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

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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 interestingly 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.

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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. (2000). 20Th century design: The 40s & 50s: War and postwar years. Gareth Stevens. Retrieved from https://amzn.to/3LRqLDa.

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Important Graphic Designers

  • The Impact of Alan Fletcher on British Graphic Design

    The Impact of Alan Fletcher on British Graphic Design

    Alan Fletcher was a highly regarded British graphic designer who worked for IBM, Fortune magazine, and the Container Corporation of America. Fletcher was interested in visual ambiguity and added value, investing solutions with visual surprise and wit.Read More →

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

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

    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 →

  • William Morris – Beauty of Practicality

    William Morris – Beauty of Practicality

    Morris believed his responsibility was “to revive a sense of beauty in home life, to restore the dignity of art to household decoration.Read More →

  • Walter Allner (1906โ€“2006), an American painter and designer

    Walter Allner (1906โ€“2006), an American painter and designer

    Walter Allner (1906โ€“2006) was an American painter and designer known for his creativity, artistic skill, and imagination. He was trained at the Bauhaus under Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, and Joost Schmidt and used bold colours, strong typography, and striking imagery in his designs.Read More →

  • Wolfgang Weingart – Swiss Typographer and Designer

    Wolfgang Weingart – Swiss Typographer and Designer

    He was dubbed “the father” of New Wave or Swiss Punk typography . LEARN MORERead More →

  • Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) – art that danced

    Keith Haring (1958 – 1990)  – art that danced

    Keith Haring was best known for his graffiti-like painting, initially on the black paper used to cover discontinued billboard advertisements in the New York subway. After after a feverish 1980’s style career of surging popular success and grudging critical attention, Haring died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 31.Read More →

  • Ikko Tanaka (1930 -2002) ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Graphic Design blend of East and West

    Ikko Tanaka (1930 -2002)  ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Graphic Design blend of East and West

    Ikko Tanaka was a Leading Graphic Designer in Japan. He had an enormous impact on the post-war visual culture in Japan.Read More →

  • Gustav Klutsis (1895 -1944) photographic montage

    Gustav Klutsis (1895 -1944) photographic montage

    Gustav Klutsis was a Latvian artist and graphic, poster and applied arts designer who was a devoted supporter of the Boshevik regime and a member of the communist party. He was the pioneer of photomontage in the Soviet Union and an acclaimed graphic designer and painter. Influences included Suprematism and Constructivism. LEARN MORERead More →

  • Paul Bacon (1923 – 2015) – created looks for books

    Paul Bacon (1923 – 2015) – created looks for books

    Paul Bacon was not a household name, but anyone who has a passion for books will have seen his works. Bacon was an artist, who used minimal imagery and bold typography to sell famous novels such as, “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest’s and Phillip Roth’s “Portnoy’s complaint?Read More →

  • Robert Bonfils (1886 – 1972) French Graphic Artist

    Robert Bonfils (1886 – 1972) French Graphic Artist

    Born in Paris, Robert Bonfils was a French graphic artist, painter, and designer. He studied at the ร‰cole Germain-Pilon in 1903 and at the ร‰cole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1906. He worked for Henri Hamm, a furniture designer. His work included paintings, bookbindings, ceramics for Sรจvres, Bianchini-Frerier silk, wallpaper and interior design layouts.…

  • Dan Friedman (1945 – 1995) American Graphic Designer

    Dan Friedman (1945 – 1995) American Graphic Designer

    Dan Friedman (1945โ€“1995) was a prolific graphic and furniture designer, artist, writer, and educator. Friedman’s work posed a radical challenge to tradition and commodification in design practice. His work is held in the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.Read More →

  • Giovanni Pintori (1912 – 1999) Italian Graphic Design

    Giovanni Pintori (1912 – 1999) Italian Graphic Design

    Giovanni Pintori (1912โ€“1999) was an Italian graphic designer best known for his advertising work with Olivetti. His posters for the Lettera 22 and Olivetti logo are renowned for their use of geometric shapes and minimalist design. Read More →

  • Poster for Nikon (1957) by Yusaku Kamekura

    Poster for Nikon (1957) by Yusaku Kamekura

    Yusaku Kamekura’s poster emphasises the brilliance and clarity attained with the Nikon lens and the technical perfection of his client’s camera by using brilliant optical patterns and powerful, white letter-forms against an intensely dark background. Read More →

  • Renรฉ Kieffer (1875 -1964) – French Bookbinder

    Renรฉ Kieffer (1875 -1964) – French Bookbinder

    Renรฉ Kieffer was a gilder at the Chambolle-Duru bindery for ten years. In 1903, set up his workshop at 99 boulevard St-Germain, Paris. Later he moved to 41 rue St-Andre-des-Arts and finally, in 1910, to 18 rue Seguier. A disciple of Henri Marius ยญMichel, his work shifted from classical forms to motifs in the Art…

  • Robert Oxenaar (b.1939) Designer of Dutch Banknotes

    Robert Oxenaar (b.1939) Designer of Dutch Banknotes

    Robert Oxenaar (1929 – 2017) Designer of Dutch banknotes and stamps. Head of the Art and Design branch of the Dutch postal service. Helped launch a new generation of Dutch designers in the 1970s, including notables like Gert Dumbar.Read More →

  • Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) American multi-disciplined designer

    Herbert Bayer (1900 – 1985) American multi-disciplined designer

    Herbert Bayer was one of the Bauhaus’s most influential students, teachers, and proponents. Most of Bayer’s photographs come from the decade 1928โ€“38, when he was based in Berlin working as a commercial artist. He designed the show Road to Victory (1942), which would set the course for Steichen’s influential approach to photography.Read More →

  • Hiroshi Awatsuji (1929 – 1995) Japanese Textile Designer

    Hiroshi Awatsuji (1929 – 1995) Japanese Textile Designer

    Hiroshi Awatsuji (1929- 1995) was a Japanese textile and graphic designer: born in Kyoto. He was considered the first Japanese textile designer to be recognised for contemporary design rather than for traditional art and craft. The main characteristic of his work was over sized motifs.Read More →

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