The second lecture was about the “history” of graphic design. The topics that I was particularly interested in were the four points below:
1.Why do we study the history of graphic design?
This was how JP’s lecture started, and various opinions were heard. A student said he was inspired by past collage works when he researched for ideas when working on his own collage project last year. Another student mentioned that learning about how our predecessors overcome obstacles can give us strength. My answer was that it allows us to smoothly communicate with others in the same design industry. Think back to when you are given feedback about your work from our tutor. Our tutors refer to names of designers and past works when providing their feedback. If students don’t know about these people or works, then the otherwise useful advice will be meaningless. In addition, when you work with other people in the industry, then having a common image of a past masterpiece that we can gear towards will make the entire process smoother.
2.what is graphic design?
I answered commercial art. If commercial is too narrow a word, then I can call it an art for a particular purpose. This purpose can be to communicate information or to educate people about the gap between male and female, the gap of wealth, or about the environmental issues and the like. What I want to emphasize here is that design is different from pure art. The famous Italian graphic designer Bruno Funari wrote in his book Artista e designer (Artist and Designer) that ” an artist’s dream is to reach the museums. The designer’s dream is to reach a supermarket in the city.” I believe this short text summarizes the difference of the two.
3.When did graphic design start?
There were many opinions for this question as well. One student raised the paintings in Lascaux Cave as its start. Another student mentioned the Industrial revolution in the United Kingdom as its start. There was also one student it’s the invention of Printing by Gutenberg. Then, JP introduced opinions from two design historians that wrote famous books about the history of graphic design. Meggs says the hieroglyph is the start while Hollis mentions French posters made in 1893 as the start. I agree with Hollis’s opinion. This is because I believe the main purpose of graphic design is commercial. It is true that the Egyptian hieroglyph or the Lascaux paintings were important as the start of communicating through visual means, but this appears to be too distant from the purpose of graphic design today. Let me put this differently. If you were to see a real hieroglyph, then you must go to a museum. If I were to borrow Bruno Munari’s words, things in a museum are not the graphic design that we are covering. This is because graphic designs are something we find in supermarkets in the city.