Meggs' History of Graphic Design
You can't master a field without knowing the history. Meggs' History of Graphic Design presents an all-inclusive, visually spectacular arrangement of graphic design knowledge for students and professionals. Learn the milestones, developments, and pioneers of the trade so that you can shape the future. The late Philip B. Meggs is an inductee into the Art Directors Hall of Fame and received its Educator's Award for lifetime achievement. A former contributing editor to Print magazine, he authored more than a dozen books and 150 articles and papers on design and typography. Alston W. Purvis is Professor of Visual Arts at the Boston University College of Fine Arts where he serves as Chair of the Department of Graphic Design. He is author and co-author of numerous books on graphic design history.
Meggs' History of Graphic Design
As early as 1922 the Massachusetts-based type designer, calligrapher, and book designer William Addison Dwiggins coined the term graphic design, but it was seldom used before 1945. Until that time graphic designers were mainly referred to as commercial artists. The profession grew extensively during the second half of the twentieth century and early twenty-first century. As we move deeper into the digital age it is undergoing more dramatic changes. It is only natural that the new generations of graphic designers have provocative ideas and question existing viewpoints and established notions of aesthetics. Each time we think we are at the forefront, we find that we are only at a new beginning with the future an open panorama.
Numerous methods are utilized to explore the evolution of graphic design history. These include investigating purely visual aspects, studying its economic associations, and considering the effects of new technology. Clearly, the visual aspects of graphic design are of foremost importance, but we must also reflect upon the designers' principles, the influence of their work on viewers, and the meaning of forms and their syntactic associations. Established methods of art history inquiry are often inadequate for approaching the relatively fresh and intricate history of graphic design. Focusing solely on specific designers and their major works or consigning them methodically to specific groups or movements does not fully serve our requirements. New industrial and technological developments such as the introduction of movable type, lithography, and the computer have played, and continue to play, a vital role. Also, creative interactions between designers have become important, especially today with global communications being almost unlimited.
Meggs' History of Graphic Design was never intended to be an all-encompassing historical graphic design encyclopedia, as this would require far more than a single volume. Still, we have attempted to provide a broad survey of notable stages and achievements in graphic design history. In determining what to include, a primary consideration was how particular cultures and individuals affected the contemporary state of the graphic design profession. Today, the graphic design field is much more extensive than in the past, encompassing areas such as motion graphics, design for the built environment, digital type design, design for portable devices, and interactive media. While personal predilections and those of Philip Meggs were significant factors in the selection of designers and images, it was our objective to make such decisions based on reasons that transcended our own aesthetic perceptions. Selections of designers and images were based as much as possible on how clearly they convey ideas, significant design concepts, or particular graphic forms. Obstacles in obtaining publication rights or adequate reproductions also influenced the selection. Thus, some important designers were regrettably excluded.
In graphic design history there have been times when collective visions emerged that cannot be ascribed to one designer. However, there have also been individual designers who clearly created new routes with innovative typographic and expressive forms and unique methods for communicating information. One objective of Meggs' History of Graphic Design has been to document graphic design modernization and those designers who have influenced its ongoing evolution. Attempting to single out particularly consequential designers, especially from the past three decades, has proved to be a challenging task. By "consequential" I am referring to those who not only produced significant work but also made lasting contributions to the development of the field. For me, the question of what distinguishes a master graphic designer from his or her talented colleagues is both exasperating and difficult. Su