A Century of Graphic Design

For almost a century, graphic design has been effectively combining typography, visual arts and page layout to deliver a message to the target audience. The term was first coined by illustrator, calligrapher and commercial artist William Addison Dwiggins in 1922, but it has been around since the beginning of human kind. Today, you can see eye-catching and memorable designs in domains such as identity and branding, publications, advertising and product packaging.

In every field, there  are a handful of people  that have contributed greatly to the innovation and  evolution of the industry they belong to. The world of graphic design would not be the same without the contributions of these legendary figures:

1. Charles Csuri

Known as the “Father of Computer Graphics”, Charles or “Chuck” Csuri started exploring computer graphics technology in 1964. A year later, he was already creating computer graphic films. He has made his mark  on the fields of computer animation and graphics, as the product of his decades-long research is now used in computer-aided designs, magnetic resonance imaging, flight simulators, special effects and architecture.

2. Jan Tschichold

Through his designs and published works, Jan Tschichold (1902-1974) greatly contributed to the field of typography. Tschichold’s 1928 book titled New Typography established the foundations of modern typography as we know it. His creations are inspired by Serif-less typefaces and simple layouts, drawing from the new Bauhaus typography. Some of his other notable published works include Elementare Typographie (1925) and Typografische Gestaltung (1935).

3. Saul Bass

The name of Saul Bass (1920-1996) is synonymous to memorable designs created for both films and world-renowned companies. With his academic and professional background in the arts, Bass created designs for film titles influenced by his close associations with filmmakers such as Hitchcock, Scorsese, and Preminger. His firm Saul Bass & Associates created identities for Minolta, United Airlines, AT&T, Quaker Oats, Bella and Warner Communications—many of which still exist today.

4. William Bernbach

Widely known in the field of American advertising, William Bernbach (1911-1982) was one of the prime movers of the Creative Revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. His signature style focused on creativity and offbeat themes, effectively challenging the orthodox style of his contemporaries. He was one of the three founders of Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) and led numerous ad campaigns like “It’s So Simple” for Polaroid and “Think Small” for the Volkswagen Beetle.

5. Thomas Knoll

Together with his brother John, Thomas Knoll initiated the development of one of the most widely used photo-editing software in the world—Adobe Photoshop. It all started from his high-school hobby, where Thomas learned the basics of photography. During his doctorate, Thomas developed the code “Display” but  thought it had limited value. Contrary to his initial assessment, however, “Display” was used as the first code for Photoshop.

6. John Knoll

More than being one of the creators of Photoshop, John Knoll carries a stellar career in the visual effects sector of the film industry. He is most renowned as the Visual Effects Supervisor for award-winning movies including the Star Wars prequels, the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy, a couple of Star Trek movies, the Pirates of the Caribbean series and The Abyss.

7. Paul Rand

Paul Rand (1914-1996) was best known for his corporate logo designs that are still in use today. Regarded as one of the pioneers of graphic design, Rand created memorable logos for companies such as ABC, Apple and IBM.  For more than fifty years in the industry, Rand also authored a number of influential books like A Designer’s Art (1985) and Thoughts on Design (1947).

8. Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser took on a wide variety of projects in the course of his career. With designs branded by simplicity and directness, Glaser created album covers, advertisements, book jackets, magazine illustrations and direct mail pieces. Some of his famous works include co-founding the New York Magazine the “I ♥ NY” campaign, the “Bob Dylan” poster and the “DC Bullet” logo. He taught in art schools and won several awards. His works were also displayed in a number of prestigious museums worldwide.

9. Edmund Arnold

Regarded as the “Father of Modern Newspaper Design”, Edmund Arnold (1913-2007) worked as an editor and typographer for hundreds of newspapers. With his stellar career in the industry of typographic redesign, Arnold received the George Polk Memorial Award in 1957. Aside from newspapers, Arnold also founded the Society for News Design and contributed to the academy during his teaching stint at the School of Journalism at Syracuse University in the 1960’s.

10. William Golden

William Golden (1911-1959) is most famously known for his work as the Creative Director for the Columbia Broadcasting System, where he designed the famous CBS eye. His work has withstood the test of time, as his advertising and promotional designs proved to be simple yet innovative. Golden was one of the names who spearheaded the emergence of graphic design in the post-World War II era.

1 Comment
Bournemouth Web Designer

Fascinating article, great read. thanks

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