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10 Things You Never Knew About The Graphic Design History

by Gaurav Kumar Gupta Tweet - in Graphic Design - 7 min read

Graphic Design History

The history of graphic design goes back to many decades in the modern times. Starting from incorporating the classic elements in the designs to creating flat designs, the history has seen dozens of new trends. Today’s graphic designers use sophisticated tools that are bringing fast changes in this field.

What Is A Graphic Design?

According to Britannica.com, ‘’Graphic design, the art, and profession of selecting and arranging visual elements—such as typography, images, symbols, and colours—to convey a message to an audience. Sometimes graphic design is called “visual communications,” a term that emphasizes its function of giving form—e.g., the design of a book, advertisement, logo, or Website—to information.’’

Graphic Design

As you can gauge from the definition that main purpose of a graphic design is to convey a message to an audience. Thus, the designer combines verbal and visual elements in an orderly fashion. The designer is responsible for visually communicating a message.

The Evolution

The evolution of graphic design is closely related to the needs for visual imagination and communication, technological innovations, and social needs. Right from the ancient history to the modern times, there is a long tradition of creating a variety of graphic designs in various forms.

Dating back to manuscripts in ancient Egypt, Greece, and China, graphic design has seen many changes. For example, book production and printing in the 15th century brought new dimensions to the designs. The compositors and typesetters started designing the pages as they set the type.

At the onset of the 19th century, with the technological advancements, graphic designing became a profession. The job demanded some specialization due to the involvement of technology, industrialization, and commercial possibilities. One of the major developments was that the design became a communication medium.

graphic design

The designing part of the business was separated from the production part. Many organizations like advertising agencies, magazines, and book publishers started hiring art directors.

The job of art directors was to ensure better visual communication by organizing all the visual elements as one creative unite. It was in 1922 that typographer William A. Dwiggins first coined the term graphic design for this emerging field of visual communication.

The 20th century saw further technological advancements that help expand graphic design enormously. Now, graphic designers started creating magazine design, which was so far not touched by the designers. The designers gave magazines an entirely different look due to the involvement of art. The competition to stand out also was a factor for magazines hiring graphic designers.

Graphic designers gave posters a new look. They were experimenting with typefaces, colors, and images to create a unique poster design that visually communicates an event and brand message.

Once advertisements were boring stuff. People got some details about prices etc from the ads published in newspapers etc. But graphic designers made this field exciting and interactive too. They created advertisement design that engaged people and visually communicated a business message to target audience.

By the turn of the 21st century, graphic design was a well recognized global profession as this technology had spread throughout the world.

The world of graphic design is like a vast ocean that’s replete with numerous secrets! During past many decades, it has evolved at a dramatic pace! It seems as if there has been a spate amongst graphic designers to find new and innovative ideas.

They all wanted to make it easy for businesses to stand out in the market. They wanted to create designs that make a deep impact on their consumers, prospects, affiliates and the entire market.

Graphic designs such as professional logo design, creative web designs, social media page designs and a host of other such designs are essential for the effective branding of businesses. In fact, experts and industry insiders believe that a business goes nowhere without great designs. Here you can find out more about the best graphic designs for your business in your budget.

For graphic designers, it’s important to get acquainted with graphic design history to understand how it has evolved over the years. They should know how its past has helped shape the present and future of the designing arena worldwide.

graphic designer

You may be knowing the history of graphic design. Still, some exciting facts may have missed your attention.

Here Are 10 Things You Never Knew About the Graphic Design History

  • Logo design is believed to have started in the 13th century when ancient Egyptians branded domestic animals with hieroglyphs to mark their ownership.
  • Graphic design began with the Sumerian pictographs and Egyptian Hieroglyphics during 2500 BC to 1400 BC.
  • Typography emerged in the mid-1400s using reusable Meta. Johann Gutenberg was the one who developed the first ever movable type. Claude Garamond opens first type foundry, developing and selling fonts to printers in 1530. Today, a wide range of typefaces are available for use in website design etc graphic designs.
  • In the 18th century, letters were designed on the basis of the mathematical drafting principles. Ornamental typography also started in the 1800s. First sans-serif font was introduced.
  • In the late 1800s, Art Nouveau emerged as an international art style and soon took the world of graphic design by storm.
  • Helvetica font was introduced to the world in the 20th century and soon it became one of the most used fonts.
  • Pop Art and Psychadelia became popular graphic design styles between 1960s and 1970s.
  • In the mid-1970s, designers paid more attention to word spacing, distorting type, typewriter type, and collage.
  • From the 1990s forward, street style design became popular. Typefaces were mass produced and marketed for computers.
  • The world’s first ever website was launched in the year 1992.

These are just some of the many interesting facts about the brief history of graphic design. The aim here is to make you understand how graphic design and its elements have evolved over the years. If you are a graphic designer, you’ll definitely find a new lease of inspiration with the colorful graphic design history.

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So, as is clear, the graphic design evolved fast over the decades with the advances in technologies and commercial interests. Every organization wanted to look different. There was a pressure to stand out in a market. Graphic designs helped small and big companies to make a meaningful visual communication with a target audience.

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Graphic design has a long history. It evolved with the technological advancements, industrialization, and commercial interests. The rising need for visual communication with target audience has made graphic designers’ services essential for businesses in the modern times.

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Gaurav Kumar has been a blogger, digital marketer and an SEO expert at Designhill.com, one of the fastest growing custom design crowdsourcing platforms. Over the years, he has been helping small businesses and startups improve website design and SEO strategy, content marketing and user experience.



  • Victor Swarovski

    Ancient Egyptians in the 13th century… sounds a little bit weird 🙂