We have discussed before the history of graphic art design but lets take a look at this from another angle.
It is difficult to envision life in the present era without graphic design because society permeates so many aspects of it. Though it has been a long trip from stone tools to digital tablets, visual communication is roughly as old as our opposable thumbs, so in some respects, we never have. In summary, the history of graphic design is a narrative that spans all of human history and has the capacity to both inform and inspire contemporary graphic artists.
One benefit of knowing where, why, and how this sector originated is that it aids designers in understanding their place in historical context. In more concrete words, aesthetic fads cycle, and researching the past can provide some fresh insights for the present. So join us as we explore the evolution of design from pre-industrial times to the modern industry. Hopefully you’ll be able to leave your own mark along the journey!
From prehistoric times through the Renaissance, there was no printing press.
While the history of visual communication dates all the way back to prehistoric times, graphic design as we know it today only really got started once the printing press was invented in 1440. In this section, we’ll go over the historical occurrences that gave rise to graphic design decades before the rest of the world was prepared for it.
Approximately 3,600 BCE, there were cave drawings.
The earliest cave paintings from prehistoric times seem to show that humans have always had a natural desire for art. They can be found all around the world and cover a variety of subjects, including animals, handprints, and activities like hunting (Australia, Spain, Indonesia, France, Argentina, just to name a few). While historians disagree on the specifics of who they were intended to communicate with (whether it was other humans or their gods), one thing is certain: from the very beginning, humanity showed a talent for visual communication.
It’s simple to overlook the fact that alphabets were created by humans when you read this text and translate all these small, abstract signs from the Latin alphabet into words and phrases. As far as we are aware, one of the first written languages was developed by the Sumerians, probably as a way to record trader inventories and prevent couriers from stealing goods while making deliveries.
The oldest languages were logographic, meaning that full words were represented by images rather than phonetic sounds. This shows that visual representation of complicated ideas is a natural human skill and a foundational element of contemporary graphic design. And not much has changed over the last several millennia: designers continue to use icons like hamburger menus or magnifying glasses to condense whole phrases and concepts into a little amount of space.
Chinese printing innovations between 200 CE and 1040 CE
The majority of printing-related discoveries may be attributed to China, including the development of non-papyrus paper, woodblock printing, and moveable type, all of which were made earlier than you might have imagined.
China began using wood reliefs to print and stamp designs on silk garments in the year 200 CE, and later on paper. More than 400 years before Gutenberg introduced a comparable technique to Europe, Bi Sheng created the first movable type printing press in the world in 1040 using porcelain.
Medieval Calligraphy from the 700s
Typography began to flourish in the Middle Ages as people began to extend their aesthetic interests to the letters and words themselves. Because writings were created and copied by hand at this time, a little creativity increased the value of the books and distinguished some experts from others. Typography was especially significant in Islamic societies since figurative art was regarded as sacrilegious, making typography one of the very few acceptable forms of aesthetic expression.
European heraldry: about 1100
The coat of arms, which is used as a symbol to designate family homes or territory, is technically the first logo in history. The technique is thought to have gained popularity during the Crusades, when soldiers from various nations and households were mixed together, which encouraged a way to identify everyone, notably on armor and battle flags.
A house’s coat of arms, like logos, attempted to symbolize the ideals, traits, and fashions of the people. Later, similar symbols were used for more useful things, such wax seals to indicate legitimacy.
Store signs – 1389
When most water supplies were polluted in the 14th century, beer and ale were acceptable, if not preferred, substitutes for drinking water. To make it easier for the public to discover ale pubs, King Richard II of England passed a legislation requiring them to post signs out front.
These were not only the first signs that truly identified businesses as opposed to homes, but they also served as the impetus for a lovely custom that continues to this day.
Well we don’t want you to fall asleep on us as we are giving the history of graphic arts another spin. We will be going over more amazing history in the world of graphic art design!