Design History – 40s & 50s the age of the Graphic Designer

40s and 50s Graphic Design
40s and 50s Graphic Design

Information Graphics

During WWII, graphic designers, illustrators, and artists used their talents to disseminate information and propaganda. Later, instead of promoting countries, the same strategies were used to promote products and enterprises.

Power of the Poster

During the war, posters encouraged people to enlist in the army or provided directions, such as wearing a gas mask. Others were propaganda aimed at instilling patriotic hate of the adversary in the public. Abram Games was the official poster artist in the United Kingdom (1914 – 1996). He was a big fan of catchy phrases and created the renowned ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ posters.

Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades - Poster Art by Abram Games
Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades – Poster Art by Abram Games

Postwar Poster Influence

Designers continued to employ symbols to communicate concepts in an interesting way after the conflict. The Festival of Britain emblem (’51), for example, was meticulously crafted to instil pride in the United Kingdom by showcasing Britannia’s Union Jack colours and head.

Raymond Loewy – Father of Design

Working in the United States, French-born designer Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986) pioneered the concept of ‘good design’. He recognised that consumers had grown more sophisticated. He advised manufacturers to woo their customers with elegant and streamlined designs.  
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Raymond Loewy featured image
Raymond Loewy featured image

Simple Text

‘Open Sans,’ a sans serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson, is what you’re reading right now. The clean lines of sans serif typefaces, such as Univers, were considered modern in the 1940s and 1950s.

Long-Term Logos

Companies commissioned expert designers to create logos that would last a lifetime as they grew more aware of the significance of branding. They sought to recruit devoted customers who would stick to a single, well-known brand. One of the most successful and long-lasting corporate identification emblems was Paul Rand’s logo for IBM (1956). Rand’s ability to break down the logo into simple, timeless shapes contributed to his design clarity.

Sources

Jones, H. (1999). 20th-Century Design: 40s And 50s: War and post-war years. Heinemann Library.

Important Graphic Designers

  • Michael Peters (b. 1941) British Graphic Designer

    Yes Logo featured image

    The 1980s in Britain were marked by an apparent economic rebound and a newfound enthusiasm among Britons for business, risky capitalism, and design. Design was pushed as a fundamental ingredient to financial success by a new generation of design entrepreneurs, one of them being Michael Peters.Read More →

  • Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design

    Herbert Bayer - Inspiration and Process in Design featured image

    Herbert Bayer (1900–1985) was one of the most influential graphic designers of the twentieth century, with a prolific career spanning more than six decades and two continents. As a student and teacher at the Bauhaus, he used geometry, photomontage, functional analysis, and simplified typography to forge a new approach to graphic design. This book explores the evolution of Bayer’s design process, from his student works featuring hand lettering to mechanically printed typography and hyperreal photo illustrations.Read More →

  • Karel Teige (1900 – 1951) Czech art critic, typographic artist and collagist

    Karel Teige featured image

    Between the wars, Teige was a prominent figure in Czech art and architecture. He was the editor of many avant-garde magazines, including Disk, Stavba, and ReD, and wrote about photography. Read More →

  • Alexander Girard (1907 – 1993) American interior, & Textile designer

    Alexander Girard (1907 – 1993) was a man of many design talents. He trained asRead More →

  • Herb Lubalin (1918 – 1981) renowned graphic designer

    Herb Lubalin

    Renowned American graphic designer, Herb Lubalin, best known for his collaborations with Ralph Ginzburg on the magazines Eros, Fact and  Avant Garde,  is regarded as one of the seminal designers of the 20th century. The, 17 March 2018, will mark what would have been Lubalin’s 100th birthday.Read More →

  • Enid Crystal Dorothy Marx (1902 – 1998) British textile and graphic designer

    Dorothy Marx textile designer featured image

    Designs for London Underground seats. She studied painting and wood engraving at the Royal College of Art in London, as well as at the Central School of Arts and Crafts.Read More →

  • Stanley Morison (1889-1967) – Designer of Times New Roman typeface

    Stanley Morison featured image

    Stanley Morison, widely regarded as one of the most influential typographic designers of the twentieth century, was drawn to the subject by his passionate interest. Early on, he worked for several publishers and printing houses, including Francis Meynell’s Pelican Press and the Cloister Press. Read More →

  • Milton Glaser (1929 – 2020) American Graphic Designer

    Milton Glaser featured image

    Co-founder of Push Tin Studios. The colourful posters of designer-illustrator Milton Glaser epitomise an era for the Woodstock generation. His psychedelic ‘American Sixties style’ was a synthesis of various influences ranging from Surrealism to Islamic painting.Read More →

  • Paul Follot (1877 – 1941) French decorative artist and sculptor

    Paul Follot featured image

    His early graphic design reflected a fascination with mediaeval and Pre-Raphaelite art. He joined Julius Meier-shop Graefe’s La Maison Moderne in Paris in 1901. He met Maurice Dufréne and designed bronzes, jewellery, and fabrics.Read More →

  • William Dwiggins (1880-1956) – Typographer and all rounder

    William Dwiggins featured image

    Dwiggins was born in Martinsville, Ohio in 1880, he had studied East in Chicago, and then he moved to Boston.  Between the years 1917-1918, he became the acting director of the Harvard University Press.  He also worked for the Yale Universty Press, designing jackets, endpapers, bindings and posters.Read More →

  • Massimo Vignelli designer of subway maps to corporate logos

    Massimo Vignelli Italian Designer

    Massimo Vignelli and his wife Leila, an architect, were considered a husband and wife team credited with introducing restrained, European fashion and taste in America in the 1970s.Read More →

  • Marcello Minale (1938 – 2000) Italian designer

    Print early 1981 designed by Marcello Minale

    He worked as a designer at the Finnish advertising agency Taucker and as an art director at Mackkinointi Uiherjuuri. He was the design director at the Young and Rubicam advertising agency in London until 1964. He founded a design firm with Brian Tattersfield in 1964. Read More →

  • Wolfgang Weingart – Swiss Typographer and Designer

    What is the most memorable piece of typography you have come across? “I’ll go for Typographic Process, Nr. 4 Typographic Signs designed by Wolfgang Weingart in 1971 because it was one of the first designs with typography as the main element and the one that inspired me the most.”Read More →

  • Michele Provinciali (1921 – 2009) Italian Industrial Designer

    Michele Provincali Graphics

    He received the ADI’s Compasso d’Oro Award for his career in 2008. Michele Provinciali provides an alternative trend to the late rationalist approach typical of the postwar period in every art form. He is expressive, poetic, experimental, abnormal, and refined in every art form.Read More →

  • Edward Bawden British painter, illustrator and graphic designer

    Edward Bawden - Liverpool Street Station, 1961. Lithograph

    Edward Bawden was a British painter, illustrator, and graphic artist. Bawden studied at the Cambridge School of Art from 1919 to 1922 and at the Royal College of Art from 1922 to 1925, where Paul Nash was one of his teachers and Eric Ravilious was a close friend. Read More →

  • Beauty through the eyes of Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh

    Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh article

    Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh have been contemplating the concept of beauty. This may seem unsurprising, given that both are designers at the top of the design food chain, and aesthetics, you’d think, would be a constant priority.Read More →

  • studio de Ronners – Design Inspiration for Print Lovers ♥︎

    Studio de Ronners is an agency for graphic communication and concepting. In collaboration with their clients — we develop provocative concepts. Read More →

  • David Gentleman (b.1930) British graphic artist & designer

    David Gentleman - Postage Stamp

    His subjects are paintings of landscapes, environmental posters and sketches of street life, and protest signs. He has written and illustrated several books, most of them are about countries and cities. He also produced several commemorative postage stamps for the United Kingdom.Read More →

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