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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 September 2007
The two authors have scoured the rural lanes of the graphic landscape to come up with 113 interesting entries for their book, from Agit retro to Zanol. If you haven't heard of Zanol, join the queue. It turns out this thirties American founded company was an early style setter in having a corporate identity for its consumer product packaging and judging from the illustrations shown with the entry they probably worked, too.

The entries, as the authors rightly point out in the introduction, are their own choice for what they consider worthwhile graphic styles from the last hundred years or so. I thought the selection, at times, seems rather esoteric. What styles can be derived from the entries on Mini mannequins (seen on shop counters) Chinese calendar girls or Ripley's Believe it or not? Here they are though and it's certainly worth reading about them. No doubt readers will have their own worthwhile contributions to graphic styles missing from the book. Mine would be: Champion Papers 'Imagination' paper sample books, Twen magazine (the very influential German title) Blue Note record covers, Pentagram, Photolettering Inc and the USA Today weather maps.

The book is nicely designed but rather text heavy. I would have preferred more illustrations in a book dealing with essentially visual themes and I wish the authors had gone to the trouble of including, where practical, a suggested book at the end of each entry. There is a bibliography in the back with titles that have a generalised overview of the subject. The word conceit in the title blurb is very apposite because the book has its own conceit: finger tabs in a book of 336 pages. With so few pages the tabs have to be in three stages making it needlessly difficult to flip over the pages while using the cross references, so it gets four stars.

I found Stylepedia an interesting read for revealing lots of historical background to graphic styles that are taken for granted today. A book that complements it could be the 'Dictionary of Graphic Images' by Philip Thompson and Philip Davenport. A reference guide with over 1500 commercial graphic items mostly designed in the forties to the seventies. Like Stylepedia it is arranged alphabetically with captions and designer credits.
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on 21 May 2010
I have bought this book, hoping that I can use it as kind of a design manual, a source of inspiration and guidance on graphic styles. I was expecting something like :if I want to design something - for example- with a punky look, I could look it up in this book and find out about what are the particular design elements, tools, medium or whatever that are characteristic of this style.

From this point of view it has less use than the first results page of a google search; the descriptions of styles are short, with very few and little illustrations, not giving much mention to visual elements.

The author clearly has a wide knowledge of design styles, - many of which I haven't yet heard about - but I have the impression that too many of them been squeezed into this book which resulted in the descriptions being too brief to provide any useful information. On the other hand I can say that however short the descriptions they are insightful, and pretty interesting.

So all in all I can recommend the book if you are interested in the topic, and like to get little nuggets of unrelated information, but if you actually want to use this book to find out things I recommend google, or something. But not this book.
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on 20 May 2013
Stylepedia is an excellent reference book, specially if, like me, you are not from the field of arts/design (or alike) and you are still green on the design movements and their characteristics. Great book.
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