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Saturday 25 March 2017
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3 Major Moments in Graphic Design History

We understand graphic design, today, as a skill set typically associated with web design but it is actually further reaching than that.  In fact, the elements of graphic design we use most today have been around for centuries—maybe even millennia. Indeed, when human ancestors begin drawing pictures on rocks and cave walls, the first inklings of graphic design were also born; after all, graphic design is, essentially, using imagery to communicate an idea or theme.

But since that Dawn of graphic design, if we can call it that, we have taken several bold steps in evolving the ideas. Here are a few of the biggest moments in Montreal Graphic Design branding history.

  • POINTING FINGERS

The image of the “pointed finger”were commonly used on posters, bills, and other advertisements during the 19th century. It was an emphatic attempt to declare a word or sentence is the key to a phrase or to a sign.  It might point to a door, shopname, etc.

The image, though, gained more weight when, in 1914, British designer Alfred Leere created the now-famous recruitment poster featuring the then-Secretary of State for War—Lord Kitchener—pointing directly at the reader with the wards “wants you.”   Of course, in North America, you might recognize this bettery as the James Montgomery Flagg poster from 1917 (but it was copied by many countries).

Since this time, the pointing finger has remained an iconic, motivating image, both in popular culture and in graphic design.

  • DECORATIVE LOGOTYPES

In his 1993 book “Design, Form, and Chaos,” Paul Rand wrote, “If in the business of communications, image is king, the essence of this image, the logo, is the jewel in its crown.”  Of course, Rand also said that a logo “cannot survive unless it is designed with the utmost simplicity and restraint” (in his 1985, “A Designer’s Art”), but the logo has evolved, now, as a form of expression in itself.  With the speed of information process at an all time high—thanks to the internet—logos are now corporate identities, mission statements, and brand markers all rolled into one.

  • METAPHORIC LETTERING

Similar to the evolution of decorative logotypes, lettering has also changed.  It used to be that anything other than the classic typefaces was considered novelty or kitschy.  In the late 19th century novelty items, though, were the trend, and it seems, these days, that using those older, trendy, “novelty” items now pervade the kitschy essence and emit more of a nostalgic and evocative feel instead.




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