Graphic Design before Graphic Designers
Published today, David Jury's new book, Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700-1914, (Thames & Hudson, £36) looks to chart the evolution of 'print' into 'graphic design'...
"Johann Gutenberg invented movable type with one purpose: to print books," writes Jury in the book's introduction. "However, from the outset, printers were asked to put their presses to other uses," he continues.
"Such tasks, collectively called 'jobbing' work, increased in volume and commercial importance as industrial and business interests grew in variety and ambition, enabling many printers to specialise in this area. This book focuses on the printers who did this kind of work - effectually graphic design before graphic designers - their training and working environments, the products they designed, and the changing social and technological circumstances in which these were achieved."
The book's main focus is the developments of the 19th century which saw the printing process undergo a technological revolution and the printer become integral to the expansion of industry and trade. The book doesn't just focus on letterpress but also takes into account the importance of various crafts vital to the world of print and design such as engraving – which allowed for more flowing calligraphic styles of text and, of course, illustration – and sign-writing, the art of which influenced type design, in particular display type.
The 312 page, hardback book (with 3/4 length dust jacket) contains nearly 800 illustrations of engraved frontispieces and title pages, handbills, posters, catalogues, type specimens, pamphlets, advertisements and product labels, many of which were specially photographed from private collections, that served the demands of the emerging consumer classes of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.
Here are some spreads:
Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700-1914, by David Jury, is published today by Thames & Hudson (£36).
More info at thamesandhudson.com.
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This should be given to every student on his first day of college/university!
I agree with K-S-T. I would've loved to have gotten a book like this when I was in school.
What a wonderful book, a great reference for all Graphic Designers.
I think the point here is that there is in fact no such thing as graphic design; the printer as craftsperson, and the ideal of such a craftsperson forming the focus of a community, have been supplanted by graphic design as a commercial and corporate industry; the form becomes a gloss for a domain that then looks backward for visual inspiration without thinking about the what that very "looking back" means in terms of the economic and political destruction that the "designer" is now a leading cause of.
Where do you get the notion that a craftsperson formed the focus of the community Daniel? These people were artisans, graphic artists. Many spreading religious propaganda, others just basically 'decorating' communication. Graphic design on the other hand is a process to convey information. Whether political or how to open a box.
Lovely book, indeedy... when I look at these 3D like letters I imagine a western movie :) The times these designs were created was so different to ours and what we try to design today. Don't you all agree?
A great reference to designers and an inspiration. The designs shown tend to have a lot more text to back up the brand than modern graphics, could this be due to the lack of alternative methods for conveying information about the product. I guess that the design for an advert had to include all relevant information to capture a sales point but they also show how graphic design has evolved, no more so than in the last 10 years!
Definitely got inspirations from these books. Graphic designers should read books such as these.
There seems to be some confusion here between typography and graphic design.
Much like the common current confusion between graphic design and art direction.
Looks like a thoroughly absorbing read though!
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