Module 1, Week 2

Week 2: Evolution of Design

Railway Revolution of late 19th Century As I was searching through archives of design through York, I realised that there was a significant change in the advertising styles around 1850’s onwards. This was the time the Railway Revolution was at it’s peak and of course, this big change meant great things for the small, market town of York. The new train line from London to York resulted in a demand for sharp and clear advertising for the small businesses. Probably not a typical evolutionary design step to choose but I feel for York, this was a big change. Suddenly the typography represented a more modern town, they pushed advertising for the Industrial Exhibitions at the still-existing York Art Gallery. The increased traffic meant more visitors which resulted in more money being pushed into clear advertising. I find the shift in typography fascinating – from hand drawn or painted posters to wood and metal engraving prints and onto lithography. All of a sudden, typefaces became an important factor in advertising. This is clear with the below examples.

WWII Propaganda Again, potentially not a groundbreaking change in design for the UK but I feel the shift from using design and print to advertise or promote a product to suddenly using particular typefaces, colours and phrases to persuade a person to think or vote differently is incredible. For me, it really highlights power of typography. Interestingly, propaganda posters existed in the UK as well as Germany but the difference between the two shows the contrasts between their fights and causes. I find the German typeface really interesting – commonly known as the Fraktur type, it is the most recognisable font for Nazi Germany, used on the front cover of Mein Kampf. More often now, it is only seen in reconstruction of Nazi posters and Germany was keen to modernise the type. For me, this shift of use for typography had a resounding effect over the world and it really highlights to me how one typeface can become instantly recognisable.

1960’s the founding of Pop Art Having seen some of Andy Warhol’s work in person I had to acknowledge this immense shift in visual arts. Not necessarily a “graphic designer” but one of the most experimental visual communicators. The comparison between his earlier whimsical work to his most well known prints shows just how adaptable he was and how he used experimental techniques early on in his career. His art work and designs are still used to this day, and this huge shift in use of colour and experimental art has changed the way we look at design all over the world. The 1960’s also gave life to Lichtenstein’s work – his comic book style was very new to the art world. A very controversial designer/artist, I believe he and Warhol changed the way designers portray a meaning or a message; to know how colour and ‘pop art’ channels a certain feeling can be used to a designer’s advantage! The resulting effects of the pop art movement are still being felt today and I believe it reflects perfectly in a quote from Paula Scher:

“If you’re not in a state of play, you can’t make anything”

Present Digital Day I feel we can look at past artwork or designers as much as we like, but without acknowledging our current digital technologies available, how can we move forwards? The present state of our digital world is constantly evolving and moving forwards – faster than ever before. Where now we stand in a world that can give you Augmented reality on your mobile phone, which can give you the answer to any question in a matter of seconds, which can connect you to people living on the other side of the world. I acknowledge that to be great designers you must understand and appreciate the past, but I am strong believer in really acknowledging how immensely fortunate we are to be designing in this current world! To be able to use new software that ever-updating and improving and getting faster. I do believe designers who studied before the 1990’s struggle to acknowledge that digital art or design is true design – the fact it’s not pen or paint to paper or letterpressing or wood block printing means, to them, that it’s not technically art. I feel Maziar put it perfeclty when he acknowledged that the lines are not blurring between designer and producer – where once a Graphic Designer did just the designs and passed the work on to a different team to be produced, now the designer is responsible for all elements of the final product. In my opinion, this makes for a more rounded designer, who is able to take control of the whole process. I have asked the group on the ideas wall if this means, as suggested by Maziar, that we now have a higher level of craftsmanship…?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s