Graphic Design History

Graphic Design History: Italian Renaissance

Venice, Italy

Centered in Venice, Italy, this time of “rebirth” which began in the 14th and 15th centuries would show innovations in typography, book design, page layout, ornamentation, and illustration.

Mark for the society of Venetian printers, 1481

facsimile of the title page from Nicolo Zoppino’s book Convivio delle belle bonne

Convergence of Cultures

Venice, Italy was the gateway of trade for Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, India and the far east. This convergence influenced Italian style of the time. This was a time when printers made their mark, starting with Johannes de Spira in the 1400s to Nicolas Jenson, Laurentius de Rubeis and Pere Miguel. The Floral decoration was popular at this time. Erhard Ratdolt made significant innovations in the printing press. Some pattern forms of the period were influenced by Islamic cultural aesthetics. The introduction and evolution of the printing press meant that they were taking the spot that manuscripts had once held. This led to the decline of manuscript writing and a growth of the printing industry that would expand out to France. The 16th century is known as “the golden age for French Typography”

Robert Estiennes Bible in latin, 1545.

The Roman typeface

During this time. Gothic and Garamond type were used extensively. Robert Granjon is considered to be one of the most original of the designers in his use of the Garamond roman typefaces. His work became so popular that from 1550 to the 17th century, most designers referred to his typefaces.

Granjon Gros Cicero, by Claude Lamesle, 1742

Copperplate 

During the 1700’s copperplate engraving became popular, this allowed for refined images and printing techniques which created excellent printed works. The copperplate made it easier for people to have artwork in their homes, who would otherwise not  be able to afford expensive oil paintings and works of art.

Copperplate etching, 1700’s

Censorship

During the Renaissance era, censorship of materials was strengthened and was of increasing concern fro the authorities. Despite the taxation and censorship of printed materials, printing was growing and was established in the Americas within the 13 colonies.

A Page of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, printed by Aldus Manutius in 1499.

Learn more about Graphic Design History of the Italian Renaissance at:

http://www.designhistory.org/Type_milestones_pages/Renaissance.html

http://www.csun.edu/~pjd77408/DrD/Art461/LecturesAll/Lectures/lecture03a.html

First Things First 2000 a design manifesto

First Things First 2000
a design manifesto

manifesto published jointly by 33 signatories in:
Adbusters, the AIGA journal, Blueprint, Emigre, Eye, Form, Items
fall 1999 / spring 2000

We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, art directors and visual communicators who have been raised in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable use of our talents. Many design teachers and mentors promote this belief; the market rewards it; a tide of books and publications reinforces it.

Encouraged in this direction, designers then apply their skill and imagination to sell dog biscuits, designer coffee, diamonds, detergents, hair gel, cigarettes, credit cards, sneakers, butt toners, light beer and heavy-duty recreational vehicles. Commercial work has always paid the bills, but many graphic designers have now let it become, in large measure, what graphic designers do. This, in turn, is how the world perceives design. The profession’s time and energy is used up manufacturing demand for things that are inessential at best.

Many of us have grown increasingly uncomfortable with this view of design. Designers who devote their efforts primarily to advertising, marketing and brand development are supporting, and implicitly endorsing, a mental environment so saturated with commercial messages that it is changing the very way citizen-consumers speak, think, feel, respond and interact. To some extent we are all helping draft a reductive and immeasurably harmful code of public discourse.

There are pursuits more worthy of our problem-solving skills. Unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises demand our attention. Many cultural interventions, social marketing campaigns, books, magazines, exhibitions, educational tools, television programs, films, charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help.

We propose a reversal of priorities in favor of more useful, lasting and democratic forms of communication – a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning. The scope of debate is shrinking; it must expand. Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design.

In 1964, 22 visual communicators signed the original call for our skills to be put to worthwhile use. With the explosive growth of global commercial culture, their message has only grown more urgent. Today, we renew their manifesto in expectation that no more decades will pass before it is taken to heart.
signed:

Jonathan Barnbrook
Nick Bell
Andrew Blauvelt
Hans Bockting
Irma Boom
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Max Bruinsma
Siân Cook
Linda van Deursen
Chris Dixon
William Drenttel
Gert Dumbar
Simon Esterson
Vince Frost
Ken Garland
Milton Glaser
Jessica Helfand
Steven Heller
Andrew Howard
Tibor Kalman
Jeffery Keedy
Zuzana Licko
Ellen Lupton
Katherine McCoy
Armand Mevis
J. Abbott Miller
Rick Poynor
Lucienne Roberts
Erik Spiekermann
Jan van Toorn
Teal Triggs
Rudy VanderLans
Bob Wilkinson

Graphic Design History: Art Nouveau – 20th century

Art Nouveau (French – “New Art”) was a aesthetic of the late 18th century to the early 19th century that questioned the very nature of aesthetics. As art and design moved toward the modern era, Art Nouveau was a truly international style that maintained strong aesthetics despite of industrialization. Artists such as Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are great examples.

Savonnerie De Bagnolet By Alphonse Maria Mucha

Savonnerie De Bagnolet
By Alphonse Maria Mucha

http://www.alfonsmucha.org/Savonnerie-De-Bagnolet.html

The Japanese Ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) design movement was a major influence on the western art world during this time period, and this was a driving influence in Art Nouveau. Ukiyo-e is expressive and organic line art which remained an important design aesthetic in Japan for centuries. Unlike the arts and craft movement, Art Nouveau was not just focused on the small time artist or craftsman. Art Nouveau also translated to everyday objects, furniture and architecture, to stained glass and well known for the poster ads of the era.

Some artists and designers of the time such as the The Glasgow Four  preferred the aesthetics of Geometry to the sometimes heavily floral embellishments of Art Nouveau. The Vienna Secession was another group that experimented with spatial relationships and layout design. This experimental era was the advent of modern design.

KUNISADA (1786-1864)  From the series "The fifty-three stations of the Tôkaidô" (with portraits of actors) - 1852  Signature: Toyokuni

KUNISADA (1786-1864)
From the series “The fifty-three stations of the Tôkaidô” (with portraits of actors) – 1852
Signature: Toyokuni

http://www.secutor.se/ukiyo-e/umaxi009.jpg
See Art Nouveau posters at http://www.internationalposter.com/style-primer/art-nouveau.aspx
Check out Japanese wood block printing at http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm
 

Graphic Design History: The printing press in Medieval Europe

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Wood block printing technology transformed graphic design in Europe beginning in the 1400’s. This allowed for written materials to be available to more then just the rich elite. Traditional scribing methods which took considerable artistry and time commitment now gave way to woodblock printing. This enabled faster and easier to produce printed materials. This is what defines early graphic design in Europe. One well known example: the Gutenberg bible. Johannes Gutenberg is largely credited with the creation of movable type.

During this time graphic design was flourishing in Italy, though Germany remained the heart of the early printing industry for a good while. During this era, graphic design shows an aesthetic that included the liberal use of decorative flourish designs, and because this was an early transition from Calligraphy and traditional scribing methods, the aesthetic of typography of the time had a calligraphy feel. This technological shift also coincided with political and religious shifts and graphic design today as it was back then is a reflection of the social, political and technological climate of the times.

Example of 1500’s woodblock print.

15th Century German woodcut print

from http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/137643/enlarge
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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/402650022905429529/
Flourish from http://rlv.zcache.com/abstract_vintage_medieval_swirly_flourish_design_postcard-rf80c1b79534a4d74afeb978d48a52de7_vgbaq_8byvr_512.jpg