John Lennon imagined a world without many things, but not a world without graphic designers. He had bigger fish to fry, but the truth is that it’s not that hard because the idea of a graphic designer is essentially a 20th Century development. Before that, design was part and parcel of the printing process – it was not even itemised on a printer’s bill. A magnificent new book by David Jury aims to bridge the gap between histories of printing which tend to overlook the so-called jobbing elements of the trade, and the histories of graphic design which tend to begin around the turn of the last century.
Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers is a beautiful look at the unsung heroes of the trade and the handbills, adverts and packaging they produced. It celebrates many sadly anonymous designers as well as those like Bodoni, William Morris and Oscar Harpel who pioneered graphic design before it was really called that.
It certainly supports the quotation from Dr Jonathan Miller that ends the book’s introductory essay: “It is in the negligible that the considerable is found.”
Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers, published by Thames and Hudson is available now.
- Punk, printing, photography and type - February's Nicer Tuesdays tickets are now on sale!
- Gender politics, feminism and Kanye West – the world according to Vanessa Beecroft
- First Dates for those who create: London agency Form on their working relationship
- Air-brushed psychedelia and neon lights abound in Robert Beatty’s new work
- Jack Davison shoots parrots with PTSD for The New York Times Magazine
- Graphic design work to challenge and empower the reader
- Racy photography from the new issue of Odiseo
- How to beat creative block: one designer offers his invaluable advice
- Bureau Mirko Borsche works with Nike Basketball on a new graphic language
- Meditation and creativity: should we believe the hype?
- VSCO develops new typeface and a symbol-based language as part of its rebrand
- More salaciously surreal illustrations from French duo Mrzyk & Moriceau