Thursday, September 10, 2009

Graphic Style: From Victorian to Digital

Book by Steven Heller, Seymour Chwast
The first volume of Graphic Style, a survey of graphic design history as seen through the lens of common visual mannerisms, otherwise known as styles, ended with the Post-Modern. At the time, "Post- Modernism" served as a catchall for various cultural phenomena of the late seventies and early eighties. The term was originally coined to distinguish contemporary approaches to literature and architecture from the Modernist ideology that had preceded them. Later, it was used as an umbrella covering all arts and popular culture that more or less veered from orthodox Modernism. Yet when "Post-Modern" was applied to graphic design, its imprecision was compounded by the fact that some of its common traits, such as the commingling of past and present styles, had been in practice earlier than the period designated by the rubric.

The Post-Modern section of this book was organized highlighting various subgenres that developed during this period that, at least superficially, possessed enough shared characteristics to suggest a stylistic manifestation. In general the category worked, although it is a fairly open pigeonhole. Admittedly, it has inconsistencies, yet when looking at design as style the tendency toward simplification is inevitable.

Styles are rarely summarily declared to be over, as if by some style-god on the mount; usually, they gradually fade from view, supplanted by "the next thing." The term Post-Modern made literal sense because it supplanted Modern, but with the current return to classic Modernist ideals of clarity and rationality, the time has come for a new prefix. Nonetheless, "Post-Post-Modern" is fairly unwieldy, not to mention vague. Moreover, some of the traits that were lumped together under
"Post-Modern" seem still to apply later on in the stylistic continuum. The challengein this, the first revision of Graphic Style to address the digital age, is how to categorize the subsequent period of design endeavor, much of which is derived from roots common or similar to the Post-Modern.

What constitutes the new style? To pick up from where the first edition of Graphic Style left off in 1988, it is obvious
that chaos became more popular than neatness, that type dominated narrative image, and that much that was new was inspired and facilitated by the computer. It was a period when styles were frequently appropriated to meet market demands. It was a time when disorder was considered "edgy," and then order even edgier. Edginess became the rallying cry for a revolution that really signified adherence to a new conformity.

Rather than use "edgy" or other common buzzwords--"cool," "hot," or "killer"--as a rubric, the added section to this revised edition, covering the period from 1985 to 2000, is called "Digital." This was a period when designers looked backward and forward, invented and mimicked, cluttered and economized. The rubric is open-ended, but for the purposes of this survey it delineates a convergence of old and new in art and technology that in turn underscores the stylistic manifestations that emerged during the final years of the twentieth century.

Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast

Visual Art and Contemporary Culture

Book by Susan G. Josephson
THIS BOOK TOOK SHAPE out of my many years teaching philosophy to
professional art students at the Columbus College of Art and Design.
There I have had many discussions about what is happening in art, and
the future direction of culture with the advent of the computer and
television. From these discussions an understanding of the cultural evolu-
tion of visual art in all its forms began to emerge. I found that there was no
book which really told the philosophy behind all of the visual arts that I
could use as a text in my classes. This was the beginning of this book in the
form of long handouts to my students which attempted to fill in the gap
between what I wanted to teach and the available textbooks.

This book records the conclusions that I came to as I thought
through the cultural evolution of each of the different sorts of visual art
and tried to piece together their story from the perspective of philoso-
phy. Chapter 1 discusses how culture shapes art to be what it is from
the outside, like a mold shapes clay, and the great power of art to affect
the way we think and to promote cultural change. Chapter 2 discusses
the evolution of Fine Art from its birth in the Renaissance to its present
old age and decline. Chapter 3 discusses the institutional structures that
make art for popular taste its own sort of art, and the culture wars over
censorship and whether public art should be Fine Art, or art for
popular taste. Chapters 4 and 5 discuss the life histories of design and

Clip-art image and photo picture definition

Ready-made pieces of printed or computerized graphic art, such as illustrations, borders, and backgrounds, which can be electronically copied and used to decorate a document. A set of canned images used to illustrate word processing and desktop publishing documents. Computer graphics files that can be inserted into a document or other file (the name derives from books of art from which designers literally clipped art to paste into their layouts). Clip art is included in many programs (especially Desktop Publishing and drawing applications such as Microsoft Publisher and CorelDraw!) and is also sold in separate packages.
The term "clip art" originated through the practice of physically cutting images from pre-existing printed works for use in other publishing projects. Before the advent of computers in publishing, clip art was used through a process called paste up. Many clip art images in this era qualified as line art. In this process, the clip art images are cut out by hand, and then attached via adhesives to a board representing a scale size of the finished, printed work. After the addition of text and art created through phototypesetting, the finished, camera-ready pages are called mechanicals. Since the 1990s, nearly all publishers have replaced the paste up process with desktop publishing.