Graphic design existed long before there were any graphic designers and this lavish volume is a vibrant tribute to beautifully crafted printed ephemera from the past. The art of combining text and pictures has been at the heart of the printer’s craft for hundreds of years. While early pioneers focused on books, others began using their presses for more humble uses, from handbills to games, advertisements and packaging. This so-called ‘jobbing’ work grew rapidly in importance, yet has been overlooked in histories of both print and graphic design.
Graphic Design before Graphic Designers is a visual journey through the pre-history of graphic design, charting the printer’s progress from tradesman to the hallowed status of artistic printer.
Showcasing work from a host of anonymous talents as well as seminal, pioneering typographers, artists and printers such as Bodoni, William Morris and Oscar Harpel, it reveals how those working on both sides of the Atlantic responded to everyday communication issues with original solutions and breathtaking flair and skill.
The extraordinarily diverse result is a cultural feast of the jobbing printer’s contribution to visual culture and heritage.