The history of optical illusions in graphic design

A new book pays homage to the practitioners, both old and new, that helped to develop this fascinating field of design

Independent publisher Counter-Print has released Optic, a new book on the history of optical illusions in graphic design and how this craft has developed over the years.

The inception of Op Art came in the 1960s, but the book shows that the groundwork was laid far earlier, as seen in the work of 19th century Neo-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat and painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp.

The book then opens out into various sections, offering readers a comprehensive breakdown of the differing types of optical illusions and the many methods used to create them. Chapters such as Periodic Structures, Interrupted Systems, Impossible Objects, and Illusory Contours reveal the intricacy and genius of such techniques.

Readers are also given access to an array of notable contemporary figures within the scene, including Abby Haddican, Daughter, Design By Toko, and Classmate, each of whom share their viewpoints on optical illusions, and reveal the ways in which they incorporate such tricks into their own work.

They also reflect on the past, revisiting the Op Art movement and discussing its impact on the world of optical illusions, as well as their own respective practices. Through these interviews, readers can gain a better understanding of exactly why and how optical illusions continue to captivate both designers and consumers.

Thoroughly researched and accompanied by thought-provoking case studies and engaging imagery, Optic pays tribute to a craft that requires no small amount of skill and patience to master.

“As graphic design continues to evolve, the use of optical effects remains a timeless and captivating aspect of the field,” says Counter-Print.

Optic is published by Counter-Print;