History of Graphic Design ~ Final Reflection

What’s that? You want to interview me? Oh, well thank you, I’m honored. 😀

– What did you learn? How do you see things differently as a result?

In this class, I came in with a lot of information about Art History, but not as it pertained to graphic design. In the end, I can really see the influences and styles of different graphic design works today and tell them apart and get a specific feel for each one of them. This is different than before, when I grouped all modern graphic design together. This is a subject that really does all tie together at the end, except for typography. I can’t say that I enjoyed that part of this class.

I also learned how to make a blog, as well as several tricks and tips to go along with it. I’m glad someone forced me in to it. (Come on! Fifty points? You’re twisting my arm!) Thanks Kent. 🙂 It’s kind of scary to think of being out there on the web, expressing personal beliefs, ideas, and memories, but it kind of feels good to share your experience in the collective knowledge of the world. I recommend it, if you’re able to not take yourself too seriously.! 🙂
– What did you not learn? Why was the class not valuable to you? How could it have been more valuable?

I feel like the textbook was not the best choice for this class. The typography sections still don’t really seem relevant to me in the context of graphic design. It was also filled with bias and a lot of things were glossed over. Examples were discussed that weren’t pictured in the book. The images included no information about materials or size, which is very helpful when picturing a work. I know a new version of this text came out in November, but I don’t know if even that version will be good enough to teach this class. Since this isn’t a widely taught class and it is a niche interest of sorts, I really think it should have an excellent textbook to go along with it.

I also believe that most students in an online class do not have the discipline to post assignments a day or more early, so the comment section for the blogs did not last as long as I would have liked, and the commenting back and forth between students was not as lively as I would have liked since many people were turning in the assignment past midnight, when not many other people are going to sit around and read and respond to comments. I think making the deadline at 11:55 P.M. or having comments due exactly one day later than the blog will really help the class to beef up the amount of discussion. I know, it’s sad but true.

– What new connections did you make regarding graphic design and the evolution of human culture?

I think that throughout the course of graphic design history that we learned, we watched society mature, develop, and become more intellectual. The people who wanted to send the message started tuning in more to what worked best for the people receiving the message. Conveying information became about legibility, the ability for viewers to quickly recognize a brand presence and understand a message.

– What new interests might you have based on what you’ve been exposed to?

I found some new favorite artists in this class. My favorite artist I discovered in this class was Alex Steinweitz. I love his design sense and his design style. He is inspiring to me. It feels like ratification of my design style and my style tastes in general.

– How will you apply what you’ve learned to experiencing life, your understanding of other disciplines, your future career?

When I work for a corporate fashion company, all of the different styles and influences I learned in this class will certainly give me more tools to achieve a certain mood and/or style for a particular brand, collection, or item.

– What is the future of graphic design?

I believe the future of graphic design has already started. Interactivity, things in a TRON-like style and definitely individual-customer-tailored advertising are things that are coming into center focus now. If I visit a fashion website online, I get scrolling ads that remind me of the items I was viewing, recommended just for me! It’s kind of creepy precise haha.


Well, I guess it’s come to the time to scroll down and view my blog! I focused on personal connections to the artwork in the book, so most of the ideas expressed in this blog carry my bias, but really what other way is there to have a personalized blog? There’s one for each of ten weeks, where I sat and thought about the lessons contained in the chapter and drew out the good bits for ya 😉 Well, at least according to me! Haha! Please enjoy. ( : Feel free to leave me a response!


History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 10

The last two chapters of the textbook… we have finally arrived. The thing I realized was that in these two chapters, my reaction was completely different than it would have been had I looked at these images before reading the rest of the book. I would have seen them as diverse examples of modern design, but now I see them for what they really are – a mash-up of bits and pieces of past artistic styles, movements, and experiments.

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 9

Chapter 21 is where graphic designers get real inventive and start using the image as the main talking point rather than the words that the images had before accompanied. The images expressed feelings, ideas, and abstract concepts. As this technique developed, artists began to experiment with their own personal variations to avoid the staleness of a state style or a traditional style. One of these people is Waldemar Swierzy.

Ulica Hanby poster - Waldmar Swierzy, 1959. Image Credit to cinemaposter.com

Ulica Hanby poster - Waldmar Swierzy, 1959. Image Credit to cinemaposter.com

Swierzy has a painterly style that is able to express emotion and emphasis, similar to the work of Expressionists. Swierzy put a lot of work into his art, making many versions and pre-study sketches to make sure that the final image was conveying exactly what he wanted it to. An example from the book that I particularly like is image 21-11, a poster for Ulica Hanby. I like the way that her face vanishes below her eyes and we see her bright red lips pop against the dark background and then carry down into the text of the poster. I also like how the simple palette of colors is repeated throughout the picture, and that each color isn’t just in one area.

Another set of images that I found really interesting were the photographs 21-59 through 21-62. Yes- these are actually photographs! Robert Massin would deconstruct photos taken by his collaborator Henry Cohen and reassemble them along with a variety of typefaces to visually display Eugene Ionesco’s play, La cantatrice chauve.

Robert Massin and Henry Cohen, pages from <italics>La cantatrice chauve</italics>, by Eugene Ionesco. Image credit to lccmagd.wordpress.com

Robert Massin and Henry Cohen, pages from La cantatrice chauve, by Eugene Ionesco. Image credit to lccmagd.wordpress.com

The character placements and names are represented by the high-contrast photographs. Additionally, each character is assigned his or her own typeface, in which all of their lines are written, in varying font sizes according to the volume in which they should be recited. When all of this had been assembled as desired, another picture would be taken to create the final page.  I love the look of these photos and how they were able to create such a visual energy and contrast, as well as be made with great simplicity, yet so well define the characters costume and look. It looks as if these charasters are taken out of the faded negatives of a period drama, yet this work was made in 1964!

Robert Massin and Henry Cohen, pages from La cantatrice chauve, by Eugene Ionesco. Image credit to xponto.wordpress.com

Robert Massin and Henry Cohen, pages from La cantatrice chauve, by Eugene Ionesco. Image credit to xponto.wordpress.com

This body of work really astounds me when I think of all the work that went into this and the techniques that were used- how innovative and different they were and yet how well they paid off and made a dramatic statement that works! It is inspiring to see.

Finally, I want to talk about Anthon Beeke. He was a member of Fluxus, a reallyinteresting group of Neo-Dadaists in the 1960’s who performed “happenings”, among other things, which were similar to today’s flash mobs, but were stranger in content. These events weren’t advertised as a performance art but instead were meant to just “happen” with all the members of the happening meeting up and performing a set of actions, and whoever saw or didn’t see, that was how it was. It also questioned the say-so of the fine art world ans what could be called art. One group met up to lick jelly off the hood of a car before it was set on fire. Would an onlooker consider this art? There were other forms in which Fluxus art occurred, but the feeling and the strangeness as one thinks deeper into the events occurring and how onlookers wonder why, with some perturbation and bemusement, and with no definite answer given, is the essence of the reaction these Fluxus works were designed to evoke.

Happening - Alan Kaprow, 1964. Image Credit to foodinthearts.blogspot.com

Happening - Alan Kaprow, 1964. Image Credit to foodinthearts.blogspot.com -I found this photo by remembering the year it was taken from when I learned about it in my Contemporary Art History Class. Yeah! I feel like a pro. ( ;

Anthon Beeke’s two posters for theatrical productions on page 461, Images 22-38 and 22-39, were created in the same provocateur mindset. They are strange and the more one looks in to them, the more questions one has. One appears to be a flower with a face for a center, but further inspection reveals a bloody, staring face surrounded by tattered seagull feathers.The other is a skull that stares with white pupils through a red bar mask. Its teeth are made into the name of the play. These two designs create questions for the viewer which they might go see the play to have answered. There can be a whole psychological discussion about how each of these posters represents their respective production and why. They draw the viewer in on an intellectual level.

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 8

Greetings! The reading this week taught about the beginnings of modern design in America. Because of the events of WWI, many European artists and intellectuals sought refuge in the United States. Once here, they continued their crafts. Although unappreciated at first, these artists were eventually able to garner the reception and understanding audience for modern art that the Armory Show had been unable to create in America back in 1913. This new wave of design started in New York with the New York School. I really appreciate the aesthetics, ingenuity, and graphic simplicity that characterize Paul Rand’s work.  Rand was overall the first initiator of the American modern graphic design trend. His work is still appreciated today. Images 19-2, 19-4, and 19-7 are some examples from our text that I particularly like.

One image that particularly drew my attention was image 19-14. It is an album

Alex Steinweiss - Cover for Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 Image Credit to letterology.blogspot.com

Alex Steinweiss - Cover for Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 Image Credit to letterology.blogspot.com

cover created by Alex Steinweiss for  Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in 1949. I really love it. It looks like a scrapbook page, I love the curling letters that look like they were drawn free hand, the colors, the scrapwork quality. Apparently Steinweiss made most of his album covers in this style. He is considered the inventor of the album cover (www.alexsteinweiss.com)

I did a quick Google image search and found so many pictures-  this style of artwork is similar to mine and looks a lot like toys I had as a child, such as Ello playsets, the illustrations of the Happy Hocky Family, and the computer game Ciao Bella.

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 7

Egg Chair - Arne Jacobsen, 1958 Image Credit to lysvintage.blogspot.com

Egg Chair - Arne Jacobsen, 1958 Image Credit to lysvintage.blogspot.com

The two chapters this week were a lot about typography again and the images didn’t really catch my eye; however, they were easy to draw personal relations to. I think that it’s because we have reached the point in time that contains art that people of my generation consider “old” and “outdated”. To me this stuff looks likemagazines and art my grandma would have around her house stashed away in a drawer or hanging in her living room. And it’s kind of true. My grandma was in her teens through thirties when this art was being made. She even to this day has an extensive collection of designer furniture including about 5 or 6 large designer chairs that she kept when she sold her house and moved into a small two bedroom apartment. She calls them “classics” and designs that never go out of style. The other day I was having a conversation with her armed with the knowledge of the design sensibilities of the modern movement era from chapter 17. I tried to explain to her that these pieces of furniture were really “of their time” since they lost mass appeal after the 1940’s and 1950’s, that her pieces inspired mass-produced versions, and that when that died off in popularity, the era of that type of design was over, and the appeal is now reserved to a few art and designer furniture enthusiasts. She countered that she had “bought these pieces from Scandinavian countries overseas 10 or 20 years before they became popular in the states.” She was born in the 1920’s, so she had to have bought them in the 40’s and 50’s. Yes grandma, you’re such a hipster.

Yellow Womb Chair - Eero Saarinen, Created Exclusively for Knoll, 1948. My aunt is trying to get my grandma to recover this in new Knoll fabrics, but she's disappointed they don't sell mustard yellow anymore. Image Credit to liveauctioneers.com

Yellow Womb Chair - Eero Saarinen, Created Exclusively for Knoll, 1948. My aunt is trying to get my grandma to recover this in new Knoll fabrics, but she's disappointed they don't sell mustard yellow anymore. Image Credit to liveauctioneers.com

Another thing I found interesting out of the reading this week was the first map for

Map of London Underground, Henry C. Beck, 1933. Image Credit to probertencyclopaedia.com

Map of London Underground, Henry C. Beck, 1933. Click to enlarge. Image Credit to probertencyclopaedia.com

the London Underground system, drawn by Henry C. Beck in 1933. This was the first map of its kind, to sue a diagram type map that was not to scale, but instead made so that complex interchanges would be legible. The different lines were represented by their own colors, with each stop labeled and facing the same way for easy reading. This map design is something that I personally, and ‘m sure many people today, take for granted. We expect this. How could we get around transportation systems without one? For example, take he current map of the metro rail lines in Los Angeles. You can click to get a larger view.

Map of Metro Rail Lines in Los Angeles. Image Credit to metro.net

Map of Metro Rail Lines in Los Angeles. Image Credit to metro.net

Don’t the two maps looks extremely similar? The is no denying that this map was inspired by Beck’s map  of the London Underground. The lines are even names after the colors they are on the map- The Red Line, The Orange Line, The Blue Line. This whole transportation system is paying homage to Beck’s creation.

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 6

When I read through the chapters for this week’s assigned reading, I noticed a lot of overlap with what I had been taught in my contemporary art history class, especially chapter 13. Most of the time I didn’t have to even look at the image to know what they were referring to. In chapter 14, my eye was caught by the poster work of Ludwig Hohlwein. (Images 14-31, 14-33) In the clothing poster, I really love the use of the patterns for the mens’ clothes, and the way they fill in the space of the clothing but don’t fold or fit to the mens’ bodies, giving a very 2-D looking effect. To have these handsome prints added to the drawing that was made to look contoured and 3-D is a striking effect .I also really love the way he color-blocked the shadows on the wounded soldiers’ face and jacket. It is such a bold line, but it really has an emotional life-like look to it. He was a very talented artist, and I can see how his affiliation with Hitler hurt his career.

Metropolis Movie Poster, 1927- Schultz-Neumann. Image credit to allposters.co.uk

Metropolis Movie Poster, 1927- Schultz-Neumann. Image credit to allposters.co.uk

Another image that I was really dazzled by is the Metropolis poster by Schulz-Neudamm. It just screams art-deco, 1930’s. I can also see where a lot of things may have gotten their reference from. For example, lets pick the most obvious one: not the city of Metropolis, but it’s sister city, the city of Gotham. The town depicted in the modern-day Batman animated series looks incredibly similar to the one in the metropolis poster. Take a look for yourself. The second possible inspiration I thought of immediately was C3PO from star wars- take a look- The color, the band around the head, the point at the top and the nubs sticking out for ears…The things this poster has inspired have created legacies of their own.
Gotham Cityscape created for Batman: the Animated Series. Image Credit: scoop.diamondgalleries.com

Gotham Cityscape created for Batman: the Animated Series. Image Credit: scoop.diamondgalleries.com

C3PO, Image Credit to collectibles.bidstart.com

C3PO, Image Credit to collectibles.bidstart.com

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 5

Wow, who would have thought that two chapters could contain so many enticing things? When I took 2-D design, we had to do an Art-Nouveau-Inspired project by creating our own stamps in natural plantlike shapes that looked like they belonged to Art Nouveau.

An example of my work

An example of my work

What it really was though, was arts-and-crafts inspired, like the images on page 170 of our textbook. Because of this experience, I thought that Art Nouveau wasn’t that great, but the images in our book are gorgeous! 🙂 I have a collection of the posters with the cats on them, like the Chat Noir (11-28) and the milk advertisement. (11-30) My favorite one I have is this one by Adolphe Leon Willette:

Exposition poster, Adolphe Willette, Image credit to martinlawrence.com

Exposition poster, Adolphe Willette, Image credit to martinlawrence.com

I was also fascinated by the images from the publication Ver Sacrum. The page layouts and attention to detail and the way the text blends with the overall look of the page is really mesmerizing. I would love to have a copy of one of the issues to hold in my hands and look through. I also think that the square layout was ingenious. It was unique and it really worked. I love how it really allows for perfect symmetry and harmony. In one image (11-29) , the figures look very contemporary. I could see them fitting in to a fashion publication perfectly. I love the fact that all of the different issues and articles in this magazine were so unique in their design and content and subject matter. It is really creative, a wellspring of inspiration. When can I get my copy!? Haha.

Josef Hoffmann, Women Bookplate, printed in Ver Sacrum 1903. Image credit to exlibris-austria.com

Josef Hoffmann, Women Bookplate, printed in Ver Sacrum 1903. Image credit to exlibris-austria.com

Another thing that really struck a chord with me were the simplified, black-and-white, planar women in images by Aubrey Beardsley and Josef Hoffman such as (11-20) and (12-31) Something about them is so evocative about their frame, even though the forms are very simplified. The intuitive lines are really powerful at getting the point across through simplicity in execution. Finally, I also wanted to talk about the artist Jessie Marion King. You can see a sample of his work  (12-5) on page 224 in the textbook. I love the delicate, frenzied lines that evoke a sense of tangled romance, of wilting but stayed women. I read a manga called Bizenghast, and every page is like a fairy tale of these elements, with a Victorian morbidity. These types of images really appeal to me.

Bizenghast Book 1 Cover. Image Credit to gallery.minitokyo.net

Bizenghast Book 1 Cover. Image Credit to gallery.minitokyo.net

Ballroom Scene, Bizenghast Image Credit to MangaFox.com

Ballroom Scene, Bizenghast Image Credit to MangaFox.com

Jessie Marion King, image from High History of the Holy Graal. image credit to nocloo.com

Jessie Marion King, image from High History of the Holy Graal. image credit to nocloo.com

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 4

This week we got to read about some of the things I consider to be graphic design, as well as some more about modern type design. I was especially excited to get to read about Victorian typefaces, design, sentimentality, and advertisements. I really love that period in time and I feel like it is really similar to my sentimentality. I love the fanciful fonts and borders. It is like Rococo design, but more approachable. The book also mentions “scrap” collecting, or collections people made of “beautiful art bits”. I remember reading the American girl books about Samantha as a child. Although her story was based a few years later than the period covered in this chapter, a lot of the Victorian sensibilities were incorporated into her story. I loved reading about that time period. Samantha had a hatbox filled with little scrap bits that she would fashion cards and decorative pages out of. She would also cut her own scrap bits out of paper and make shapes like hearts and snowflakes.

Victorian Scrap

Some pieces of scrap. Image credit to myartsdesire.typepad.com

To this day I still have and collect bins of “beautiful art bits” and when I was younger I would scrapbook and incorporate pieces of my scraps, or make collages specifically to show off my scrap bits and pieces. These two images are from myartsdesire.typepad.com I highly recommend this blog if you are into this sort of sentimental design. There is some gorgeous eye candy there.

Victorian Scrap Book

Victorian Scrap Book. Image credit to myartsdesire.typepad.com

Additionally, the image of the title page for The Essay on Walt Whitman on page 179 looks so familiar to me I sat and searched for a long time to try and remember why but I can’t remember. If anyone knows where this image has been recently (In the last 40-30 years) please let me know. It’s bothering me.

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 3

This week we continued learning about typographic design. Although I still think that this subject should have its own separate book, I am hanging on for the connection to be made to what I view as being graphic design. There were a few aesthetically pleasing page layouts and fonts that I enjoyed, such as fonts by Aldus Manutius, Christoffel van Dyck, Louis Simonneau, and especially Pierre Simon Fournier le Jeune. I love the rococo period of French history. The floweriness and Victorian-like sensibility of the art created during that period from 1720-1770 is really pretty to look at and is capable of holding attention for a long time, as the eye traces its complex lines and jumps from one pattern to the next and sees how the patterns compliment each other.

I was also happy to find a few things that were interesting to me on the very first page of our reading for this week. The first word of chapter 5 in our text is the word Xylography- the technical term for the relief printing from a raised surface that originated in Asia.(Like Japanese Woodblock Printing!) This term would be an excellent word to use if you ever had to play the alphabet game. Everyone always picks either xerox, xylophone, or x-ray for X. This word would be impressive. I also think it was interesting that an illuminated manuscript or a hand-drawn book was worth as much as a farm or a vineyard- that’s a lot of money! And to have a private citizen own about 20 of those is really remarkable. There were some serious bibliophiles back then.

The Oldest Printing Press in the World

The Oldest Printing Press in the World! Image Credit to Adam Twardoch, Flickr

The other thing that I thought was interesting was the fact that the town of Antwerp bought the house/printing firm of the Plantin/Moretus family in 1876 and turned it into a museum. There are two printing presses there that date back almost 500 years to when Christophe Plantin himself was working there! That would be so cool to see where they worked and lived and all of the old mechanical instruments and machinery.

Leather Ink Dauber

The leather "ball" used to daub on ink. Image credit Adam Twardoch, Flickr

History of Graphic Design ~ Field Journal 2

This week it seemed like it was all about typography. I do think typography has a design aspect and it does stem from pictographs and other representational images, but taking it as far as describing alphabets and the evolution of characters seems out of place here for me. Some things struck me as interesting, as in how in some ancient writing systems there was no standard direction for reading and writing, like when the Greeks adopted the boustrophedon writing style for a time and the direction switched every line from right to left to left to right. Can you imagine what a headache that would be if you lost your place on the page or in your reading? You’d almost have to start all over again just to know which way to interpret the symbols. The fact that the ancestors of our written language today didn’t leave any space between words if also surprising. That would make reading so much slower as for each word you’d have to figure out where it stopped and the next one started as you went along, rather than just taking in one cluster of letters as a group to be interpreted subconsciously like we do today.

I think that the simplest and most smartly designed written language that we have read about so far is the Korean Hangul language. I wonder if it is still in use today. It is so straightforward and simple, it seems like it would be easy to learn. Definitely no problems with spelling either! I have always been interested in Egyptology, so to learn more about the Egyptian hieroglyphs was interesting to me. How interesting that they spelled Cleopatra with a “K”; She is from Egypt, so we have been spelling it wrong all along. Why hasn’t anyone bothered trying to correct this yet? She is arguably the most widely known person in Egyptian history, maybe even more so than King Ramses II or King Tut.

One thing I do like in textbooks that try to be as thorough as possible are the unsolved mysteries that are presented, such as the Phaistos Disk on page 19 of our textbook. It makes me feel like maybe one day I can uncover the meaning and solve one of these mysteries.

Phaistos Disc

Image Credit to atlantipedia.ie

It’s also interesting that the Chinese were making printed pages and copies of text quickly and much less painstakingly up to hundreds of years before Western Civilization ever figured out that trick. But we also had a lot better luck with moveable type than they did, so I guess we’re even.

The illuminated manuscripts in chapter 4 look so pretty to the eyes, but they also make me feel like if I touch them I’m going to get a disease or die of the black plague. It feels like they are made in such different reality than ours today, like these pages were made to be worshiped, revered, and feared, like life was dim and every struggle was like carving your way through a stone.

Seeing these pages, though, reminded me of when I went through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle on my last visit to Disneyland. The walk-though exhibit is curated by hand-drawn manuscript pages that tell you the story of Sleeping Beauty and are made to seem like a book that is turning its pages as you go along in the exhibit.

I remember being very impressed by these pages, and I felt they really set the storybook mood. Looking back at them now after reading Chapter 4, I have to admit how simplified and Disney-fied they look compared to the intricate designs shown in our textbook, but this is also an example of how a past art form inspired a current art project. To a novice or to the general public, I think they do a good job of illustrating the idea of an illuminated manuscript in an accessible format.

I’ll see you again next week!  : )