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Graphic Design: A New History [Paperback]

Stephen J. Eskilson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Oct 2007
The history of graphic design is a very underpublished subject for such a widely studied discipline. Now Stephen Eskilson provides a scholarly and accessible account of the field from Gutenberg to today. His approach is distinctive in that, for the first time, the subject is fully discussed in the light of prevailing political, social, military, and economic conditions, nationalism and gender, so this book is ideal for course adoptions. Clearly designed and easy-to-follow, the book tells the story chronologically with key topics developed in more than one chapter by way of cultural comparison. It covers a host of different materials: book, journal, magazine, and album covers; photographs, prints, posters, logos and websites. Featured designers include Albers, Benton, Brody, Earls, Glaser, Morris, Rodchenko, Sagmeister, Scher and Toulouse-Lautrec. Logo designers Bass, Chermayeff & Geismar, and Rand receive substantial coverage. Pioneering typographers range from Garamond, Caslon and Morison to Hoefler, Licko and Carter.

Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Laurence King (8 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856695115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856695114
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 22.3 x 29.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 227,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"...a visual tour of the past 100-plus years." -- Dynamic Graphics

"...the most significant American contribution to graphic design history since the first edition of Meggs." -- Eye Magazine

"A weighty and extremely accessible history of graphic design...what this book does and does very well, is help us look back and trace our roots with the rigour that our discipline very much deserves and needs. Understanding our own story helps us to have a better understanding of where we are going and ultimately what it means to be a graphic designer today, but also gives us insight into what being a graphic designer tomorrow might mean." -- Creative Review

About the Author

Stephen Eskilson is an Associate Professor in the Art Department at Eastern Illinois University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars USAcentricity 19 Sep 2008
This is a well written and very useful, up to date History but it has missed out one the greatest designers of the 20th Century- Abram Games. Most Design Historians would place Games at the top alongside Saul Bass, Paul Rand and Milton Glaser. So this is a bit like history of pop music that misses out Bob Dylan or Frank Zappa. That said you get a lot of good stuff for the money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amzing 18 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a great book to read. must have for graphic designers. . . . . . . . . . .
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5.0 out of 5 stars simply excellent 14 May 2010
for the price of this book you cant go wrong, it has information on every major design movement you could want and even more. This will help me for years to come.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book 9 Mar 2010
I am a graphic designer and I have just embarked on a graphic design course. I bought this book thinking that it would be a good reference tool. It is that and more. It is a wonderful book and I would recommend it to anyone in the business, learning the business or just interested in graphic design. I can't praise it highly enough. I am so glad I made my purchase.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't wait till your professor assigns this book . . . 16 Feb 2008
By Robert S. Petersen - Published on
Eskilson's New History is a long overdue addition to textbooks on Graphic Design that before now have had to largely suffice with the sporadically updated Meggs' History of Graphic Design. Eloquent and illuminating, Eskison spans the modern age and then goes deep into contemporary design with a fine attention to the artistic and technical developments in the field. Eskilson pays special attention to the challenges and creative solutions that graphic designers have devised with valuable insights into the society that these designs were made for. Eskilson is especially effective in drawing out connections between graphic design and larger world events, such as: the growth of British World War I propaganda posters and their subsequent impact on the raw emotional power of propaganda design, the London Underground on popularizing Modernism, and motion graphics and the blurred boundaries of new digital technologies. One of the great strengths of this text over Meggs' text is the way Eskilson ably links innovations in Modern Art and Architecture with developments in Graphic Design. Too often the history of Graphic Design has been treated as a study that only concerns fellow designers and the interactions between Graphic Design and the Fine Art world have been given short shrift.

While Eskilson is chiefly interested in communicating the broad outlines of Graphic Design History for an undergraduate audience, to call this book a textbook is to do a great disservice to the extraordinary design layout, which can certainly hold its own against any other fine art book stacked up on your coffee table. Yale UP and Eskilson are to be praised for the gorgeous selection of large color reproductions. Don't wait till your professor assigns this book, buy this one just for the pleasure of enjoying a great read and a beautiful design.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Meggs. 16 May 2011
By Steven J Cox - Published on
I have read this text (cover to cover) for a History of Graphic Design class I teach. In the past, I have used the classic Meggs History of Graphic Design. I decided to try another text this semester, and I will be going back to Meggs next Spring. I found the higher number of images in Eskilson's book initially appealing, and from a quick scan of the text, it seemed fine. However, digging deeper into the text, I found that the price paid for all the pretty pictures was a less comprehensive text with some weird omissions.

Aside from skipping a significant amount of important territory in early design history (Guttenberg is in the "preface"? Really?), there were other inclusions and omissions that gave this text the feel of an editorial on design history, not a textbook. I don't care - or want to know - the personal design tastes of Eskilson. I don't want to know his political bent. I want to know the facts. Let my students and I evaluate the merits of a given design movement or designer.

The biggest omission (in my opinion) in this book was the complete absence of any work from David Carson. While we can argue the merits of his work, he was clearly a significant, important designer in the 90's. Much more than Tomato(!?) or Art Chantry. The text pertaining to Carson smells of personal distaste, not objective analysis. This, again, has no place in a history text. A book that is a series of critical essays on the history of design? Absolutely! But not a book claiming to be history, not opinion.

Others have mentioned the inaccuracies in the text, so I will leave it at was already said.

OK, one (of many) minor peeve: when writing about the psychedelic posters of the 60's, Eskilson refers to "Richard Griffin". A 5-minute scan online will show that the artists' name is Rick Griffin (I'm not talking about his birth certificate, but how he signed his work - all of it that I know of). Is this a big deal? No, but it communicates a lack of personal knowledge of the field - whether this is justified or not - that reduces the perceived credibility of the author. If I wrote a book on physics, and referred to "Al Einstein", I would not be taken seriously.

Enough. I'm done ranting. If you're really interested in the History of Graphic Design, get the Meggs book and expand out from there. I now view the Eskilson text as an additional resource, not a main reference source.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great textbook 27 Jan 2009
By M. Harrison - Published on
This is the text book for my History of Graphic Design course...the pictures are great and the text is easy to follow, interesting to read. I've enjoyed it so far.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! More then worth the money! :) 30 Nov 2009
By B. Pulecio - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Got this book for a Graphic Design history class, wasn't too excited about the thickness of the book, but it's not that bad. It has a bunch of pictures to show you what he's talking about. This book has taught me soo much, my work has greatly improved and I know where to cite references, so I sound smarter. Goes into a more than just the work, but what's going on in the world at the time and why it's affecting it. The book jumps around at times when certain movements overlap, but overall I think it's a great book, and well worth the money, and when your done with it it'll make a nice coffee table piece.
5.0 out of 5 stars a deep dip into the history of graphic design 17 May 2011
By a sociologist who loves art history - Published on
This book provides the history of graphic design and typography in a manner far more complex than a sweeping catalogue of images, styles, movements, and functions changing through time. It embeds these elements within the historical and technological patterns and events which both spawned changes in design, and were in turn deeply influenced by this art form. This accessible entwining of graphic design and typography with social history fosters a more lucid understanding of the role of these very human forms of communication over time, including the transforming innovations of the late 20th--early 21st centuries.
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