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100 years of graphic design – how has it evolved?


June 13, 2023

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Graphic design never stops evolving – even as we talk about it right now.

Graphic Design is the apex factor for a successful brand and business awareness. The two, compounded words of ‘graphic design’ were first published in 1922, the name created from the skill to combine both images and text. The idea was to develop attractive advertisements and promotional material through two different media.

Although founded in 1922, the actual trade has been around for quite some while. This blog will be discussing how graphics has shaped and evolved over the past 100 years. Thanks to human and technological influences, it sure has dramatically changed since its first ever use.

1906 – Xerox®

To begin with, Xerox® existed to produce photographic paper, to provide to printing and graphics companies across New York. Although their growth wasn’t revolutionary, they did contribute to the evolution of graphic design in the fact they invented many technologies, which soon came to be of great importance.

Xerox brought ‘The Graphical User Interface’, the computer mouse and Ethernet into existence. The GUI was the introduction of visually interacting with a computer using features such as windows, icons and drop-down menus implemented with modern, operating systems.

1910 – Expressionism Graphics

Soon after the Arts & Crafts and Glasgow movement of visual design, Expressionism arrived and made way for distorted illustrations for advertisements with faces and landscapes being designed in an ‘odd way’, all in attempt to provoke emotion. After 2 years of developing upon this movement, Vorticism soon briefly made it into the trade of graphic design, this style greatly reflected the impressionistic concept.


1920 – Mass evolution

In the early 1920’s the idea of digital media was progressing rapidly and it came to people’s attention that it was forming from the 500-year old traditions of printing, commercial publishing, advertisement developments and photography – along with some idea implementation from influential designers.

Herbert Bayer founded the ‘printing and advertising’ workshop known as ‘Druck und Reklame’ around 1925, and from there, the Bauhaus design was an influence to his working style.


1925 – New Typography

Back in 1925, when everyone was introduced to the moment, it brought graphics and written information to the top, becoming recognised throughout Central Europe.

This method of design involved organising the advertisement as a blank page in which blocks of content and imagery were arranged in oddly, positioned compositions. Immediately publishers and printing agencies adapted on this style to make smaller media advertisements including business cards and brochures for magazines, opening the world to a whole new perspective of ‘graphic ‘design’.

1930’s – Art Deco

Art Deco was a colourful and playful style of graphic design back in 1930. Featuring abstract designs and print, this was an admirable era for the graphic industry.

1945 – Late Modernism

This style derived mostly from art made after World War II and within the 21st century. This phase was considered to be one of the ultimate methods of modern art yet; artists were predominant that work still had an element of cubism and expressionism in all graphics work, creating emotional designs and following an almost ‘futuristic’ approach towards illustrations and content.

1950 – Pop Art

The popular, vibrant style of pop art really did have heads turning back when this form of graphic design came into play. This form of illustration was designed to reflect the culture and traditional views towards what art should be, influencing a lot of self-innovation and expressive attitudes from designers. A lot of character and unique personas were developed within this period and graphics were brought to life for the first time.

1975 – Postmodern Graphic Design

Around this year many designers began implementing modernism into their designs, especially agencies that focused on architectural and product-based services. Around this stage, designers began to violate the rules of grid patterns and explored the use of historical and ornamental elements to create unique, design concepts.

1990 – The introduction of Photoshop 1.0

After Photoshop 1.0 came into existence, there was a change in graphical design forever. Imaginative and effective images with a polaroid aesthetic came into existence. The posters for Jurassic Park and Mastercard®’s logo were invented through the use of the Photoshop application. The new design software allowed users to implement effective colours into their designs.

Controlled chaos and new simplicity also began around this time, leading to developers beginning to modernise their designs Colours and morphology were used cleverly to portray certain ideas and produce charismatic graphic designs.

2000 – Modern Graphic Design

From the year 2000 and to present, graphics has introduced advanced and complex applications. It also introduced ideas for creating mesmerising and cleverly thought of designs to promote businesses and events. This design approach presently has introduced the concepts of modern-day PhotoShop. The style compounds separate images to create unique masterpieces unique to a set business.

Overall, graphic design has come a long way, and it’s been the help of independent entrepreneurs and excellent art styles that have helped shape the individualities produced by graphic designers. Although the name of this trade wasn’t invented until 1922, its progression has been around since BC times, and it continues to be adept furthermore every day.

Looking for printing work? Well, welcome to the modern and innovative approach. Speak with Geek today.

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