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The History of Print Design


Mitchel - October 11, 2016 - 0 comments


Print design, also well known as graphic design, is a great emotive information sharing tool that is widely used all over the world. Take for example a print design, where information is shared by promoting one of the most popular Manchester football clubs recently. Who remembers the now infamous “Welcome to Manchester” billboard that welcomed Carlos Tevez to Manchester City? This was designed to be emotive and confrontational. It got the reaction it was after by making the national headlines. On the other hand, other print design variants will provide important details and information on a particular person or a company, like in a business card design. All these forms of graphic design have their place.

A Brief History of Print Design

Graphic design reaches back through generations and can be found being used by ancient civilizations. The first known visual communication was found in the Lascaux caves in southern France wherein it depicted mainly large animals, once native to the region. The paintings are estimated to be up to 20,000 years old.

Here are some important facts about the history and the evolution of Print Design:

  •       3600BC – The first artifact that depicted the combination of pictures and words is the Blau monument.
  •       1045AD – The invention of a customizable print design was in China wherein the first type was a print template that has movable characters allowing customisation of information.
  •       1276 – The first printing press in Europe was founded in Fabriano, it consisted of a simple paper mill.
  •       1450 – A German named Johann Gensfleisch Zum Gutenberg was credited for perfecting the system of printing type in books, in which is now the foundation of the modern type of printing.
  •       1460 – Another German named Albrecht Pfister was credited for incorporating illustrations in books for the first time.
  •       1470 – Nicholas Jenson, a French engraver, develops the first Roman type faces. He is widely considered as one of history’s greatest typeface designers
  •       1530 – Claude Garamond founded the first type foundry, and started selling font types to printers.
  •       1760 – The industrial revolution gives graphic design the vehicle it needs for growth.
  •       1861 – William Morris sets up the first decorating firm. He is considered one of the main influencers of the history of design.
  •       1880 – First photograph printed with a full range of tones is achieved using a halftone screen. This technique would go on to be used in printing for many years. The first business cards printed en mass were created using this technique.
  •       1890 – Commercial design really takes off with shop signs, labels, business letterheads and office stationery starting to use the popular Art Nouveau movement for inspiration.
  •       1910 – German manufacturer, AEG (German General Electric), are credited with starting off the ‘corporate image’ movement with the first logo to be used across the entire business.
  •       1917 – The art movement named “De Stijl” (actually Dutch for “The style”) started to become popular with many graphic designers.
  •       1919 – the German school Bauhaus was founded and eventually provided the main framework of modern graphic design and print design along with other types of design such as architecture.
  •       1932 – Stanley Morison was mainly credited for overseeing the design and development of the font Times New Roman and was commissioned by the Times of London.
  •       1957 – Max Miedinger designs a much-loved font by designers around the world. Neue Haas Grotesk font is born. The font later gets renamed Helvetica.
  •       1969 – The first computer mouse is developed by Douglas Engelbart, setting the stage for the future tool of graphic design. Designers now have a new brush or pencil to craft their designs.
  •       1984 – Apple releases the first Macintosh computer using bitmap graphics. Designers now have a new canvas to get creative with.
  •       1985 – The term ‘Desktop Publishing’ is coined following the development of the first release of PageMaker software. This program makes creating print materials accessible to print designers.
  •       1990 – Photoshop version 1 is released. At the same time Physicist Tim Berners-Lee develops the world wide web. Two components key to any graphic designer for creating designs and communicating. Web design is also born.

As you can see print design has evolved over the years, so the next time you go and hire a graphic designer in Manchester to do a print design job for you, remember the history that goes all the way back to 15,000BC.


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