History of Graphic Design

Graphic Design is defined, by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, as “the art or profession of using design elements (such as typography and images) to convey information or create an effect”. In other words, it is the craft of creating visual content to communicate messages.

Graphic logo design is an ancient craft, dating back to cave paintings. Graphic design, also known as visual arts, has been a part of our community for the longest time ever. It is present in the caves, stories and has been a part of our daily lives. It has spanned on the entire human existence, growing and changing with us over a period of time. Art has been the initial way to communicate with others for the longest time. It has broken all language and cultural barriers among individuals. It is the usage of images, colours, and typography to attract viewers.

Graphic design is one of the most powerful tools in the world, for shaping the world and how we live in it. It allows the viewer to interpret it accordingly and response it emotionally or physiologically. It is one of the most important part of our daily lives. We see it on billboards, emails, company logos, cereal box and nearly everything that visually represents an idea.

Some of the early example of graphic designs, include:

  1. Petroglyphs and Pictograms: Pictographs are paintings that were made by applying red ochre or, less commonly, black, white or yellow dye.  Petroglyphs are carvings that are incised, abraded or ground by means of stone tools upon cliff walls, boulders and flat bedrock surfaces.


  1. Proto-Writing: Proto-writing refers to the early writing systems that emerged in Eurasia in the early 3rd millennium BCE that were a development based on earlier traditions of symbol systems that cannot be classified as writing proper, but have many characteristics strikingly similar to writing. They used ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols to convey information yet were probably devoid of direct linguistic. These systems emerged in the early Neolithic period, as early as the 7th millennium BCE.



A brief timeline of the history of Graphic Design:

à Some of the significant style movements throughout history:

  1. Art Nouveau: Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long, sinuous, organic line and was employed most often in architectureinterior designjewelry and glass design, posters, and illustration.
    • It was an international design movement that emerged and touched all of the design arts – architecture, fashion, furniture, graphic, and product design – during the 1890s and the early 20th
    • it often utilized stylized abstract shapes, contoured lines, and flat space inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
    • upon the example of the Japanese, Art Nouveau designers made colour rather tonal modeling, the primary visual attribute of their graphics.
    • Some of the practitioners of Art Nouveau include: 
      • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec;
      • Alphonse Mucha;
      • Will Bradley;
      • and Henry van de Velde.
  1. Modernism: is characterised by deliberate decision to reject artist styles of the past, emphasizing experimentation with new materials and techniques instead.
  2. Art Deco: this art form is lavish and authentic, with plenty of geometric shapes, contrasting colours, and symmetrical patterns, the idea was to create a sleek sense of elegance that symbolised wealth and sophistication.
  3. Swiss Style: This style originated in the 1950s in Switzerland. It is commonly known as the “International Typographic Style”, it is one of the most influential designs. was guided by the ethos that design should be as invisible as possible. All traces of the designer’s subjectivity should be suppressed in order to let the “content” of a work shine through. It is similar to the axiom of architectural modernism that form should follow function.
  4. The Digital Era:  is an attempt to label the graphic style which emerged in the 1990s as a result of the revolutionary changes in computer technology. 

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