How the graphic design evolved during the last 50 years

If the cave drawings by Neandertals are to be thought of as the first graphic design objects then you can speak of a few millennia of the visual messages history. But only the last two centuries can be confidently thought about as the ones that have the art and the graphic design as two different crafts. At the same time, the new trends in the graphic design appear as often as the haute couture tendencies. During the last 50 years, the graphic design has grown into a separate branch with its own narrow specializations. The technologies evolved, the new views appeared and which is more important the desktop publishing appeared - one can’t imagine the graphic design without it anymore.

Printing technologies: almost no limits

Preparing another layout for printing the graphic designer checks how the artwork corresponds with the printing equipment possibilities. Is there one single color in the bar-code? Isn’t the type size too small for the white letters on the red background? The printing machine isn’t almighty, and there are still certain restrictions. But the accuracy of the modern equipment is remarkable. The photography quality of the prints and the juicy colors are a common thing now.

Typography: letters with character

Never before a designer had so many font families to choose from. The font that you download from the website and the font that has to be transported physically are two totally different things. Attractive works with deep meaning are sometimes totally fine with using just the typography itself.

typography letters with character
Simplification: there is nothing to remove from a good design

If making the works prettier was a thing for the designers in the first half of the XX century, the following design evolution took the path of the simplification. And though minimalistic art has appeared in the 20s, the true minimalism came into the everyday design only in the middle of the last century. There is a common belief that a good design is not when there is nothing to add but when there is nothing to remove. The last popular trend in this direction is the flat design - a limited color palette, no gradients, simple outlines. And often even a composition of matching typefaces is enough.

Targeting: designing for a proper audience

Sometimes one look onto the product packaging or the movie poster is enough to define the audience they are targeting. Bright colors and the pop-art style are good for youth attraction, new style serif fonts are great for sophisticated fashion lovers, brown paper is suitable for environmentalists. These years have made the design much more targeted.

WOW-effect: impress or die

We are in the middle of the graphics information flood. Advertising boards, stores signages, posters - we even learn to develop a “banner blindness”. To make someone who looks but doesn’t see notice you, you must be able to impress with what you have to offer. And if the wow-effect had been a sort of a whim, it has become a necessity nowadays. Your design has to be more impressive (that’s right, the word “impressive” gets comparison degrees here) than your competitors’ work.

wow-effect impress or die
DTP: desktop publishing systems

A little more than 30 years ago a revolution happened in the graphic design. The Page Maker appeared - the first desktop publishing system, the ancestor of the modern InDesign, Scribus, and iStudio. Since then the designers can devote more time and attention to the conceptual part of the projects instead of plugging away at the technical details. The regular updates of the graphic packages don’t limit even the most starry-eyed designers - there are no more ways to justify any bad design.

So we are left here to scroll the feed on Behance, Dribbble, and Abduzeedo anticipating new amazing trends to come. New technologies and trends only make us want to surround ourselves with beautiful things even more, and the designers, who have the newest technical possibilities are glad to be here to help us.

March 6, 2017