore new boundaries in design.

A major milestone in the evolution of graphic design was the introduction of computers and the development of tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. These tools made it possible for designers to create digital compositions with more flexibility and speed than ever before. This shift in technology resulted in a transformation of the way graphic design looks and how it is executed.

Today, graphic design has become an integral part of many industries. From print media to web design, graphic design is utilized in a multitude of ways to express ideas, draw attention, and create a lasting impression. As technology continues to surge forward and open up even more possibilities, the future of graphic design looks even more promising.

Types of Graphic Design

Graphic design is a wide term that encompasses many different disciplines and styles. Some major and popular types of graphic design include: print design, web design, logo design, typography, and illustration.

Print design includes the design of printed materials, such as flyers and posters. Web design focuses on creating visually appealing websites and user experiences. Logo design involves creating a distinct logo or mark that can be used to represent a company or product. Typography focuses on arranging and selecting fonts. Finally, illustration is the process of creating visual art, such as illustrations for books or advertisements.

These are just a few of the many types of graphic design that have been developed and practiced over the years. By exploring the history of these different design styles, one can gain better insight into the expansive and ever-changing world of graphic design.

Print Design

Print design developed during the period of the Renaissance from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. As the printing press was invented, early forms of graphic design began to emerge in Europe, such as the use of metal type, woodcuts, and engravings. This form of design was used to reproduce illustrated books, advertisements, and other printed works, and eventually to create unique letterforms and illustrations. The creation of metal type and its ability to be easily and quickly rearranged enabled the creation of printed works that were never before possible. From this, many of the early principles of design, such as hierarchy and balance, were developed and refined. Through improvement in printing technology, including lithography, modern print design has been continually evolving since.

Digital Design

Digital design has come to dominate the world of graphic design in recent decades. As the digital revolution began in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, computers, smartphones, and tablets began to become increasingly commonplace. This technology allowed for a shift in the way graphic designers could create, manipulate, and distribute their work, leading to a whole new realm of possibilities.

Computer-aided design programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator allowed designers to rearrange and manipulate images pixel by pixel. Meanwhile, websites and mobile applications created entirely new opportunities for design, with user interfaces, illustrations, and animations now able to be coded and scaled to mobile devices.

The introduction of these digital tools has revolutionized the way graphic design is created, distributed, and experienced. It has also enabled a more rapid and efficient form of visual communication, allowing designers to create and share their work quickly and efficiently with virtually anyone in the world.

Motion Graphics

is a subcategory of Graphic Design which refers to designs that incorporate motion, animation, and sound. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, as technology has advanced and become more accessible to people.

The use of motion graphics has allowed for a more interactive and engaging approach to visual communication, conveying complex ideas in a captivating and dynamic way.

Motion graphics have been used by companies such as Apple and Coca-Cola to create eye-catching advertisements, or to simply add a level of excitement to their products.

Historically, motion graphics has been used to create films, animations, video games and other digital media, but in recent times, it has become increasingly common in a variety of digital platforms.

Influential Graphic Designers

Many influential graphic designers have shaped the history of graphic design. Pioneers such as William Addison Dwiggins, Paul Rand, and Saul Bass have left a lasting legacy.

In the early 1900s, Dwiggins was considered a revolutionary thinker, creating new typography and unique design systems. He is credited for coining the term 'graphic design' in 1922. Paul Rand was a legendary designer who created some of the world's most recognizable logos, such as IBM and ABC. Saul Bass's career included iconic titles sequences for films such as 'Psycho' and 'Goodfellas'.

Throughout history, these three graphic designers have trained us to rethink the way that graphic design can shape a message.

Paul Rand

Paul Rand - Everything is Design
Paul Rand - Everything is Design

was a well-known 20th century graphic designer and art director and is considered to be one of the most influential graphic designers of all time. He had a major influence on the field of graphic design and is credited with popularizing the idea of 'corporate identity' through his designs for several corporate logos, including IBM, ABC and Enron. Paul Rand was also known for his use of colors and geometric shapes in his illustrations, which gave them a distinct, modern look. He inspired generations of graphic designers and his ideas remain highly influential today.

Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister

is a renowned Austrian-born American graphic designer whose work explores a variety of disciplines, including typography, photography, sculpture, and film. Born in Bregenz, Austria, in 1962, Sagmeister studied graphic design in Vienna before moving to New York in 1982 to pursue a career in the field. During the 1990s, Sagmeister was part of the “New Wave” of graphic designers, who sought to bridge the gap between design and art.

Sagmeister’s work is known for its simplicity and minimalism, as well as its bold, experimental approach. His well-known clients include the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, and the Talking Heads. In addition to his commercial work, Sagmeister has also worked with a variety of creative organizations and institutions, such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Sagmeister’s contributions to design and art are still evident in contemporary design today.


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