THE Book: A History of Graphic Design

Review: The definitive history, a must-have for any student of graphic arts

A History of Graphic Design, 3rd ed.

Philip B. Meggs (1942-2002) was an important figure in the world of design education. By the time of his death, he was a widely-regarded professor in Communication Arts and Design at Virginia Commonwealth University (chair of his department for 13 years) and part of the visiting faculty at Syracuse University and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin Ireland. The journal Graphis called him “as a pragmatist who believed that a solid foundation in the history of the field was necessary but lacking.” In filling that percieved need, he created a book that is regarded almost universally as the definitive published history of graphic design.

First published in 1983, A History of Graphic Design encompasses the development of the discipline, starting with the markings on the walls of the caves of Lascaux, moving through the first alphabets, into early typography and Gutenberg, touching landmarks of 20th Century design such as the Bauhaus, introducing the reader to Lumieré, the first photographs, and chromolithography, and bringing us up to the present day, with trends in digital design.

The book unfolds logically and thoughtfully, and the text is a roster of important names, form the Limbourg Bothers and Johann Fust through Dürer, Jenson, Saul Bass, Slimbach and Licko. No important stone is left unturned.

Straightforwardly designed in and of itself and well-illustrated, the book is a pleasure for the eye to behold as well. Set in 8.5/12 Neue Helvetica 55, the text does not tax the eye, allowing the information to flow. But aside from such austere concerns, the book itself is thorough enough that it is considered part of the standard curriculum in design programs nationwide–even my own humble Portland Community College used it (which is how I got my copy).

This is a book which I feel should be on the shelf of every person who considers themselves a student of the discipline. One comes away from it with a mindful, thoughtful appreciation of where design has been–and perhaps Meggs would have agreed if I say that, in a discipline such as ours, a knowledge of the past will inform and enhance the future.

A History of Graphic Deisgn, 3rd Ed.
By Philip B. Meggs
510pp with index, Wiley, 1998
ISBN 0-471-29198-6
Available from

What is the PGDA?

Mission statement and code of ethics of the Professional Graphic Design Association

In the past few months a group of like-minded graphic designers have been talking seriously about our profession, where it’s headed along with clients’ needs and expectations. The discussion has resulted in the formation of a graphic design organization supporting the ethics of our business, but focused on clients. The Professional Graphic Designers Association (PGDA).

With the recent events in the design world, it’s apparent the time is over ripe to bring the PGDA to the industry.

To begin, we’ll be posting online surveys targeted to clients as well as designers. From the information gleaning in these surveys, we’ll tweak the PGDA mission, scope and goals prior to solidifying the organization’s structure. shown below.

Click here to take the Client survey

Click here to take the Designer survey

Follows the PGDA Code of Ethics.

Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice

This code has been reproduced here with the permission of the PGDA. Should you want to publish it anywhere else please contact Catherine Morley (link to her blog is provided below).

Professional Graphic Designers Association (PGDA) Mission Statement:

“Our mission is to establish, through industry consensus, a code of ethics and standards of professional practices that are targeted toward educating clients about the value of graphic design, as well as creating a smoother working relationship between clients and designers.”


Following are the objectives for the formation of the PGDA:

  1. A strategy for creating professional, ethical, client-focused standards and making these standards easily available.
  2. A strategy for educating clients about the value of marketing and design.
  3. A strategy for the promotion of the PGDA to both clients and designers (grass-roots, viral-marketing, forum-postings, affiliations, use of membership fees for advertisements, etc.).
  4. A strategy for aliances with related graphics and design web sites/organizations and business groups.
  5. Creation of a web site that clients can visit for more information about ethical design practices. The site is to be simple, non-threatening and easily accessible to clients.


In an effort to create a smooth and productive working relationship with every client, members of the PGDA strive to:

  1. Always act in the best interests of the client and the client’s business.
  2. Always work with contracts for the mutual protection of themselves and clients, abide by said contracts, and never unreasonably withdraw services.
  3. Always engage in ethical business practices, which include maintaining honest and forthright communications with clients, avoiding hidden fees or costs, and avoiding unsolicited electronic marketing.
  4. Always document all agreements with clients and keep accurate records.
  5. Always protect the privacy and rights of clients by never inappropriately disclosing information about a client’s business, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
  6. Always represent themselves, their skills and the PGDA accurately and professionally.
  7. Always promote client education of best practices in the areas of design and/or marketing.

Members of the PGDA also endeavor to maintain the highest level of integrity in our profession, and promote the value and legitimacy of design and marketing by:

  1. Never working on speculation or for the promise of future payments or work.
  2. Never plagiarizing the works of others, or knowingly infringing upon copyrights or trademarks.
  3. Never creating work that disregards the health and safety of the community, or is blatantly discriminatory or offensive.
  4. Never using work for the purpose of self-promotion without the knowledge and consent of clients.
  5. Never reselling or repurposing finished works to other clients.
  6. Never sacrificing design quality or integrity, no matter how small the project.
  7. Never misrepresenting involvement or failing to attribute proper credit for collaborative or work-for-hire projects.
  8. Never using unattributed/uncredited text, articles or other materials the designer did not create for the purpose of self-promotion or self-marketing.
  9. Never allowing skills and knowledge of the industry to stagnate or fail to evolve.

Furthermore, the members of the PGDA make the following promises for every project:

  1. We strive for excellence in branding, aesthetic design, and visual communication, with the goal of improving the business of every client.
  2. We strive for excellence in the quality of every project, so that they are free of mistakes and technically sound in order to achieve efficient production.
  3. We strive for excellence in communication with every client and production contact so that every step of the project flows smoothly.

Benefits to Clients

  1. A centralized location for information regarding ethical and professional standards within the graphic design industry.
  2. Protection (in the form of working with members) from unethical business practices.
  3. A forum for airing grievances and concerns or offering suggestions for the industry.
  4. A means to find designers who have vowed to uphold the principles of the PGDA as working with members of the PGDA will ensure a smoother, more productive experience.
  5. A means for education about the design industry, including best practices and benefits for professional-quality marketing and design.
  6. A means for exposure of their business / service through case-studies, announcements, press releases, etc.

Designer benefits:

  1. One compact site where clients can be sent to learn about ethical business practices.
  2. The PGDA can be used as a marketing and promotional tool, and profiles/portfolios for paid members can provide additional exposure.
  3. The promotion of the PGDA, through press releases and articles, will help to promote all members.
  4. Low-cost membership fees.


The formation of certification, testing or any other criteria to “officially” recognize what constitutes a Graphic Designer is NOT part of the PGDA Mission Statement. The PGDA is intended as a resource for providing examples of ethical guidelines and “best practices,” all intended to better educate clients about the values and benefits of professional quality graphic design and marketing. The goal is to create a more trusting and smoother working relationship between clients and designers.

Part of what will help to establish trust, at least early in the life of the PGDA, is to remain as much of a resource as possible, rather than a governing or policing body. In that light, the “official” policy of the PGDA should be to remain neither explicitly for nor against certification. (Besides, we do not have the US$ half a million++ to jumpstart a project of that magnitude.)

Please note: for now, any updates can be found on Robert Wurth’s site at Freshly Squeezed Design

Special thanks to Catherine Morley for permission to reproduce this article and the PGDA’s Code of Ethics.

Fontcraft Assists Hurricane Relief

Digital typefounder donates proceeeds of font sales to Red Cross, Baton Rouge Food Bank

Our offer to contribute all proceeds from the sales of Ironworks for the past two days to hurricane Katrina disaster relief was quite successful

Digital typefoundry Fontcraft, in the post in thier news site Scriptorium for 5 August 2005, “Fonts for Distater Relief #2″, details thier efforts to generate donations for disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The first stage of the drive involved donating all proceed from the sale of thier font “Ironworks” over the period of 3-4 Sept to the Red Cross. “Our offer to contribute all proceeds from the sales of Ironworks for the past two days to hurricane Katrina disaster relief was quite successful, raising $522 which has been sent to the Red Cross”, stated Fontcraft’s Dave Nalle.

Though this stage of the fundraising has ended, another has begun, and the beneficiary of this round is to be the Baton Rouge Food Bank.

Starting today, 100% of all sales of the font “Guede” will be donated to the charity. Dave Nalle:

Guede is a display initials font based on the traditional Voodoo veve symbols transformed into letters. I know it’s a bit cliche to associate Voodoo with New Orleans, but it’s part of the romance and history of the city, so it seemed like an apropriate choice. We think Mme. Laveau would approve. It’s also a great font for the upcoming Halloween season.

To purchase Guede and participate in Fontcraft’s charity effort, go to Fontcraft’s Scriptorium website and follow the appropriate links. To minimize overhead and maximize donation, they ask that fonts be digitally delivered.

Welcome To Typography

The official inaugural post on Designorati:Typography

It doesn’t take long, once someone decides to study design, to start to be distracted by type. When the critical eye is developed, one suddenly becomes aware of what type is and truly aware of what it does.

American Typewriter has a sort of rough and ready feel to it.

Garamond and Palatino seem to be timeless classics.

Comic Sans is used way. Too. Much.

Type is more than merely marks on a page. Type carries weight, intent, and attitude. Take Comic Sans, for example. How seriously will you take a caution sign printed in that? Could you sign a contract printed in it without wondering about the professionalism of the person who printed it?

Type can be over used. Helvetica, when it debuted, with its clean simple lines and honest shapes, took the world by storm. It has been used so much since then, though, that it is associated with lazy design. All the character has been leached out of it, so much so, that Robin Williams once opined that, as with other trends, “Helvetica will be back in style–in about 200 years” (in Beyond The Mac Is Not A Typewriter, Peachpit Press, 1991)

The point of all this digression is to try and give a suggestion of the rich tapestry of typography, that these glyphs are so much more than little marks upon a screen or on paper. They generate passon. People love typefaces; I adore Gill Sans. Adobe typographer Robert Slimbach, for example, developed the new Adobe Garamond Premier Pro after 12 years of work.

The aim of this topic is, as in my other topic (cartography) to be an exploration of where it came from, where it is, with an eye on where it’s going and an awareness of how design happens. I plan on lingering in places and surveying others, but typography is a lifelong love. Sometimes you don’t know it until you are shown it.

Curing Illustrator Ills: Resetting Preferences

Don’t let a corrupted preferences file in Illustrator slow you down! Here’s how to fix it and get back to work fast.

It’s happened to anyone who has used Illustrator for any length of time. You’re working along and all of a sudden something doesn’t work right. It might be that Illustrator doesn’t do what you expect when you press a modifier key, a tool won’t work, or any one of a dozen irritations. Usually a corrupted preferences file is the cause of these problems. Here’s how to fix it so you can get back to work.


Save your work and close Illustrator. Open the Finder and then go to Go > Home > Preferences. Look for a folder called Adobe Illustrator CS2 settings (or your version of Illustrator). In the folder is a file called Adobe Illustrator Prefs. Drag this file to the trash. Empty the trash and restart Illustrator. Reset any custom preferences you want, and when you close Illustrator the preferences file will be regenerated.

You can also reset Illustrator’s preferences by holding down Shift + Command + Option + Control while opening the program. If you will get a dialog asking if you want to delete the settings folder, say yes. Restart Illustrator. Reset any custom preferences you want, and when you close Illustrator the preferences file will be regenerated.

Illustrator CS 2 allows you to save custom workspaces. Note that while this procedure resets the program preferences in Illustrator CS2 to defaults, it doesn’t change the Workspace preferences, which are stored in a different file. To reset the workspace, go to Window > Workspace > Default, or choose one of your saved workspaces.


Save your work and close Illustrator. Double click on My Computer on your desktop and open C:>Documents and Settings > User >Application Data > Adobe > Adobe Illustrator CS2 Settings. (Your version of Illustrator will be in the foldr name.) Inside this folder is a file called AIPrefs. Drag this file to the trash, and restart Illustrator. Reset any custom preferences you want, and when you close Illustrator the preferences file will be regenerated.

You can also reset Illustrator’s preferences by holding down Shift + Control + Alt while launching the program. If you get a dialog asking if you want to delete the Adobe Illustrator settings folder, click yes to proceed. Restart Illustrator. Reset any custom preferences you want, and when you close Illustrator the preferences file will be regenerated.

Illustrator CS 2 allows you to save custom workspaces. Note that while this procedure resets the program preferences in Illustrator CS2 to defaults, it doesn’t change the Workspace preferences, which are stored in a different file. To reset the workspace, go to Window > Workspace > Default, or choose one of your saved workspaces.

This quick trick fixes many Illustrator problems and annoyances in just a few minutes.

Drawing the Line

Lively and well-written book tells story of how maps persuade and influence through history

Drawing The Line, by Mark Monmonier

Mark Monmonier is a distinguished professor of geography at Maxwell College of Syracuse University. He has spent years exploring maps and how they communicate, inform, and influence. Maps can be charged with many messages-hope, bias, menace, the list can be extended.

In Drawing the Line:Tales of Maps and Cartocontroversy, Monmonier takes on a variety of topics, throwing a bit of rational thought on some charged subjects.

A good example is the so-called “Peters Projection” world map. This was rolled out by Dr. Arno Peters in 1967 as a response to perceived weaknesses in the widely used Mercator map. One thing it purported to solve was a skewed view of the world brought on by the extreme distortion of the upper latitudes (Greenland appears many times larger than it ought, for instance). Another thing it aimed to correct was a “eurocentric” social bias: by enlarging the middle latitudes, it displayed many third-world countries in a more advantageous aspect than the Mercator did.

Monmonier logically and entertainingly explores the Peters imbroglio. The map, seen by many to counteract what is seen as an unjust dominance of the Third World by the First, is driven just as much by activism and personal politics of those who it appeals to just as much as any desire for flat-map accuracy. There are many dogs in this fight, detractors and advocates, and the argument continues to this day. Monmonier proves an able and illuminating guide.

The same critical light is thrown on such subjects as The Vinland Map (a map reputed to have been drawn about 1440, predating Columbus), cultural perceptions through place names on maps, the acceptance of plate tectonics, and political campaigns.

Monmonier is a great writer with an entertaining sense of style, who guides the reader through this Terra Incognita with wit and grace. Drawing the Line is a valuable book for anyone who is interested in critical thought, truth in communication, and, of course, maps.

Drawing the Line: Tales of Maps and Cartocontroversy
by Mark Monmonier
1995, Henry Holt, 368pp (with notes and index)
ISBN 0-8050-2581-2
Buy this book at

Photoshop CS2 – A Quick Look at New Features

A glance at Photoshop CS2’s new goodies

Adobe’s release of Creative Suite 2 sparkled a lot of interest, but also a lot of questions, due to its close release to it predecessor — Adobe Creative Suite. Many designers have probably asked themselves this very legitimate question: “Is this upgrade worth its money?” This article by guest writer Katherine Huck will take you through some of the new features of Photoshop CS, one of the programs part of Adobe’s Creative Suite 2.

Smart Objects

With Smart Objects you can stop worrying about losing quality in your images if you have to resize them. When a file is placed in Photoshop, it is linked to the original object so Photoshop can use the data from the original file to keep objects looking pristine.

A Smart Object Layer (enlarged version)

Even cooler than that is the fact that you can open the original object in its native application, i.e. Illustrator, by double clicking on the Smart Object icon in the layers palette, make changes to the original file, save the changes, et voila, the changes are reflected in your Photoshop document. And, if this isn’t enough, now you can duplicate the Smart Object layer so that when you edit the original layer, the duplicated layer reflects those changes.

Layers Palette

This has to be my very favorite improvement to be found in CS2. Although it’s not a huge change, linking and unlinking layers has been made even easier. Now you can shift-click layers to link them together temporarily, or you can choose to click on the link icon at the bottom of the layers palette to link them together with more permanency. Either way, unlinking has been made easier as well. If you’ve shift-clicked, just click on the layer you want to move or edit. If you’ve linked them together using the icon, you can just control-click on the link icon and all the layers linked to the one you’re on are unlinked at one time.

The only thing that I was a bit disappointed with was with the change to the way layer styles are copied. In past versions, you could easily copy layer effects from one layer to another by simply dragging. However, in CS2, you have to add in the Alt (Option) key to accomplish the same thing. Not a big thing, but a bit of a change.

Layers PaletteThe Layers palette
(enlarged version)

Adobe Bridge

The Bridge initially appears to be the File Browser on steroids…but in reality is a separate application that gives you access to all of your images. Yes, all of them. Video, illustrations, photos, PDFs. And, now the Bridge is available from all Adobe programs, not just Photoshop. Some of the improvements include better search functions, a customizable thumbnail size, new rating scheme, file colour coding, better Batch renaming, and more Metadata options.

My only beef with The Bridge is that it seems to take forever to open…much slower than the File Browser. But, this is a case of “give a little, get a lot”.

Adobe BridgeAdobe Bridge
(enlarged version)

New Filters

Smart Sharpen
You can now control highlight and shadow sharpening separately. The large preview, and additional controls let you avoid the nasties that occurred when using the Unsharp Mask.

Vanishing Point
It lets you edit, clone, and retouch images in perfect perspective. In comparison to the “old” way of using Perspective, the Vanishing Point filter is faster, more accurate, and just plain simpler.

Vanishing point(Enlarged version)

Image Warping
For anyone who’s ever wished that image warping could be as simple as text warping, well, your wish has come true in CS2. Not only can you warp an image using the predefined shapes such as arc and fisheye, but you can apply and edit a custom warp as well.

(Enlarged version)

A few other goodies

  1. Now you can adjust layer opacity and Blend Modes while you are using the Free Transform function. Finally.
  2. Try this: Window, Arrange, Tile Vertically. Pretty nice eh?
  3. The font menu now has previews of the font face. Now if Adobe will add in the ability to navigate the font menu by typing a letter the font menu will be perfect.

© Copyright 2005 Katherine Huck.

Katherine Huck is the owner of Keystone Consulting. Established in 1998, Keyston Consulting exemplifies professionalism enhanced by creativity and whimsy. Katherine’s impressive hands-on experience as a marketing agent and designer includes: visual and performance arts, education, underground technology, transportation and heavy equipment, communications, and computer solutions. Her extensive copy writing experience is reflected in weekly contributions to The Sudbury Star’s business and arts sections. Visit her website:

Welcome To Cartography

Announcing the debut of the Cartography Topic on Designorati

The Boss Cartography Logo

Hello all and welcome. I am pleased and proud to welcome any and all comers to what I think is a unique offering.

Designorati:Cartography aims to explore maps and mapmakers, past, present and future, with an eye toward design–the basic principles of color, hierarchy, scale, and symbolism, and how maps communicate.

Humans have always had the drive to understand and interpret the world that surrounds us. Maps abstract that in myriad interesting ways. They inform, propagandize, compel, decorate, and entertain. And, personally speaking, I find that just about everyone, even people who don’t have any specific interest in maps, become extremely interested when someone starts to talk about it.

This is sort of the happy and unexpected realization of a personal goal–a space where I can share what I know and what I can find for and about maps.

Welcome. This is Designorati:Cartography.

A Vista Full of Longhorns and Leopards

Microsoft will give a new Vista to its users, Apple a new processor.

With the development of Microsoft Vista, previously called Longhorn, Windows users will see many of the clues from Mac OS X. Many features are said to be similar to Apple’s operating system and will go beyond it. However, if Microsoft’s new baby will have OS X look-alike features, Mac users might be able to run Windows in its entirety through an OS X interface with Apple’s decision to use Intel processors. And don’t forget that this will mean a new operating system for Apple too: OS X Leopard. You can read more in this article: OS X Leopard to Be Compatible With Windows Applications?

The article sparkles a few questions. If OS X will run on PCs, what will happen with the hardware side of Apple? After all Apple had already stopped Dell and HP’s attempts to create Mac clones before. Apple will have to get more competitive on hardware side of its business (making a good marketing of its new Intel based computers) and will have to get more active with new software too. Maybe this will even mean that Macs will be cheaper. Will there still be a difference between Macs and PCs anyway after the initial period?

Apple will have to market its new computers with Intel processors as the way to run both OS X and Windows, in an attempt not to loose its market share hardware wise and possibly increase it. The pitfall on this is that once Apple will make Leopard compatible with PCs, people will know that they can run the operating system on PCs. The best way to handle this would be to make Apple computers cheaper so people would be compelled to purchase them instead of a PC.

This is a situation that could actually go out of hand, if Apple doesn’t play it the right way. But on the other side I can see how Apple could take all this to their advantage.

Apple shoud use the fact of moving over to Intel processors to create better computers at lower costs. Costs that are competitive with the PC market of today.

They should also create an OS that, in the eye of a Windows user, will be worthed switching to. That said, if OS X requires Windows to run Windows applications, people will have to buy two OS’ now, as PC users will want to switch to Windows Vista. And how will Apple know how to run Vista as part of OS X Leopard interface if they will be released at the same time? So Apple will have to market Leopard so that people instead of switching to Vista, will want to switch to Leopard. “Get all the functionalities of Windows, plus the unique features of OS X” should be the message. OS X will have to have unique features that Vista doesn’t have, of course, and maybe they should stress the fact that Macs are very secure (while making darn sure that the security features of OS X Leopard are improved, because if they start being compatible with PCs, Apple’s new OS will start to have a hard time).

Apple should take advantage of programs upgrades. Let’s say Adobe decides to come up with a CS 3 after the merger with Macromedia, for example. A very smart move would be to code Leopard so that there isn’t a need of developing two versions of the same program for the software developers, i.e. one for VISTA and one for Leopard. The reason is that OS X is cheaper than Windows at the moment. If programs can run both on OS X without the aid of Windows, people will slowly leave Windows alone–providing Windows users are given a good reason to switch to OS X, i.e., high end computers and cheaper and better OS–and because the incompatibility issues will be resolved, it won’t matter if someone comes up with a Windows file, OS X will be able to handle it.

Vista should also retain compatibility with previous versions of Windows. If Vista is not compatible with its predecessors, it will also mean that Mr Smith could start using his Photoshop 7 Windows version on Leopard, while he might not be able to do that with Vista. “Ops, there is a saving”, says Mr Smith, “I have got a better computer, I bought a new OS for less money and I don’t have to upgrade all of my applications at once.”

While doing all this, Apple better not forget about its existing Mac users and make sure that compatibility with previous versions of the OS and third party applications is retained. It wouldn’t make sense to make all that effort to be compatible with Windows, thus jumping in a void for customers that Apple doesn’t yet have, and neglect the existing Mac users. If Apple doesn’t think with this, not only will they risk not to gain new users, but they will risk to loose what they have already.

Of course Apple might just decide to leave alone this whole Windows compatibility matter, as it can become a double edged sword, and just strive to make better Macs, while using the iPod as one of the methods to introduce people to the world of Macs.

In-Source, an Online Home for In-House Creatives

Insource :: An Association of Corporate Creatives, is a great online resource for all of us in-house designers working with a longing eye toward what seems to be the promise land of agency or freelance design.

With largest segment responding to the AIGA/Aquent Survey of Design Salaries 2005 being in-house designers, it seems that what we do is becoming more and more of a recognized role for creatives. Companies are seeing the need to keep their talent within arms reach, which benefits us greatly.

According to the survey, in-house designers at all levels are making about the same, and in some cases more, as their out-of-house siblings. We also benefit from “little” things like relatively consistent schedules, dependable insurance plans, and savings and profit-sharing plans.

With all the information online for creatives of all types, the least represented is the in-house designer, so having a group like In-Source devoted to making our corporate lives better really makes a HUGE difference.

A 360-Degree View of the Creative World