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History of Graphic Design

Graphic design is such an omnipresent component of today’s world to an extent that it is truly a struggle to visualise one without it. The origins of visual communication dates back to a time of primitive rock tools and scratches on caves. The course that graphic design has taken through mankind’s history is that of something to be inspired and influenced by. Graphic design formulated into its first variation close to what we identify it with today, only after the arrival of the printing press in 1440.

In the era of Cave Paintings, early man would create imagery depicting events such as hunting and rituals. According to our modern day research, one of the earliest known languages was an invention of the Sumerians. These prehistoric languages were built on a network of icons and signs and short sounds. This could be viewed as a display of the instinctive attribute of connecting visual elements with intricate thoughts. Iconography is an aspect of graphic design that is heavily relied on even to this day. Some of the first discoveries of print have been made in China with woodblock printing, paper manufacturing and dynamic type.

1040 was the year when Bi Sheng came up with his movable type machine made from Porcelain. The Middle Ages saw a sudden interest in bringing about a new level of intricacy when it came to designing books and allowed scholars to elevate their work using distinct aesthetics. Around the same time, typography was one of the few forms of artistic expression in places of Islamic dominance, as figurative art was seen as violation of what was regarded as sacred.

A major escalation in the progress of the course of graphic design was the introduction of Europe’s first printing press, which was an enabler of cheap recreation of art, design and text on a gigantic scale. This instilled an interest of the impact of visuals on business, profits, etc in the precursors of modern day companies and brought about the birth of modern design. Johannes Gutenberg was able to upturn the entirety of civilization when he introduced Europe to the world of moveable type. This resulted in literacy reaching the grasp of the masses at a reasonable price. Gutenberg cleared a route for the progression of commercial design. We can pinpoint ancestors of logos in the form of printers marks of the late 1400s as a method of exhibiting one’s printing abilities. A perfectly printed mark on a document was a sign of perfection in the printing of the entire document itself. The normalisation of the printing press led to the early forms of a newspaper (coranto) which house the first advertisements on print on a large scale. Chromolithography (the technology to print in colour) was yet another proof of the horsepower that developing technology provided to the journey of graphic design.

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