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What Is Graphic Design: History And Origins

What Is Graphic Design

Graphic design is a profession whose business is the act of designing, programming, and create visual communications, generally produced by industrial means and intended to convey specific messages to specific social groups, with a clear purpose. This is the activity that enables graphically communicate ideas, facts and values processed and synthesized in terms of form and communication, social, cultural, economic, aesthetic and technological. Also known as visual communication design, because some associate the word figure only to the printing industry, and understand that visual messages are channeled through many media, not just print.

Given the massive and rapid growth in the exchange of information, the demand for graphic designers is greater than ever, particularly because of the development of new technologies and the need to pay attention to the human factors that are beyond the competence of engineers who develop them.

Some classifications are widely used graphic design: advertising design, editorial design, corporate identity design, web design, packaging design, typographic design, signage design, multimedia design, among others.

Graphic Design History

The definition of the graphic design profession is rather recent, in what concerns their preparation, their activities and goals. Although there is no consensus on the exact date of the birth of graphic design, some dating during the interwar period. Others understand that begins to identify as such to the late nineteenth century.

Arguably specific graphic communications purposes have their origin in Paleolithic cave paintings and the birth of written language in the third millennium BC. C. But the differences in working methods and training required auxiliary sciences are such that it is not possible to clearly identify the current graphic designer with prehistoric man, with xylograph fifteenth century or the lithographer 1890.

The diversity of opinion reflects the fact that some see as a product of graphic design and all other graphical demonstration only those that arise as a result of the application of a model of industrial production, those visual manifestations that have been "projected" contemplating needs of different types: productive symbolic ergonomic contextual etc.


A page from the Book of Kells: Folio 114, with decorated text contains the Tunc dicit illis. An example of art and page layout of the Middle Ages.

The Book of Kells - A Bible handwritten richly illustrated by Irish monks in the ninth century CE-is for some a very beautiful and early example of graphic design concept. It is a graphic demonstration of great artistic value, high quality, and that even a model for learning to design-for even surpasses in quality to many of the current-editorial productions, and also from a functional point of view contemporary This graphic piece responds to all needs presented the team of people who made it, however others believe that it would be graphic design product, because they understand that their design is not adjusted to the idea of current graphic design project.

The history of typography-and by transitive, also the history of the book-is closely linked to graphic design, this may be because there are virtually no graphics designs that do not include such items graphics. Hence, when talking about the history of graphic design, typography also cited the Trajan column, medieval miniatures, Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, the evolution of the book industry, the posters Parisian Arts Movement and Crafts (Arts and Crafts), William Morris, Bauhaus, etc.. "

The introduction of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg made books cheaper to produce, and facilitate their dissemination. The first printed books (incunabula) scored the role model to the twentieth century. Graphic design of this era has become known as Old Style (especially the typefaces which these early typographers used), or Humanist, due to the predominant philosophical school of the time.

After Gutenberg, no significant changes were seen until the late nineteenth century, particularly in Britain, there was an effort to create a clear division between the fine and applied arts.

In the 19th Century

First page of the book "The Nature of Gothic" by John Ruskin, published by the Kelmscott Press. The Arts and Crafts intended to revive the medieval art, inspiration in nature and manual labor.

During the nineteenth century visual message design was entrusted alternately two professionals: the artist or the publisher. The first was formed as an artist and the second as a craftsman, often both in the same schools of arts and crafts. For the printer as art was the use of ornaments and selecting fonts printed in his compositions. The artist saw typography as a child and paying more attention to ornamental and illustrative elements.

Between 1891 and 1896, the William Morris Kelmscott Press published some of the most significant graphic products Arts and Crafts Movement (Arts and Crafts), and established a lucrative business based on the design of books of great stylistic refinement and selling them to the upper classes as luxury items. Morris proved that a market existed for works of graphic design, establishing the separation of design from production and the fine arts. The work of the Kelmscott Press is characterized by its recreation of historic styles, especially medieval.

Design Schools

Jan Tschichold embodied the principles of modern typography in his 1928 book, New Typography. He later repudiated the philosophy presented in this book, calling it fascist, but remained very influential. Herbert Bayer, who dirigó from 1925-1928 the typography and advertising workshop at the Bauhaus, created the conditions for a new profession: the graphic designer. He put the subject "Advertising" in the education program including, among other things, the analysis of advertising media and the psychology of advertising. Notably, the first to define the term Graphic Design was the designer and typographer William Addison Dwiggins in 1922.

Thus Tschichold, Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, and El Lissitzky became parents of graphic design as we know it today. They pioneered production techniques and styles that have been using later. Today, computers have dramatically altered production systems, but the approach that contributed to experimental design is more relevant than ever dynamism, experimentation and even very specific things like choosing fonts (Helvetica is a revival, originally a Typography design based on the nineteenth-century industrial) and orthogonal compositions.

In the years following the modern style gained acceptance, while stagnated. Notable names in modern design midcentury are Adrian Frutiger, designer of the typefaces Univers and Frutiger, and Josef Müller-Brockmann, large poster of the fifties and sixties.

The Hochschule für Gestaltung (HFG) in Ulm was another key institution in the development of the graphic design profession. Since its founding, the HFG distanced himself from a possible affiliation with advertising. At the beginning, the department concerned was called Visual Design, but it quickly became clear that his current goal was to solve design problems in the area of mass communication in the academic year 1956-1957 the name was changed to Department of Visual Communication, modeled Visual Communication Department at the New Bauhaus in Chicago.2 3 In the HFG Ulm, decided to work primarily in the area of persuasive communication in the fields such as traffic sign systems, plans for technical equipment, or visual translation of scientific content. Until that time were not systematically taught these areas in any other European school. In the early '70s, members of the Bund Deutscher Grafik-Designer (Association of German graphic designers), unveiled several features of their professional identity, as in the case of Anton Stankowski among others. While in 1962 the official definition of the profession was directed almost exclusively to the advertising, now extended to include areas located under the rubric of communication visual.4 corporate images produced by the Development Group 5 of the HFG Ulm such as those created for the firm Braun or airline Lufthansa were also critical to this new professional identity.

Gui Bonsiepe and Tomas Maldonado were two of the first people who tried to apply the design ideas from semantics. In a seminar held at the HFG Ulm in 1956, Maldonado proposed modernizing rhetoric, classical art of persuasion. Maldonado Bonsiepe and then wrote several articles on semiotics and rhetoric for Uppercase English publication and Ulm magazine that would be an important resource for designers to that area. Bonsiepe suggested that it was necessary to have a modern system of rhetoric, semiotics updated as a tool to describe and analyze the phenomena of advertising. Using this terminology, could expose the "ubiquitous structure" of a message publicitario.5

The idea of simplicity and good design feature continued this for many years, not only in the design of alphabets but also in other areas. The tendency to simplify influenced all means at the forefront of design in the 1950s. At that time, developed a consensus that simple, not only was the equivalent of good, but was also more readable equivalent. One of the hardest hit areas was the design of symbols. The designers raised the question of how they could be simplified without destroying its informative function. However, recent investigations have shown that the shape simplification only one symbol does not necessarily increase readability.

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