Graphic Design: an Ancient Artform Transformed
Though the term “graphic design” has only been used for under a century, visual communication transcends history, from the creation of cave paintings, family crests, and war propaganda to the development of packaging, advertisements, logos, and UX design. It is an integral part of how we communicate.
From Visual Communication to Graphic Design
People have always been communicating messages and thought through the use of artful techniques — the earliest ones beginning with cave paintings. The images of animals and use of handprints on ancient cave walls have been preserved for centuries. From telling stories to illustrating a cultural history, it is clear that people inherently want to communicate creatively and visually.
Fast forward several hundred years, and the development of the alphabet and various letterforms gave artists an additional tools to explore, resulting in calligraphy and typography. The introduction of the printing press in the fifteenth century allowed people and cultures the ability to share information, stories, and events. Perhaps, it is because images have a longevity that words do not have. Mass communication was born. The role of the graphic designer gained importance.
The Beginning of the Term — “Graphic Design”
Over time, so many designers struggled to pinpoint their exact role when telling others what they did. The term “graphic design” hadn’t yet surfaced. For hundreds of years, individuals used paint, ink, type and mixed materials to create political posters, social pamphlets and advertisements. Then finally in 1922, book designer William Addison Dwiggins, dictated the term “graphic design” to describe his job of managing and controlling the visuals that go into books.
Since then — and especially with the development of the computer over the past twenty years — graphic designers have proliferated worldwide. They have become very influential in determining how ideas are communicated in the 21st century.
The Future of Graphic Design
The increase in media platforms has given designers additional role to play and ways upon which they can use design to communicate. The first design agency was created in 1903, bringing together visual artists, designers, and those in innovative fields to create new and modern pieces for fashion, ceramics, graphics, and furniture. Since then, many designers have transitioned over from print to digital, and with the integration of ‘smart’ products and AI, there will be new platforms for designers to explore.
Now in the 21st century, with the rise of previously unheard of technology capabilities, the work of the graphic designer is more crucial than ever. They visually communicate complicated and innovative products and services to the masses. This presents both opportunities and challenges that graphic designers embrace. A “picture” truly is worth 1,000 words, whether it is a cave painting in Lascaux, France, or a new app from Silicon Valley.