Design History Made

Through time the design of posters has changed dramatically, yet it was never regarded as a piece of art or design work. Just something that was pasted up on a wall which informed the public of a product, an event, or a cause. Not so much to persuade but to inform. The same concept was taken for packaging of products, business development, and promotion. After many years artists, illustrators and designers became tired of seeing the same old style of design to inform the public, and to instead create something more visually interesting and to put their skills to good cause. Eventually this style of working for them changed their lifestyles, putting many designers out of freelance work and instead being hired full time in the advertising and marketing sectors of the business industry, creating new faces for companies to increase net profit.

The visual world of advertisement and marketing was dramatically changed by one man’s idea to change lives of creatives as a benefit to all. Ken Garland published an article named ‘First Things First’, a manifesto first published in 1964, London. It was signed by twenty-one of his colleagues, pleading to manufacturers of products, or organisations trying to spread a message, to recognise the importance of image and to put their skills to good use. The way in which it makes us feel, how it persuades us, and how the image attempts to engage us, whether it be through shape, colour, picture or type.

This publication could not have been published at a better and more crucial time, where the British economy was rising, and wealthy nations of Europe and the U.S.A. were coming up with new inventions. Such as insights into computers, TV’s, fridges, cars, the exploration of Space, celebration after World War II had ended, and most importantly the exploration into new cultures which opened up a world of different styles of music and fashion. A new and ever changing era had taken course. What had remained interchangeable was the same old style of design for packaging, posters and advertisement. After all, the majority of the globe were still recovering from the loss of history that had been made, and the loss of millions of peoples’ lives.

At first, four-hundred copies were made of the publication. The twenty-one signatories consisted of some, well-established creatives, and others were teachers, students, photographers, and starting designers. For what the document was, many people from all ages were interested in making a difference to their careers and others among them, whether they were younger or older, less experienced, or lacked knowledge in what makes graphic design.

After thirty-five years, an updated version of the publication was released, instead with forty-five signatories. Many around the world came to speculate and wonder at this publication as to what was necessary for manufacturers to make a significant amount of profit out of smart, persuasive and creative advertising of their products and companies to promote their services. Different manufacturers around the world made use of hiring these creative individuals, putting them in the spotlight. As well as making these creatives’ lives easier with putting their skills forward to earn a living, much of what they designed felt it was towards an inessential product or service to the public. Instead, many of these designers wanted to make a necessary change to the world by proposing a reversal of how their skill has been put to use at best.

Instead of people thinking about how an advert was informing someone of a product or a service, the common person now thinks about how if makes them feel in terms or the design and creative element of the advertisement. In some way you could say that advertisers are better off without the creative ‘nonsense’ that persuades us to look at the advert, and not read or listen at the information within it to which it provides us.

As a graphic designer and communicator in the making, I now realise how important it is to balance the elements of my design out. To provide the information, but to also reflect on the information, which is why it is so important to research and know about the context of my work, and to reflect on the eyes of the audience as well.

What I find so interesting today is that old styles of advertising and graphic design are being brought back into play. Not only is it informational but the aesthetic of vintage design catches the eye so much. For example, the Kellogg’s Company History Timeline shows how the design of the packaging has changed from remaining to word and type changing to incorporating images which take over 3/4 of the box. Of course, images were produced at an expense, and illustrators were hard to come by to create characters to engage children into what animations and cartoons they would either see on TV or in magazines and comic books. Here, the printing company Alexander’s Print Advantage, explain how CMYK was discovered in 1906, and how it produced richer and darker tones. Because it was four colours that produced many difference and richer colours and tones, it was more expensive to have designs printed. Depending on the net profit that was produced from selling products, a company would decide whether they could afford to print more appealing and persuasive designs onto packaging. Further encouraging customers to buy Kellogg’s cereal for their children, toys were hidden in boxes.

The invention of personal computers soon changed the process of working for the working class, making it more efficient to complete tasks. In 1987 the invention of a programme named Photoshop changed the working process of designers and image makers. The development of Photoshop turned made images perfect with a few small adjustments to transform people’s bodies into the ideals of what people imagined to be desirable. It transformed society for the worse, which triggered the update to the version of the ‘First Things First’ manifesto in 2000. With an ever changing society filled with different cultures, religions and views, slowly the public have started to realise what is morally and ethically wrong and right, but also to learn what is acceptable.


Author: jennifertaylorgraphics

First year student studying Graphic Communication at the Cardiff School of Art and Design

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