Different People Equal Different Opinions Cultural Studies Essay


Alexandra Balisova

Our first lesson was about introduction to visual design by examining different opinions and asking question what actually visual or graphic design is.

Different people equal different opinions sometimes completely opposite. Interesting, if we consider that graphic design nowadays is something really ubiquitous and we encounter it every single day of our lives, still the definition varies.

Of course there are sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica or books such as An Introduction to graphic design by William Drenttel & Jessica Helfand which provide generic answer which could satisfy but there are other opinions more lets say exciting that are arising questions conserning this area of interest. There are thousands and thousands of students graduating from design programs every year and I bet each of them would have something at least little bit different in their answer.

I like the idea of Stuart Bailey who says that Graphic design does not exist � it exists just when other subjects exist first. I quite agree with that. There are more disciplines like this. Fashion

styling wouldn�t exist if there were no clothes done before. Interior design or product design wouldn�t exist if there were no materials done before. Inspiration itself usually comes from something that was done before.So basically research done for graphic design project is probably inspired from what was done before.

Visual design is communication. It communicates ideas/messages from communicator to receiver (audience, target, public, users, consumers and so on) using different mediums and also with effect/impact on the audience. Message can be straightforward/ literal, which is denotation or connotation (which is associated with culture or country). As for this is always important in

communication to pay attention to sign and its signified (the concept it represents) and signifier (the form sign takes) as it can mean for different people something different. He has to think how to make it understandable.

Visual designer can be seen as the center point of 2 crossroads: one is the direction from client to audience and the other one from text to image.

Another question regarding graphic design is if its considered to be Art or not. Bruno Munari said that true designer doesn�t deal with style and he is basically dealing with different design problems without looking at it with artistic sense. I would say its not that straightforward.

There are different types of graphic designers. Some of them just respond to briefs of others but other ones working f.e in fashion or music are more artistic and also rely on their aesthetic and taste.

They rely more on intuition and what comes from inside like artists.

So the two main categories would be : one who are pragmatic and other ones artistic but they are unified by skills/craft they need to know.

�� Long ago, to be a graphic designer was to distinguish yourself by defining your territory as

fundamentally two-dimensional. Unlike artists, graphic designers had clients. Unlike architects, they delivered printed messages. Today, with the meteroric rise of desktop computing, social

networking and mobile technologies, graphic design is the ultimate DIY activity. Or is it? Albert

Einstein once said that the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. So don�t ask us to explain how kerning works: just trust us. ��


The Birt of Mass and Communication Design

Graphic design became as a craft with automated printing press and industrial revolution.

Growing number of people concentrated in cities contributed to mass production. There was

completely new audience and new scene for communication.

Posters and flyers filled the streets and walls, but we can see just use of words and letters, not pictures. Reason for this is that it was highly time consuming to print pictures but letters were easily available.

Later on, lithography � printing with stone (not carving, using just surface) � and

cromolithography were created. There was a big development in second half of the 18th c. especially in France. As I mentioned before, industrial revolution created new audience (new middle class). Lithographic poster was important visual element in Paris in Belle �poque (1880-1914)

By the end of the 19th century large colorful posters were familiar feature of the main streets and also general public recognized their artistic value.

The creation of lithographic technique revolutionized the art of posters. It allowed artists to print large solid areas and to use colour and they had freedom to draw their own lettering.

Jules Cheret developed a system of 3 or 4 color printing � black drawing with pale background, blue on the top and addition of red or yellow. He was ��father of modern poster and the father of modern lithography�. His posters usually included a young woman, not too much of text � this minimal idea and combination of text and image started to be use all over Europe and America and later was adopted by Pierre Bonnard and Tolouse-Lautrec.

Black drawing � ink outline � and also unconventional use of space came from inspiration from - Japanese woodblock prints.

Arts & Crafts movement was the reaction against industrialization and its poor aesthetic quality.

William Morris was the leader of this movement and his concern with craftsmanship and truth in materials. Established the ethics of modern design. Morris�s Kelmscott Press produced books of superb quality.

Art Nouveau was the descendant of Arts & Crafts movement and it was first true international style. It was reaction against Victorian taste Japanese illustrations and impressionist painters inspired artists. The main feature is simplification of image � outline filled with flat colors- and abstraction and stylization ( f.e In hair).

Art Nouveau was known in different countries under different names f.e. in Germany it was


Central figure in Art Nouveau is Alphonse Mucha. He has been my inspiration for a long time now because of his ability to mix drawing and design in a functional and aesthetic way. His works stand as art in themselves yet also function successfully in terms of design in marketing.

Alphonse Mucha

Museum in Prague

Secession & Wiener Werkstatte

Secession � in 1987 � Gustav Klimt created associations with other artist and they called themselves Vienna Secession.

The group didn�t declare manifesto and didn�t encourage any particular style. They were inspired by Arts & Crafts movement and saw themselves as modern and wanted to break from academic

tradition in Vienna. His style was highly decorative like Art Nouveau.

Koloman Moser is one of the foremost artist of Vienna Secession movement and co-founder of

Wiener Werkstatte.

Wiener Werkstatte was community of visual artists created by Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffman. It was a group of artists, designers and craftsman dedicated to combining artistry and function in the design and manufacture of everyday objects.

Ver Sacrum was the official magazine of Vienna Secession featuring drawings and designs in

Jugendstil style.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh & Glasgow school

At the peak of the Arts & Crafts Movement in Scotland or England, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was the founder of the �Glasgow School�, an outstanding architecture and decoration style, forerunner of Modern Movement in Scotland.

Alphonse Mucha is one of my most favorite artists ever.

I especially like his first foster comissioned by Sarah Bernhardt for play Gismonda (1897).

This poster basically made him famous


Alphonse Mucha was the author of the notes (money) and and stamp of the

1st Czechoslovak independent republic.

Early 20th century Avant-gardes

Avant-gardes made new way of looking at words and alphabet to make images and used space of page in completely new way.They broke the tradition of linear writing.The car, the plane,

the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of man over nature. It is important because it broke with the traditional, symmetric layout of page.


Filippo Marinetti who published the first and most famous futurist manifesto led the futurist

movement.He was glorifying modern world � speed,cars,aeroplanes etc. Marinetti realized that words and letters could be used as visual images on their own and their positioning on the page, chose of font itself can be different expressions. Zang Tumb Tumb � visual equivalents of sounds in the shapes and different sizes of words. Marinetti � Parole in Liberta � experimental poetry.

Ardengo Soffici - his book of poems - Bif� zf + 18 � book was quite revolutionary � he used

sudden changes in text style and size and also he created cover as sort of a collage what later on would Dadaist use. Futurist wanted to shock people and open their eyes.

Fortunato Depero expressed futuristic ideas through advertising. Depero Futurista � his book and one of the key works of futurist graphic design; it is a catalogue of advertising design.

He also designer covers for Vanity Fair and Campari advertising.

Bruno Munari �Il Poema del vestito di latte (Poem of the milk suit) .Munari presented completely new techniques in it � cut out photographs printed in black and coloured overprinting with Bodoni.


Starts in Switzerland/Zurich ( neutral state).Dada is just misleading word without real meaning/ it was based on randomness and without meaning. Dadaism was totally against conflict compare to Marinetti. Dadaism was reacting against war and together with Expressionism it was the most prominent artistic movement at the end of the war. Dadaist aim moved from self-promotion like in futurism towards publicizing design itself. It was anti-art as it was fighting against everything that art stood for � it ignored aesthetics/ interpretation of the work is upon the viewer (no exact meaning)

Merz � magazine done by Kurt Schwitters.He was one of the first modern typographers.

He did corporate identity for city of Hanover

Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman

Producing experimental work.

John Heartfield

Producing covers for AIZ Magazine and images against fascist regime

De Stijl

Hollands avant-garde movement in art and architecture. It was known by its rectangularity �

example is in Mondrian painting.

Theo van Doesburg

Covers of magazines � De Stijl, Mecano.

He produced graphic design and typography whose strictly geometric manner was the base for the work of Schwitters and Bauhaus

Characteristics : planes of primary colours, squared terminals on type, abstract forms.

Constructivism and Suprematism

Russian avant-garde artists of the early Soviet period had a profound impact on Western art and aesthetics. Constructivism rejected easel painting as an expression of bourgeois-dominated society. Its most famous representative, Vladimir Tatlin, announced the death of traditional art and constructed three-dimensional, machine-inspired, abstract sculptures and reliefs.

Other Constructivists designed utilitarian products (chairs, clothes, dishware) with a distinctly industrial veneer to help �urbanize the psychology of the masses� of civilization. Suprematism was born with Kazimir Malevich�s painting �Black Square� (1915) and other geometrical abstractions, which were supposed to point humanity away from capitalist exploitation and the horrors of the world war. Both Constructivists and Suprematists were radical utopians who yearned for the creation of a new society and the destruction of the old.

The two movements merged in the figures of El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko. Both of these artists made important contributions to the cultural life of the twentieth century--Rodchenko in the areas of furniture design and photography, Lissitzky in exhibition design and architecture. But their most far-reaching innovations were in the graphic arts: Soviet propaganda posters and advertising using geometrical shapes and bold, block lettering that combined the functionality of Constructivism with the visual elements of Suprematism. Constructivism rejected ��Art for arts sake��/ design can help political purposes. Characteristics: grid alignment, sans serif type, bars and rules, reverse type

El Lissitzky � he was major player in constructivism and his philosophy was: Design can be an agent of change. Rodchenko redefines the book form, making more dynamic. El Lissitzky was an unchallenged visionary and innovator of 20th Century graphic design, embodying ideals and not only functions. He was considered a �conduit� for the introduction of Suprematist and Constructivist ideals into Western Europe.

The term construction art was first coined by Kasmir Malevich in reference to the work of Aleksander Rodchenko. Graphic Design in the constructivism movement ranged from the production of product packaging to logos, posters, book covers and advertisements. Rodchenko�s graphic design works became an inspiration to many people in the western world including Jan Tschichold and the design motif of the constructivists is still borrowed, and stolen, from in much of graphic design today.

Stenberg Brothers

Work of these two brothers is my most favorite from 20th century avant-gardes.

Vladimir and Georgii Stenbergwere Russian/Swedish designers, known for creating avant garde/

constructivist theater and film posters in Moscow during the 1920�s and 30�s.

The Man with a Movie

Camera poster

This poster belongs to my all-time favorites.

I like the innovative aspects such as distortion of perspective, elements from Dada photomontage, an exaggerated scale, a sense of movement, and a dynamic use of color and typography. Eventually, they were imitated throughout Russia, creating a visual that typifies the standard of Russian graphics. Their designs are still relevant and somewhat �edgy� today, over eighty years since most were created.

Fortunato Depero for magazines Vanity Fair and Vogue

I was quite intrigued to see these covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair

Magazines. When we look at them these days we would

probably never believe that this could be the cover.

Aesthetics and


changed so much.



The Bauhaus was a school whose approach to design and the combination of fine art and arts and crafts proved to be a major influence on the development of graphic design as well as much of 20th century modern art. Founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany in 1919, the school moved to Dessau in 1924 and then was forced to close its doors, under pressure from the Nazi political party, in 1933. The school favored simplified forms, rationality, functionality and the idea that mass

production could live in harmony with the artistic spirit of individuality.

The art professors came from all over the world. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer had perhaps the greatest influence on modern design. The Bauhaus designers were the first to use sans-serif typography, and synthesized De Stijl and Constructivist ideas.

Along with Gropius, and many other artists and teachers, both Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer made significant contributions to the development of graphic design. Among its many contributions to the development of design, the Bauhaus taught typography as part of its curriculum and was instrumental in the development of sans-serif typography, which they favored for its simplified geometric forms and as an alternative to the heavily ornate German standard of blackletter


Along with its Russian counterpart Vkhutemas, it was the early model of the modern school art. It combined theoretical education and practical trainings in workshops. It was integrating the artists and the craftsmen while bridging the gap between art and industry. As we can see the clear influence comes from Arts and Crafts movement and ideas of William Morris influence Gropius while planning for the school. But just in the idea itself. It was different in its fundamental way � emphasis was on urban and technological, machine culture, mass production. Bauhaus simplified forms and removed visual distractions in order to make mass production easier.

The first modern art school, The Bauhaus dissolved the line between fine art and applied art.

Architects, sculptors, painters, carpenters, etc. all worked together. The school was looking forward, embracing modern art and the new urban culture of the 20th century.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy


His concept of typo-photo, by which he meant any synthesis between typography and photography, was the beginning of what has become the central medium of graphic design.

Photogram � a photographic image made without a camera when objects on coated paper are

exposed to light. He developed photomontages sometimes with drawn additions, which had enormous influence on 1960s graphics.

He participated actively in the school�s external image, designing the visual identity for the school�s publishing house in which he combined a circle, a square and a triangle, fundamental geometric shapes in Bauhaus design.

In collaboration with Walter Gropius, Moholy-Nagy developed and published the series of

14 �Bauhausb�cher� (Bauhaus Books) that acted as the manifest of the school.

Moholy-Nagy, along with Tschichold and Schwitters, attempted to articulate the �New Typography�. In 1923 he published an article in which he defended the notion that �typography is an instrument of communication and must be as clear and effective as possible.�

The ideas of New Typography included asymmetrical composition, sans serif type, preference of the lowercase, the use of photography, grids, geometrical forms and the absense of decoration.

These functional demands did not lead him to a dogmatic position. He used variable typefaces, in several weights, all possible colours and with no limits in the arrangements of lines.

Herbert Bayer

A simple approach to typography

He sought to create an internationally valid and legible style of lettering with his �universal type�. These typefaces were made of as few geometric forms as possible. There were no additional weights, just a very simple sans-serif face. Bayer believed that type must be an expression of our times, like cinema, architecture and machines. Bayer was the first to use boldface words and organization to show a hierarchy of information on a page, and created the first all-lowercase typography. His design theories are still taught in today�s design schools. In between his time at the Bauhaus and his career in America he spent time as the Art Director of Vogue magazine�s Berlin office. His contributions to the fields of graphic design, typography and advertising were many. One that should be noted was his design for a typeface that consisted of entirely lowercase letters. The German blackletter types were overly ornate for his taste and their use of capital letter for every proper noun was annoying. Logically, Bayer developed a sans-serif alphabet of lowercase letters titled �Universal�.

Jan Tschichold

He wrote Die Neue Typographie he set forth rules for standardization of practices relating to modern type usage. He condemned all typefaces except for sans-serif types, advocated standardized sizes of paper and set forth guidelines for establishing a typographic hierarchy when using type in design. While the text still has many relative uses today, Tschichold eventually returned to a classicist theory in which centered designs and roman typefaces were favored for blocks of copy.

He spent part of his career with Penguin Books and while he was there he developed a standardized practice for creating the covers for all of the books produced by Penguin. He personally oversaw the development of more than 500 books between the years 1947-49. Every period of his career has left a lasting impression on how designers think about and use typography, and it will continue to affect them into the future.

Piet Zwart

A pioneer of modern typography, designer Piet Zwart was influenced by Constructivism and De Stijl. His influence shows in his work and in this quote: ...to make beautiful creations for the sake of their aesthetic value will have no social significance tomorrow. Zwart worked as a designer, typographer, photographer and industrial designer in the Netherlands in the 1920s and 30s. Primarily working for the NKF Company, he created many works of graphic design before retiring from the company to spend the rest of his days as an interior and furniture designer.

The work that Zwart did for the NKF Company can be spotted by his use of primary colors, clean sans-serif typography and photo-montage. Formally trained as an architect Zwart referred to himself as a hybrid between a typographer and an architect.


The Bauhaus had a major impact on art and architecture trends in Western Europe, the United States and Israel (particularly in White City, Tel Aviv) in the decades following its demise, as many of the artists involved fled, or were exiled, by the Nazi r�gime. Tel Aviv, in fact, has been to named by the UN, to the list of world heritage sites, due to its abundance of Bauhaus architecture.

One of the main objectives of the Bauhaus was to unify art, craft, and technology. The machine was considered a positive element, and therefore industrial and product design were important components.

Information Design

Harry Beck

Harry Beck is best known for designing the map of London�s Underground system. He also designed posters for the underground. Beck�s revolutionary design, with certain modifications and additions, survives to the present day and is set to serve London Underground and its millions of customers for many years to come.

Otto Neurath pioneered the Viennese method/ Isotype.

Isotype (International System Typographic Pictorial Education) is convention of signs and their use.

Its initiator, Otto Neurath, described it as a �language-like technique� characterised by consistency in the use of graphic elements. The basic elements are pictograms - simplified pictures of people or things, designed to function as repeatable units.

Two rules of Isotype are : greater number should be represented in greater number of signs(not by a single large sign) and that presentation is free of perspective. Isotype is based on simple signs that are easily recognizable and understandable without words and use of maximum 7 colours (white, blue,

gree, yellow, red, brow, black). It works as universal language.

Teams ( working in Isotype studios) were responsible for collecting and organizing data, designing the symbols and choosing right size and so on.

Gerd Arntz

Working with Otto Neurath, Gerd Arntz designed pictograms to represent every aspect of life.

He was a German Modernist artist and activist inspired by social and political issues. His earlier works portrayed social inequities, exploitation and war in black & white woodcuts used on prints that was published in radical anarchist magazines in Germany and abroad. It was in these magazines that Otto Neurath, the spearhead of modern pictograms first discovered Arntz and recruited him to

Vienna�s Museum of Society and Economy to further develop ISOTYPE.

Arntz was using simplified forms but still with some connotations so it was easily recognizable.

Around Rembrandt

Around Rembrandt was the first Isotype exhibition about art. It was innovative in several ways: it did not include original artworks but instead examined the historical background and social context of Rembrandt�s work.

Susan Kare is an artist and graphic designer who created many of the interface elements for

the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. She is known as a master of creating icons. Her groundbreaking career began at Apple in 1983, where she used just a handful of pixels to design typefaces and icons that have become part of the visual language of computing.

Ladislav Sutnar, a Czech designer born in 1897, was a pioneer in the field of designing information graphics .He was a predecessor of info design utilized by today�s Internet. He was specializing in product info, industrial catalogues, telephone directory and so on.

I would say that key elements in his work were rationality and process of displaying huge amounts of information in clear and organized way for easy consumption. He achieved this by using limited range of colors and he put heavy emphasis on typography. While he often used punctuation symbols to help organize information one of his signature creations was the idea to place brackets around the area codes in telephone books.

For nearly 20 years he served as the art director for Sweet�s catalog services where he created

information graphics and catalog layouts for a wide range of manufactured items. Before working for Sweet�s he taught at the State School of Graphic Arts in Prague. He was heavily influenced by the ideas of Modernism and his work was so well structured that he had no problems communicating information clearly to an American audience, even though English was not his primary language.

In addition to various grid and tab systems, Sutnar made common punctuation, such as commas, colons and exclamation points, into linguistic traffic signs by enlarging and repeating them in a manner similar to that of 1920s Constructivist typography.

He was showing flow and dynamics in his work � he was one of the first designers to use double spreads rather than single pages.

Design and paper was a series of softcover booklets produced by New York paper wholesaler Marquardt and Co. between 1937 and 1952(?). Its production ran quarterly for 39 issues and was printed at a very high standard. The series showcased the finest papers for printers, art directors and others in the printing trade. After number 7, issues were primarily devoted to individual artists and designers. Ladislav Sutnar featured in numbers 13 and 19.

In issue 13, Sutnar gives a brief and illustrative lesson in information design techniques, namely visual flow. Sutnar�s style is evident in the bold use of colour, dynamic spreads and organizational signposts.

I like it because of Sutnar�s style - in the bold use of colour, dynamic spreads and organizational