History of American Graphic Design

By Marryellen Mcfadden

1915

American Alfred Stieglitz founded 291 Gallery in New York and published the journal 291 as well as his Camera Work, a journal that lasted much longer.

Cover design for the No. 1, 1915 issue was by Marius de Zayas

Cover design for the No. 1, 1915 issue was by Marius de Zayas

Source: flickr


1932

Advertising Arts magazine cover 1932

Advertising Arts magazine cover 1932

Photography was making new inroads in graphic design, or advertising art as it was called at that time, especially after WWI and the development of photogravure printing and other new printing production methods. And bleed trim became a new design element.

Source: flickr

Cover art work by Bobri 1932 for the American magazine Advertising Art

Cover art work by Bobri 1932 for the American magazine Advertising Art

Before WWII, advertising in America followed the line of the copywriter rather than the designer, (written copy, not creative graphic design,) but the desperation of the Great Depression called for drastic changes in advertising thinking.

When Advertising Arts started out in 1930, its mission was to promote marketing in all forms. Graphic design (or advertising art as it was called), packaging, industrial products, the design of anything modern was covered. But emphasis was placed on the selling message through modern design. It had to successfully promote sales.

Source: flickr


1933

Cover art work by Warren Chappel 1933, for the American magazine Advertising Art

Cover art work by Warren Chappel 1933, for the American magazine Advertising Art

Source: flickr


1934

Cover art work by John Atherton 1934, for the American magazine Advertising Art

Cover art work by John Atherton 1934, for the American magazine Advertising Art

Surrealism really started to be an influence on graphic design just about this time.

Source: flickr


1938

Lester Beall designed this cover for Photo Engraving 1938

Lester Beall designed this cover for Photo Engraving 1938

It was surreal, had nudity, and was like no graphic design that American commercial artists had ever seen before.

Source: flickr


1939

Paul Rand magazine cover design for Direction 1939

Paul Rand magazine cover design for Direction 1939

15 cents a copy, a Great Depression price.

Source: flickr


1943

A Paul Rand designed Direction magazine cover 1943

A Paul Rand designed Direction magazine cover 1943

Source: flickr


1945

Bradbury Thompson’s 1945 design for the Westvaco corporation

Bradbury Thompson’s 1945 design for the Westvaco corporation

Bradbury Thompson’s 1945 design for the Westvaco corporation back when the profession of designing was called advertising art. The term graphic design was just starting to be used largely due to people in the adversiting design field (and their clients) who took a sophisticated new approach with their work. Bradbury Thompson designed 59 issues of this publication between 1939 and 1962.

Your work is only as good as your client will allow. Pray for sophisticated clients that pay
you on time!

Source: flickr

1946

"Thoughts on Design” in 1946

“Thoughts on Design” in 1946

Paul Rand was another of those American designers that set new standards in the field of American graphic design. He published his book “Thoughts on Design” in 1946, and yes, I remember reading every word of it carefully.

Source: flickr

A post-WWII design by Paul Rand, pioneer American designer

A post-WWII design by Paul Rand, pioneer American designer

Source: flickr


1948

A Lester Beall cover design for the 1948 issue of Scope

A Lester Beall cover design for the 1948 issue of Scope

Source: flickr


1951

A Paul Rand cover for the International Advertising Art Idea magazine, 1951

A Paul Rand cover for the International Advertising Art Idea magazine, 1951

A Paul Rand cover for the International Advertising Art Idea magazine, 1951. He used humor as a basic part of his design in many instances, not the cartoon type of humor, but a humor that runs through visuals since the beginning of the visual arts. (Note the title, back in those days the business of graphic design was called advertising art.)

Source: flickr


1956

A Paul Rand book cover design 1956

A Paul Rand book cover design 1956

Source: flickr


19..

A Paul Rand book cover design

A Paul Rand book cover design

Source: flickr


1958

International paper trademark by Lester Beall 1958

International paper trademark by Lester Beall 1958

International paper trademark by Lester Beall 1958 and just as functional and elegant today as then.

Source: flickr

Paul Rand’s work designing corporate reports for IBM

Paul Rand’s work designing corporate reports for IBM

Paul Rand’s work designing corporate reports for IBM set whole new standards for American corporate graphics. This report designed in 1958.

Source: flickr


1960

CA first CA Annual cover back. Designed by Robert Runyan and Jim Fitzerald 1960.

CA first CA Annual cover back. Designed by Robert Runyan and Jim Fitzerald 1960.

CA first CA Annual cover back when it was still the Journal of Commercal Art. Designed by Robert Runyan and Jim Fitzerald 1960.

Source: flickr


1962

Envelope for a printing company, Portland, Oregon US, designer Irwin McFadden 1962.

Envelope for a printing company, Portland, Oregon US, designer Irwin McFadden 1962.

Envelope for a printing company, Portland, Oregon US, designer Irwin McFadden 1962. Helvetica had just hit the American market but in hot-type only. This printing company purchased it in 6, 8,10 and 12 point but nothing larger, at least at that time. My husband drew up a full-sized copy of Helvetica and my job was to paste it up, letter by letter for headings that were then made into stats to be a final part of the mechanical.

Source: flickr


1965

Milton Glaser cover design for Art in America magazine 1965

Milton Glaser cover design for Art in America magazine 1965

Source: flickr


1968

Paul Rand’s 1968 war and peace poster

Paul Rand’s 1968 war and peace poster

Paul Rand’s 1968 war and peace poster. Is there anyone out there that remembers the war in Vietnam? Probably only the Vietnamese and American GIs who were drafted and sent there.

Source: flickr


<1970

Series of book covers or jackets by Milton Glaser designed before 1970

Series of book covers or jackets by Milton Glaser designed before 1970

I think that this was a series of book covers or jackets by Milton Glaser designed before 1970.

Source: flickr

A book cover design by Milton Glaser before 1970

A book cover design by Milton Glaser before 1970

Source: flickr

Milton Glaser poster designed before 1970

Milton Glaser poster designed before 1970

There was a lot of design activity other than the Swiss direction in post-war US and pictorial modernism developed into a new direction. This is a Milton Glaser poster designed before 1970.

Source: flickr


1970

University of Iowa brochure, designer Irwin McFadden 1970

University of Iowa brochure, designer Irwin McFadden 1970

Source: flickr


19..

is a magnificent example of new graphic design principles

is a magnificent example of new graphic design principles

The US government adopted the international style for the majority of its publications, especially in the National Park Service publications. Years ago I received a US government employment announcement stating that any applicant for a US government graphic design position must have a thorough knowledge of new graphic design principles.

This has a topographical illustration that wraps around the booklet front, spine and back. Illustrations of this nature were not usually used but this booklet, in layout, photography and typography, is a magnificent example of new graphic design principles.

Source: flickr


<1972

This prospectus cover, designed by Peter Megert of Ohio State University before 1972

This prospectus cover, designed by Peter Megert of Ohio State University before 1972

This prospectus cover, designed by Peter Megert of Ohio State University before 1972, runs cold chills up my spine every time I look at it, a very effective graphic use of letterform.

I developed a work-study program (called cooperative education) with the nuclear plant WPPSS on the Hanford reservation in eastern Washington state and I saw things, and my students were involved in things that were almost beyond my comprehension.

After WPPSS collapsed, my program was transferred to Westinghouse. When Westinghouse lost the contract, Boeing took over and my program went with it. Just before I retired I was there on site in the design and photography office when the photographers came in after verifying leaks in the huge nuclear waste holding tanks. The whole operation was closed down after that. Don’t plan on going up there to see for yourself. A S.W.A.T. team will meet you before you get to the site.

Source: flickr


1973

Milton Glaser cover design for Art in America magazine 1965

Milton Glaser cover design for Art in America magazine 1965

Milton Glaser’s work always seemed heavy to me. This symmetrical design does not say jazz to me.

Source: flickr


<1976

Walter Landor, Assoc., US for Alitalia Airline, before 1976

Walter Landor, Assoc., US for Alitalia Airline, before 1976

Source: flickr


19..

Poster design for the Art Directors Club of Houston by Mark Greer

Poster design for the Art Directors Club of Houston by Mark Greer

Source: flickr

Poster design by Ivan Chermayeff, a master graphic designer

Poster design by Ivan Chermayeff, a master graphic designer

Source: flickr

A design for AIGA or American Institute for Graphic Arts

A design for AIGA or American Institute for Graphic Arts

A design for AIGA or American Institute for Graphic Arts. This organization is the oldest and leading group about design in the US. Their website can be a little overwhelming for beginning or novice designers but it has a wealth of information concerning American graphic design.

Graphic design, the most ubiquitous of all arts.

Source: flickr


1981

Poster designed by John Casado for the Oakland Ballet 1981

Poster designed by John Casado for the Oakland Ballet 1981

Simplicity, pure and simple.

Source: flickr


1982

Woody Pirtle design 1982

Woody Pirtle design 1982

Source: flickr

Paul Rand design for a prospectus, Yale University School of Art 1982

Paul Rand design for a prospectus, Yale University School of Art 1982

When my husband was the designer for the University of Iowa publications, he designed a logo for the university that used all lowercase. He received a very firm letter from a rural Iowa English high school teacher, informing him that it was difficult enough to teach students proper form without the university itself breaking the rules. He agreed with her and redesigned the university logo with a capital i.

Simplicity, the hardest route of all to follow.

A two-color run design, the red and green screened together for the darker green. As I remember, I used this as an example of designing with just two colors. It’s so important for students to see and understand the use of color and the printing press (and the economics of it all).

Source: flickr


1984

A Paul Rand cover design for the Design Quarterly 1984

A Paul Rand cover design for the Design Quarterly 1984

Source: flickr


1987

April Greiman Inc. design for the Modern Poster exhibition, Museum of Modern Art 1987

April Greiman Inc. design for the Modern Poster exhibition, Museum of Modern Art 1987

Source: flickr

Advertisement for Di-Zin opening exhibition designed by April Greiman Inc. 1987.

Advertisement for Di-Zin opening exhibition designed by April Greiman Inc. 1987.

Source: flickr

Poster design by Craig Frazier 1987

Poster design by Craig Frazier 1987


Another example of pure and simple.

Source: flickr


1989

Mike Griffin designer for the Type Director’s Club, New York 1989 or before

Mike Griffin designer for the Type Director’s Club, New York 1989 or before

Source: flickr

Paul Rand did an enormous amount of innovative, award winning work throughout his lifetime.

Paul Rand did an enormous amount of innovative, award winning work throughout his lifetime.


Designed 1989.

Source: flickr


1991

Poster for Emigre Music designed by Emigre Graphics 1991

Poster for Emigre Music designed by Emigre Graphics 1991

Source: flickr


1995

Book cover design by Kin Yuen, Anders Wenngren illustration, for Black Book Marketing Group 1995

Book cover design by Kin Yuen, Anders Wenngren illustration, for Black Book Marketing Group 1995

Source: flickr

One of the most popular annual reports ever

One of the most popular annual reports ever

One of the most popular annual reports ever. (They’re crying all the way to the bank as the saying goes). Designed by Michel Van-Minh Le 1995.

Source: flickr

designed by Paula Scher

designed by Paula Scher


Part of the Bring In ‘Da Noise Bring In ‘Da Funk series designed by Paula Scher (and Lisa Mazur?), photographer Richard Avedon for Pentagram Design for The Public Theatre 1995 or earlier.

Source: flickr


1995/6

Book cover series designed by John Gall for Grove/Atlantic Inc. 1995/96.-1

Book cover series designed by John Gall for Grove/Atlantic Inc. 1995/96.-1

Source: flickr

Book cover series designed by John Gall for Grove/Atlantic Inc. 1995/96.-2

Book cover series designed by John Gall for Grove/Atlantic Inc. 1995/96.-2

Source: flickr

One of the most popular annual reports ever

One of the most popular annual reports ever

Source: flickr

Book cover series designed by John Gall for Grove/Atlantic Inc. 1995/96

Book cover series designed by John Gall for Grove/Atlantic Inc. 1995/96

Source: flickr


<1996

The Public Theater poster designed by Paula Scher before 1996

The Public Theater poster designed by Paula Scher before 1996

Source: flickr


1996

Book design by Kin Yuen with Anders Wenngren illustrations for Black Book Marketing Group 1996

Book design by Kin Yuen with Anders Wenngren illustrations for Black Book Marketing Group 1996

Source: flickr

Seattle poster design by Robynne Raye

Seattle poster design by Robynne Raye


Seattle poster design by Robynne Raye, Modern Dog design, for the Greenwood Arts Council 1996.

Source: flickr

Annual report cover for Rational Software Corporation designed by Sharrie Brooks

Annual report cover for Rational Software Corporation designed by Sharrie Brooks


Annual report cover for Rational Software Corporation designed by Sharrie Brooks, Cahan & Associates design firm 1996.

Source: flickr

Poster designed by Craig Bailey

Poster designed by Craig Bailey


Poster designed by Craig Bailey, Moria Design, for the International Museum of Photography 1996.

The background dot patterned face is a Benday print of Frida Kahlo from the Museum of Photography. Not too many of us left around that worked with “Bendays”.

Source: flickr

Poster designed by Paula Scher, Pentagram Design (I think) for The Public Theatre 1996

Poster designed by Paula Scher, Pentagram Design (I think) for The Public Theatre 1996

Source: flickr

Poster designed by Kevin Krueger, Herman Miller Inc. design 1996

Poster designed by Kevin Krueger, Herman Miller Inc. design 1996

Source: flickr


19..

An example brochure in the Veterans Administration style manual

An example brochure in the Veterans Administration style manual

Source: flickr


Note: Komentar dari kolektor (Marryellen, pengajar desain grafis) – yang terkadang tercantum pada deskripsi masing-masing karya – sengaja tidak dihapus, karena bisa merupakan informasi yang berguna untuk melakukan penelitian yang lebih mendalam.

About Marryellen:

I started out taking Saturday art classes when I was a child at the local Portland Oregon museum school of fine art. When I was in high school I majored in art and took weekly life drawing classes at the same art school when I was not working for the Red Cross during those hectic war years. I then went on scholarship for four years of more fine arts training at the same school. I also studied “advertising art” from a local advertising artist who introduced his students to such names as Paul Rand and Bradbury Thompson. I studied calligraphy for many years with Lloyd Reynolds, nationally known calligraphy teacher. And just plain earning a living at the drawing board. I also met with a group of young start-up graphic designers one night a week after work, to study the latest issue of Neue Grafik and create design projects that we then would critique. And finally, I married a graphic designer/type designer.

There was no such name as graphic design for a major in schools outside of New York. Classes that were taught were called Advertising Art and were usually disdained by all fine arts faculty and administration (until they needed a classy design for an upcoming show of their work). What was taught in the various colleges by mediocre faculty was a far cry from the professional world of graphic design.

I am trying to remember the books that really influenced me. Jan Tschichold”s “Asymmetric Typography” and his “Treasury of Alphabets and Lettering” anything written by Bauhaus faculty (except Itten, whose ideas were silly nonsense) “Documents in the Visual Arts Volume 1: Piet Zwart” and anything by and about any of the DeStijl, Constructivist, DaDa and Suprematism movement participants. Malevich, Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky and Theo van Doesburg in particular. “Neue Grafik” was the turning point to the future, that future suddenly being called graphic design or information design, but no longer advertising art.

I would say that ALL graphic designers should read “A Designer’s Art” by Paul Rand, Yale University Press ISB 0-300-0348-0 as well as his “Thoughts On Design”. Any of the 18 issues of the original Neue Grafik or New Graphic Design publication out of Switzerland from 1958 to 1965 and edited by Richard Lohse, J. Müller-Brockman, Hans Neuburg and Carlo Vivarelli. ANYTHING that was written about design by those four editors and other Swiss graphic designers should be studied.

Another very influential book was “The Trajan Inscription in Rome” by Catich. We poured over those plates and I made every student that I ever had study, study study and work from copies of them. Catish’s calligraphy was stiff and stilted but did he ever open doors with his scholarly research and photographs of the classic lapidary Roman letterform. Another was “Printing Types Their History Forms & Use” by Updike. I’ll probably remember more books around 2:00 am. I gave many of my art books to the Greys Harbor Community College library so I can’t remember just what the names of all of them were.

Important design books of the last 10 years? I couldn’t answer that but I do know that most of them have their 15 minutes of fame and then pass off into oblivion. And that includes periodicals as well. It all seems a rehash of the past or a back-lash against the past. And I mean of the 1960’s era when all of the really exciting things were happening. Graphic design is like sports. There are a few that make it to the point of being famous but there is never any mention of those who don’t go on. Since part of my job as graphic design faculty was developing job sites, I made my students take a realistic view of just what was out there in terms of earning a living at being a graphic designer. It’s a hard nosed competitive business.

Graphic design is problem solving and the problems are always in a state of change. And the same can be said about the methods for solving those problems but a graphic designer still must have a basic knowledge of graphic design history and the processes for producing finished work to truly be a professional graphic designer. Do you know by sight the differences between Helvetica and Univers? (And know the history of the two typefaces?) Because you may lose your job if you don’t when an art director tells you to use Univers and you use Helvetica. I have seen it happen. There is more to graphic design than knowing Quark or InDesign.

PS I was also an avid art gallery prowler. I can still hear my young daughters whining “Do we have to go to another art gallery, we want to go to the Japanese tea garden, drink tea, and then go to Alcatraz. Mom, you’re not listening to us MOM!”

Clackamas, an acrylic painting by ellen mcfadden

Clackamas, an acrylic painting by ellen mcfadden

.

To be continued.

Quoted

Designers need to think about others for the sake of improving the human existence. What we have received is a gracious blessing. Without it, we are nothing. Which is why we need to give it back.

Yongky Safanayong