Although web design is a comparatively recent innovation, graphic design has existed as long as Mankind itself. In order to, as Albert Einstein said, “stand on the shoulders of giants”, an artist or engineer needs to know the developments that led up to the current state of his chosen profession. We would like to share a brief history of our two favorite disciplines with you.
Graphic design can be said to have begun from the moment early humans began etching on cave walls. With the evolution of human civilization, graphic design was used to decorate utensils, buildings, textiles that had a religious or cultural significance, and many other objects and environments.
The term graphic design and the profession that it indicated, however, did not come into being in all earnest till the dawn of mediums like photography, typing, prints, videography etc. to describe people working in general print design and book design industry. Here is a quick guide to the evolution of graphic design in the modern era.
- Beginning of human civilization: Humans use graphic design for decorations and to symbolize power.
- Classical Greco-Roman period: Flags and coins with the faces of emperors were perhaps the first examples of logos and branding.
- 1436 – German metal-worker Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg invents the printing press. Just a few years after Gutenberg prints his first Bible, printing presses are set up all over Europe, thus sparking a cultural revolution.
- 19th Century: British publisher William Morris commercializes graphic design, and publishes books with stylized printings and illustrations.
- Early 20th Century: William Addison Dwiggins coins the term “graphic design”
- The Mass Media Revolution: As mass media connects the world ever closer together, there is an increased demand for graphic designers in the entertainment world, corporations and print shops that cater to newspapers, magazines, movies, books and advertising agencies. Graphic design is now widely used in print, packaging and advertising.
- 1928: Jan Tschicold releases his book “New Typography” in Germany, presenting a collection of commonly used font styles of the period.
- 1900 – 1937: Morris Fuller Benton is the chief designer for American Type Founders (ATF). He creates 221 typefaces, including his original designs Hobo, Bank Gothic, and Broadway.
- 1919: Bauhaus, the very first graphic design school in the world, opens in Germany, followed by many others around the world.
- 1950s: The end of the Second World War fills the western world with a renewed vigour for consumerism, and the trend for branding through logos gains popularity. Many logos developed in that era are still in use today, the best known example probably being the IBM logo.
MOVING TO DIGITAL
- 1989: Tim Berners-Lee (CERN) proposes the creation of a global hypertext project. (Hypertext is text which contain links to other text or images, sound clips etc.)
- 1991 – 1993: The World Wide Web is born. The first browser is very simple and displays lines of text only.
- 1993: Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina create the Mosaic browser, which features an integrated approach to text, images and sounds.
- 1994: The W3C is created, to develop common protocols, ensure interoperability and discourage any one company from monopolizing a programming language. The W3C continues to set the standards of the World Wide Web today.
- 1996: WC3 introduces CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to support presentation and layout, and Flash is also developed.
- 2001 – Present: Incremental evolution and expansion, and endless bewildering design possibilities.