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Of all the primary components of the new digital media in the 1990s, graphic design became the core discipline. Why? Because it integrated  three of the other core disciplines: typography |(the design, selection and layout of letterforms and text), photography (the creation, selection and processing of photographic images), and illustration (the whole range of graphics from line illustrations through to technical, information graphics). Towards the end of the 1990s graphic design began to integrate animation, sound and the moving image |(through software like Flash, Adbobe After Effects and other post-production film-compositing and editing software. But where did ‘graphic design’ in its modern iteration, come from?

 

Graphic Design is a twentieth-century discipline arising from the 500 year old traditions of Printing and Publishing, and the innovations of  advertising design, and photography in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, graphic design is characterised by the work of several keynote designers, and notable among these are Peter Behrens, El Lissitzky, Alexander Rodchenko, Raoul Hausmann, Piet Zwart, Karel Tiege, Fortunado Despero, Lazlo Moholy Nagy, Jan Tschicholde, – and I will try to provide mini-monographs on all these key designers in further posts to mediartinnovation.

 

In this post I want to sketch something of the pivotol role of graphic design in the 1920s, as designers were grappling with the demands of mass publishing, advertising, propaganda, new art forms like Cubism, DADA, and constructivism, and the emerging sciences of information design, especially in the work of pioneers like Otto and Marie Neurath (Isotypes), Harry Beck (London Underground Map), and Paul Otlet (information science).

 

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