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How much has graphic design evolved over the last 100 years?

By October 2, 2018 No Comments

Graphic design is the apex factor for the successful brand and business awareness. The two, compounded words of ‘graphic design’ were first published in 1922 and derived from the skill or combine both images and text to create visually attractive advertisements and brand recognition.

Although the definition was founded in 1922, the trade has been around for quite some while and this blog will be discussing how it has shaped and evolved over the past 100 years. Graphic design has dramatically changed since its first ever use and this comes from both human and technological influences.

1906 – Xerox

To begin with, Xerox existed to produce photographic paper, which was provided to printing and graphics companies across New York. Although their growth wasn’t revolutionary they did contribute to the evolution of graphic design in the fact they invented a number of technologies, which soon came to be of great importance.

Xerox brought ‘The Graphical User Interface’, the computer mouse and Ethernet into existence. The GUI was the introduction of visually interacting with a computer using features such as windows, icons and drop-down menus implemented with modern, operating systems.

1910 – Expressionism Graphics

Soon after the Arts & Crafts and Glasgow movement of visual design, Expressionism arrived and made way for distorted illustrations for advertisements with faces and landscapes being designed in an ‘odd way’, all in attempt to provoke emotion. After 2 years of developing upon this movement, Vorticism soon briefly made it into the trade of graphic design, this style greatly reflected the impressionistic concept.


In the early 1920’s the idea of digital media was progressing rapidly and it came to people’s attention that it was forming from the 500-year old traditions of printing, commercial publishing, advertisement developments and photography – along with some idea implementation from influential designers. Herbert Bayer founded the ‘printing and advertising’ workshop known as ‘Druck und Reklame’ around 1925 and from there, his designs were influenced by the Bauhaus design style.

Graphic design around this time was effectively demonstrated and explained to printers and advertisement designers, using written and illustrations.

1925 – New Typography

Back in 1925, this movement was revolutionary when it was introduced, it brought graphics and written information to the top, becoming highly recognised throughout Central Europe. This method of design involved organising the advertisement as a blank page in which blocks of content and imagery could be arranged in oddly, positioned compositions. Immediately publishers and printing agencies adapted on this style to make smaller media advertisements including business cards and brochures for magazines, opening the world to a whole new perspective of ‘graphic ‘design’.

1939 – HP (Hewlett-Packard)

This great company notorious for supplying printers originally began in a garage with the first product being producer known as an ‘audio oscillator’. However, soon little did Hewlett know, he would invent the very first device to ever be known as the personal computer.

1945 – Late Modernism

This art for graphic design implementations around this time, derived mostly from art made after World War II and within the 21st century. This phase was considered to be one of the ultimate methods of modern art yet; artists were predominant that work still had an element of cubism and expressionism in all graphics work, creating emotional designs and following an almost ‘futuristic’ approach towards illustrations and content.

1950 – Pop Art

The popular, vibrant style of pop art really did have heads turning back when this form of graphic design came into play. This form of illustration was designed to reflect the culture and traditional views towards what art should be, influencing a lot of self-innovation and expressive attitudes from designers. A lot of character and unique personas were developed within this period and graphics were brought to life for the first time.

1975 – Postmodern Graphic Design

Around this year many designers began implementing modernism into their designs, especially agencies that focused on architectural and product-based services. Around this stage, designers began to violate the rules of grid patterns and explored the use of historical and ornamental elements to create unique, design concepts.

1990 – The introduction of Photoshop 1.0

After the Photoshop 1.0 came into existence, graphic design was changed forever. Imaginative and effective images with a polaroid aesthetic came into existence, the posters for Jurassic Park and Mastercard’s logo were invented through the use of the Photoshop application and had effective colours implemented into their design. Controlled chaos and new simplicity also began around this time, leading to developers beginning to modernise their designs and add a more realistic effect. Colours and morphology were used cleverly to portray certain ideas and produce charismatic graphic designs.

2000 – Modern Graphic Design

From the year 2000 and to present, graphic design has introduced advanced and complex applications and ideas to create mesmerising and cleverly thought of designs to promote businesses and events. Graphic design presently has introduced the concepts of modern-day PhotoShop, compounding separate images to create unique masterpieces unique to a set business.

Overall, graphic design has come a long way and it’s been the help of independent entrepreneurs and fine art styles that have helped shape the individualities produce by graphic designers. Although the name of this trade wasn’t invented until 1922, its progression has been around since BC times and it continues to adept furthermore every day.

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