Blue Pencil no. 3—Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide
This installment of Blue Pencil is different from previous ones in that the “errors” being exposed are, for the most part, not factual, orthographical or typographical, but editorial. Editorial errors are harder to nail down and hence more insidious. They are also more subjective so this post will include a number of references, both print and online, in support of my comments as well as some relevant images.
One of the basic problems of Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide is that the main text is vague. It is full of generalities and theorizing but short on specifics, especially dates. Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish seem to have an aversion to them. They are included in the captions to the images and, naturally, in the chapter timelines but not in the chapter “Tools of the Trade” lists. The latter is a wonderful idea that is severely undercut not only by the lack of dates but by a lack of any additional information on the items listed: no names of inventors, no descriptions of what each of the tools is or does, no explanations of the significance of the tool on the development of graphic design. The tools do not appear in the book’s glossary nor are they included in its index.
While the main text of Graphic Design History: A Critical Guidee tends toward vague generalizing, the lengthy texts that accompany each image are richer in information, usually going beyond a mere discussion of the image in question. Unfortunately, sometimes these discussions seem to ignore the image entirely. Most of my comments on the book are directed at these image texts. I have only included a few quotations from the main text to show some of the dangers of gliding over dates and other specifics.
The authors are also the designers of the book and thus I have also taken the liberty of pointing out design “errors”, mainly instances where an image is far too small to be of any use to a reader.
This lengthy critique of Graphic Design: A Critical History is not intended as a slam of the entire book. Blue Pencil is not a book review but a blog focused on the aspects of a book that need to be corrected or revised. The Drucker/McVarish book is full of wonderful images, many of them fresh and thought-provoking, and has numerous excellent insights. But a critical history should be looked at critically.
Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide
Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009 [but published in 2008]
Editor in Chief: Sarah Touborg
Editorial Assistant: Christina DeCesare
Senior Managing Editor: Mary Rottino
“Graphic design is never just there. /Graphic artifacts always serve a purpose and contain an agenda, / no matter how neutral or natural they appear to be. / Someone is addressing someone else, for some reason, / through every object of designed communication. The graphic forms of design / are expressions of the forces that shape our lives. / We need a critical history of graphic design.” pp. xxiii–xx
fig. 2.1 Dipylon vase, 730–720 BCE.
“This early Greek inscription almost seems to have been scratched into the neck of the vase as an afterthought.”
[The image only shows lettering and no vase so there is no way for the reader to judge this statement. Or to understand why the lettering is curved.]
fig. 2.3 Decree on a marble stele describing procedures for tribute, 426 BCE.
[the text does not explain why the lettering is arranged in stoichedon format.]
p. 31 “mono-line” is normally written “monoline”
fig. 2.7 Inscription from the Temple of Minerva at Prienne, third century BCE.
“This aesthetically sophisticated script features serifs and is carved in elegant proportion and perfect alignment.”
[The letters appear to be sans serif rather than seriffed—but the image is too small to tell one way or the other.]
fig. 2.11 Rustic letters, 194 CE.
[The image is too small to clearly see the characteristics of the Rustic style.]
“The decision to use one form of lettering to show respect [the Imperial Roman capitals for IMP CAESAR] and another [Rustic for the text] to compress the substance of the tribute indicates that these choices carry meaning.”
[This ignores the inherent advantages of the narrow Rustic in fitting a given text to a specific space. The style was probably chosen not for any inherent meaning but for a practical reason.]
fig. 2.14 Cursive script, early CE and fig. 2.15 Roman cursive, 166 CE.
“By contrast, this cursive [2.15] indicates far more gestural efficiency.”
[What is meant here by “efficiency”? Surely not speed. The former [2.14] is actually more gestural and quick as evidenced by the presence of elongated strokes (what the author calls “swash tails”) and the prevalence of extended proportions.]
fig. 2.19 Filocalus, fourth century CE.
[The image is too small to properly see the distinctive details of the Filocalian letters. (There are better examples of the style at S. Sebastiano and S. Agnese fuori le mura on the outskirts of Rome.) The discussion fails to point out that the Filocalian inscriptions differ from the ordinary early Christian inscriptions because they were done to honor Christian martyrs after Christianity became the state religion of Rome. Thus, they are usually called Damasian letters after Pope Damasus who commissioned the inscriptions. Finally, it is very likely that Filocalus, who was a slave from Phoenicia, was black.]
“These lists [the timelines] situate graphic events in relation to other cultural and political markers.”
pp. 42–43 The timeline for Chapter 2: Classical Literacy leaves out the Prienne inscription on the Temple of Minerva, the Trajan Column, and the inscriptions of Filocalus. It also does not include when the Greek alphabet emerged or when it shifted from being written from right to left to boustrephedon style and eventually to left to right.
The list of Tools of the Trade for Chapter 2 does not include the broad brush, used to lay out inscriptions in Rome, but has double blade ruling pens.
fig. 3.1a Jean Mielot, monk working, 1456.
“We also get a sense of the design of these books. The double-columned text of the open codex on the far right indicates a religious work, whereas the smaller volume open on the lectern to the left, with its single text block, would seem to be a secular text.”
[This is not necessarily so for the lectern codex. Books of Hours which were popular at the time this image was made tended to be written in a single column format.]
fig. 3.2 Contrast of Medieval book hands.
“This comparison of major letterforms in the Middle Ages, taken from William Mason’s A History of Writing, implies an ‘evolution‘ of the minuscule.”
[Mason’s book was written in 1920 and does not reflect current paleographical thinking. It seems unfair to be chastising him.]
“Constructed letterforms, such as the capitals of line I, were often based on ideal proportions. Sometimes they were drawn with a compass or straightedge, and generally, they followed an intellectual scheme as to the shape a letter should take.”
[Line I shows Imperial Roman capitals such as those on the Trajan Column. In fig. 2.16a, showing the inscription on the Trajan Column, the caption reads: “These letters were not constructed by use of a compass or ruler…. These majuscules were based on designs first made with a flat brush.”]
[In the image there are nine lines of writing but not all are labeled. The text only refers to lines I, III, IV, V and VI. What are the other lines?]
fig. 3.6c Book structure, late twelfth century.
“Marginalia and text glosses were often added in interlinear spaces….”
[The image shows a manuscript in which the gloss is not made in this manner but is placed in a flexible column to the right of the text.]
[This discussion leaves out the graphic formatting innovations of Parisian glossed Bibles which were developed at the end of the 13th century. These Bibles, which were produced in secular scriptoria, used a mutable three-column grid format to keep the relevant portion of a gloss always in close proximity to the text it was commenting upon. The sophistication of these layouts was not matched in print until the 1990s.
p. 46 “When scholarly study joined prayer and contemplation as a use for codex volumes, books acquired page numbers, chapter headers, and other navigational devices.”
p. 53 “Page numbers did not appear until the printing industry created groupings of sheets that had to be assembled in proper order by binders.”
[Which is correct for the introduction of page numbers (folios)?]
fig. 3.7a Rustic capitals, Virgil, sixth century.
“The text of this sixth century manuscript of the Latin poet Virgil is rendered in square capitals whose slightly curved strokes have a rustic flavor.”
[If the letters in the manuscript are square capitals then why is the image titled “Rustic capitals”? The text fails to discuss the artificiality of square capitals as well as the fact that they were an attempt to copy, with a pen, the brush-made, inscriptional Imperial Roman capitals. There are only a handful of surviving manuscripts written in square capitals. David Wright, the expert on the Virgil manuscript shown here, believes they were written for collectors and that the style of writing was not widespread.]
fig. 3.7b Book of Kells, ca. 800.
[The image is too small for the reader to be able to see the differences between “half-uncials” and uncials.]
“These so-called ‘half-uncials’ are copied from the script used in the famous Book of Kells….”
[But this image IS a page from the Book of Kells!]
fig. 3.7c A royal privilege granted by Clovis III to the Abbey of Saint Denis in Merovingian charter script, 691.
“These distinctive looping letters with their long ascenders and descenders are typical of French scripts of the Merovingian style. The extra complexity in this script is deliberate….”
[The image is too small for these details to be verified or to be properly appreciated.]
fig. 3.7d Uncials, Speculum, seventh century.
“The uncial letters in this late seventh century rendering of a passage from the Speculum of founding theologian St. Augustine are the most common letterforms of early Medieval manuscripts.”
[This description ignores the fact that the uncials pictured—which are not well executed—are artificial uncials (a term coined by E.A. Lowe) which differ from the Roman uncials that emerged in the 4th c. The former are written at a flatter pen angle and involve much pen manipulation to achieve serifs, hairlines and the distinctive loop of the A. The latter are written at a steeper pen angle and plain.]
“Although derived from square Roman capitals, these curved strokes [in the E, M and A] are characteristic of pen and brush forms.”
[Uncials are not derived from square Roman capitals since they predate them.]
“By the eighth century, the use of uncials was on the wane, in part, because of the amount of space they required.”
[This argument makes little sense given that the late 8th c. saw the development of the Carolingian minuscule, a script that was proportionally just as wide and, moreover, required four writing lines instead of two. Furthermore, uncials survived as the majuscules that accompanied the Carolingian minuscule.]
fig. 3.7e Carolingian minuscule, tenth and eleventh centuries.
[Why two centuries as the dating for a single example of Carolingian minuscule? If the dates are for the period in which the script was ascendant then the timeframe should begin with the late 8th century.]
[The image is a snippet of a Carolingian manuscript rather than a full page which means that an opportunity to discuss the effect of Alcuin of York’s reforms on page layout has been missed. Alcuin introduced the concept of a hierarchy of scripts—Square capitals, Rustic, Uncial and Carolingian minuscule, in that order—which radically changed the appearance of a page from the approach that characterized insular manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and Book of Kells. These scripts—which were the manuscript equivalent of using four typefaces—acted as navigational aids.]
[The sample of Carolingian minuscule is far too small to properly compare to fig. 3.7g, the later English caroline letter. It also should have been taken from a late 8th c. or 9th c. manuscript when the style was at its peak.]
fig. 3.7f Textura, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
[This group of images has captions that are inconsistent in titling. Some refer to the specific source of the script depicted while others refer to the script generically. This subtle distinction is not immediately evident and thus the dates provided seem wildly uneven in duration. Eg. a range of time for Carolingian minuscules and textura, but a narrow dating for uncials.]
[The image is too small and the manuscript chosen is not the best possible example of a textura. In fact, close examination suggests it is closer to what Michelle Brown describes as littera glossularis or Gothic glossing script, “a smaller, modified version of the lower grade Gothic book scripts.” See A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600, p. 90.]
“They required considerable care in their production and were reserved for religious texts and other works deemed worthy of such effort.”
[Textura was the common bookhand—as opposed to document hand—of the 14th and 15th centuries in northern Europe (a point that is not made in this discussion). It was not reserved for religious works as can be seen in Christopher de Hamel’s A History of Illuminated Manuscripts in the chapter on books for aristocrats. Yes, these would have been “works deemed worthy of such effort”, but what were the works that weren’t in an age before widespread literacy?]
fig. 3.7g Ramsey Psalter, 974–986.
“Note the use of rustic majuscules in a subhead halfway down the page, the square capital letter A, and the use of uncials as decorated initials hanging in the margin.”
[The large decorative A is derived from Roman Imperial capitals but is not a square capital. It has a cross-stroke at its apex and its crossbar is missing, having been totally obscured by the leafy decoration. The uncials in the margin are in gold leaf but not otherwise decorated. They are not initials but the capitals that accompany the Carolingian minuscule.]
[The text does not mention that the script of the Ramsey Psalter provided the basis for Edward Johnston’s Foundational Hand which had a profound impact on the revival of calligraphy in the 20th c.]
fig. 3.7h Lettera Imperiale, Tagliente, Venice, 1523.
[Giovantonio Tagliente’s full name should be provided. The name of the script, lettera imperiale (why italicize it but not the names of other scripts such as uncial or textura?), should be explained. But the bigger question is why this is the script chosen from Tagliente who is best known for his cancellaresca corsiva, a script which had a greater impact on the development of graphic design. It should also be pointed out that this is a printed example of a script not a written one.]
fig. 3.7i Gothic Rotunda, fourteenth century.
[The image is too small to see the details of the script.]
“Rotunda scripts were associated with humanistic study and used for classical as well as vernacular texts.”
[This indicates a serious confusion between rotunda and humanist bookhand or antiqua. The former was used exclusively for religious texts while the latter was intended for classical ones.]
“The amount of variation in size, shape, pressure, and rhythm in this writing makes it unlikely that one person could have written it, even at different sittings.”
[This conclusion is not warranted. Although the details described here are impossible to verify in the small reproduction—and the manuscript is not identified so that the reader is not privy to information about its page count or how long it took to be completed—it is possible and more than likely probable that the writing is the work of a single scribe. I have seen a late 15th c. Italian manuscript written in textura (by a northern European scribe working in Milano) of over 400 double-column pages, thirty to thirty five lines per page, that the scribe claimed in the colophon to have completed in nine months. That works out to about 3300 lines per month or roughly 110 lines per day—not a difficult feat even today for a calligrapher.]
“One style of humanistic rotunda is directly associated with the poet Petrarch, and thus with the coming of secular and vernacular literature. The rounded shapes later served as the basis for typefaces associated with the same humanistic tradition…. These works [classical texts] tended to be composed in long lines, whereas Bibles and other religious texts, were customarily split into two columns.”
[The image, which is written in two columns, is a religious work. Why then discuss Petrarch and humanist texts?]
[This is one very confusing text. Albert Derolez in The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century (2003) in footnote 40 decries “the incongruous use of the term Humanistic script” to describe Gothic scripts, preferring instead the term Rotunda (with no adjective). “Italian Rotunda became famous through its use in luxury choir-books of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries…. the script did not attain its full maturity before the fourteenth century. In the course of that century and especially of the fifteenth, the growing popularity of scripts of the cursive family caused Rotunda to be used more and more exclusively for Bibles, liturgical books, statutes, etc.” p. 111. Derolez and other paleographers distinguish Rotunda from Textura as a southern European bookhand found principally in Italy and Spain. It is not used to describe scripts associated with the Humanists.]
fig. 3.7j Gothic script, late thirteenth century.
“The gothic book hand on this late thirteenth century page is more open and legible than many earlier textura faces whose pointed shapes echoed architectural forms of the era.”
[The image shows a script that is more textura than the one in fig. 3.7f, though it is not an example of textura at its zenith. There is some confusion between the information in the caption to fig. 3.7f and this caption: is textura from the 12th and early 13th centuries as is implied here or from the 14th and 15th centuries as stated in the earlier caption? Perhaps the two images have been transposed.]
“The characteristic ‘breaking’ of curves into angular forms required two or more combined strokes. In the early thirteenth century, gothic scripts had been more condensed (vertical) and made extensive use of ligatures or joined letters that were more efficient to write.”
[The implication that textura—as this sample of writing should properly be called—is more time consuming or difficult to write because curves are broken into multiple strokes betrays a lack of calligraphic experience. The repetitive nature of the forms of textura, as well as its condensed proportions, make it much easier to write than is commonly believed. There are plenty of ligatures present in this image—do (2x), de (4x), po (2x), ho, ve, Ho, og, oq, pc—as opposed to two in the (admittedly briefer) image in fig. 3.7f. Ligatures reduce the number of strokes necessary to form letters and thus are more efficient to write, but the implication that that is their reason for being is wrong. Ligatures are used to reduce space—a key visual aspect of blackletter—or to save space and aid in justifying lines. In this case, many of the ligatures appear to have been made to reduce space. Other letter combinations are closely butted to one another (eg. ce or rr) or have minims (feet) that touch.]
“In the fourteenth century the ‘hands’ and ‘feet’ of the letters, as well as the ascenders and descenders became shorter, [and] more robust.… German and English blackletter types preserved these forms in the era of printing.”
[The “hands” and “feet” of the letters need to be explained. I am uncertain what is meant by the former, though the latter is a common term for the more scholarly minim which refers to the diamond-like short strokes that terminate verticals in textura. Textura influenced textura types throughout all of northern Europe, not just blackletter types in Germany and England. In fact, the earliest example of “Old English” is a type used by Wolfgang Hopyl (Paris, 1504) which, according to Hendrik D.L. Vervlet, “was very common in early sixteenth-century Paris typography”. He calls it a Parisian Gothic which is better than Old English since there the letters have clear roots in the texturas of 15th c. French manuscripts.]
fig. 3.7k Bastarda, fifteenth century.
“The term bastarda means ‘lowborn’ and was used to signal the script’s association with scholars, rather than clerics. Used for legal documents and correspondence. these letterforms are closer at their source to Roman cursive hands than to capitals.”
[The bastarda scripts that were used for legal documents and correspondence are different from the 15th c. bastarda or bâtarde pictured in the image. Michelle Brown writes of bâtarde that its varied nomenclature “has entailed some confusion with other scripts. It represents the highest grade of cursive script, with the greatest influence from textualis [textura]….”
There are many bastard scripts (eg. Bastard Anglicana). The name indicates a mixture of influences from other scripts due to a need for speed in writing rather than any association with scholars. Stan Knight, author of Historical Scripts from Classical Times to the Renaissance (2nd, rev. ed., 1998) describes bâtarde thusly: “Alongside the formal Gothic hands, there existed in the 14th and 15th centuries numerous cursive scripts used for legal, commercial and other documents. Bâtarde is a bookhand which evolved, initially in northern France, as a formalized version of one of these Gothic cursives.” p. 71. The unidentified and undated manuscript in the image is clearly not a scholarly text given the elaborate (and expensive) decorative initial and border. Bâtarde was especially popular for northern French, Burgundian and Flemish Books of Hours, but it is unclear if this is such a book.]
p. 57 “superceding” should be “superseding”.
fig. 3.8a Versals, England, ca. 1400.
“The term versals refers to letters that are based on uncial forms but made up of many intricately interwoven strokes.”
[This definition is far too limited. Here is Stan Knight’s definition: “Term originally used of capital letters which signify the first letters of verses or paragraphs. Now, refers to manuscript capitals built up with multiple strokes of the pen.” Versals have both roman capital and uncial forms as their inspiration. While they are often decorated, they need not be as is evident in the beautiful ones in the 12th c. Winchester Bible (Winchester, Cathedral Library). The letters in fig. 3.8a are versals but their decoration is not essential to their identity.]
fig. 3.8b Lindisfarne Gospels, ca. 700.
[The commonly accepted date of the manuscript has long been 698. But, Michelle P. Brown, the foremost expert on the Lindisfarne Gospels, now believes that the planning and production took place between c.715 and 720. See The Lindisfarne Gospels (2003), p. 10.]
“It would seem that this was not a page to be read, since legibility has been sacrificed to ornamentation.”
[The decorative pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels are more dfficult to read than the ordinary text pages, but that does not mean they were not intended to be read. It should be remembered that the amount of text on those pages is very short and would have been familiar to all Christians. For instance, the page illustrated simply says, “In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud deum et deus….” It is the opening of the book of John which we all know in English as, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God….”]
“Note the A with the forked crossbar. It reveals a Byzantine influence….”
[The caption should have gone beyond this useful comment—derived from Stanley Morison—and transliterated the entire text, pointing out along the way how the scribe/illuminator treated letters plastically as elements of a design as opposed to constituent parts of words. This is a major shift from earlier manuscripts and is of importance to graphic designers. Look at the treatment of the N in IN, the nesting of I inside C in PRINCIPIO, the diamond-shaped O (with serifs!) in PRINCIPIO, the change of form of A in the first ERAT so that it tucks into the space between the R and T, the stacking of AT in the second ERAT so that the text is justified, the tail dangling from P which makes it difficult for modern eyes to decipher but which serves the important role of filling space, the ampersands clearly made from E and T, the S in D[EU]S which looks like a backward Z but which has simply been angularized to provide a counterpoint to the preceding D which is uncialesque, the presence of two forms of A, the use of U for V as a continuance of the Roman tradition, the presence of two forms of D (side by side in APUD D[EU]M), and so on. Here we see the roots of versals as letters that take equally from Roman capitals and from uncials. This page is a treasure trove of design ideas.]
fig. 3.8c Manuscript from the scriptorium of the monastery at Corbie, end of eighth century.
“These compass-drawn Merovingian letters….”
[There is no evidence of the use of a compass in the image. The decorative letters are clearly drawn freely. Note the variations in form of letters such as A and S that are repeated.]
‘Merovingian scribes seem to have been particularly aware of the properties of the page as a surface and of design as a flat pattern. They recognized and took advantage of the two-dimensional character of the vellum sheet in their outlining and decorative work and often took liberties with the basic structure of letters.”
[This view of the attitude of Merovingian scribes can equally apply to the Irish and English scribes who did the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Book of Durrow, the Gospels of Saint Willibrord, the Durham Gospel, the Gospels of Saint Chad, et al. See Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Painting by Carl Nordenfalk (1977) and my comments above about the Lindisfarne Gospels.]
“The Medieval concept of horror vacui (‘fear of the void’) was a design principle that carried theological connotations regarding the physical laws of the universe. In relation to page decoration, horror vacui describes the impulse to cover an entire surface, to fill graphic space.”
[The image, which is unfortunately cropped, is not an example of horror vacui.]
p. 61 “Manuscript images were always hand drawn, and irregularities caused by artists of varying skill were an impediment to scientific knowledge that only the standardization brought by print technology in the fifteenth century could overcome.”
[This ignores the fact that prints were cut or engraved by hand following some form of sketch or drawing, also done by hand, and that there was often both an artist and a craftsman involved. Print did not necessarily put an end to irregularities caused by handwork or by artists of lesser ability.]
p. 66 Timeline “900s. V and U become distinct letters.”
“1400s. “J and I become distinct letters.”
[The introduction of W should also be noted. Information on punctuation changes such as the introduction of the Tironian et would also have been useful additions to the timeline.]
[The timeline does not include the monastery at Tours, the Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels or Alcuin of York. To expect the reader to go back and forth between these and other items in the text and the timeline in order to place things in chronological context seems unreasonable. The critical material in the text should also be in the timeline. That is how the timelines in Meggs’ History of Graphic Design (4th ed., 2006) and Blackletter: Type and National Identity (1998) are designed.]
p. 69 “The modularity of print technology exemplified modern production methods, bringing segmentation and specialization to processes that had been organically integrated in traditional crafts.”
[But manuscript production in Europe in the Middle Ages was already characterized by segmentation and specialization with editors, parchmenters, scribes, rubricators, illuminators, painters, and binders. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work by Jonathan J.G. Alexander (1992), shows a page from Msc. Patr. 5, folio 1v (Bamberg Staatsbibliothek) (early 12th c. from St. Michael’s in Bamberg) which demonstrates the processes of making a manuscript: cutting a quill, writing the text, scraping and dehairing the vellum, cutting the sheets, sewing the sheets, preparing the boards, illuminating the manuscript—though they are not displayed in that order. Donald Jackson deciphers the Bamberg images thusly: 1. making notes with a stylus on a wax-coated diptych; 2. scraping sheepskin; 3. cutting out the sheet; 4. sharpening a pen; 5. scraping out a mistake; 6. sewing the gatherings; 7. shaping up the wooden boards for the cover; and 8. fixing clasps or bindings. A 13th c. ms. shows a parchmenter, a scribe ruling out sheets, an illuminator, and the trimming of sheets of vellum. The Story of Writing by Donald Jackson (1981). These tasks were all performed by monks but they were still specialized. Alexander says there was a proto-apprenticeship system within the monasteries. Later in the Middle Ages it became less common for lay illuminators to double as scribes. Professional illuminators, replacing monks, emerged in the 11th and, especially, 12th centuries. In Paris in the 13th c. the pecia system of copying texts in sections based on exemplaria evolved. Printing built upon this existing division of labor. The papermaker replaced the parchmenter, the woodcut artist replaced the illuminator, and the compositor replaced the scribe. The printer and his assistants (for instance, the inker) were a new part of the chain.
fig. 4.1 Gutenberg Bible, 1455
“The famous 42-line Bible of 1455 is considered the first book printed with moveable type.”
[Gutenberg printed editions of Ars Minor by Aelius Donatus. “It is highly likely that some of the editions are earlier than the Gutenberg Bible, for it would have made sense to print a small schoolbook while preparing for a gigantic publication like the Bible. It would have brought in much needed ready cash.” www.bl.uk/treasures/gutenberg/donatus.html. Also: “Metal movable type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty (around 1230). This led to the printing of the Jikji in 1377 – today the world’s oldest extant movable metal print book.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movable_type and www.jikjiworld.net/content/english/jikji/main.jsp. The text fails to note that the colored initial, chapter heading and red slashes on the capitals were all added by hand later—thus not all copies of the Gutenberg Bible are identical.]
p. 71 “From the 1450s until about 1500, type designs were adapted directly from existing manuscript hands.”
[This is not true for Nicolaus Jenson’s pioneering roman face which does not look like any humanist bookhand or antiqua script that I have seen reproduced. Books and articles that have compared manuscript hands to Jenson’s type have never achieved a close correspondence, certainly no closer than the failed attempts to link Bartolomeo Sanvito’s writing to Griffo’s italic type. See the unconvincing illustrations in “On Type: Whence Jenson? A Search for the Origins of Roman Type” by Juliet Spohn Twomey in Fine Print vol. 15, no. 3 (July 1989). Gerrit Noorzij has even suggested that Jenson’s roman type was influenced by textura!]
fig. 4.6 Herodotus, Historia, Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, Venice, 1494.
“The type is a Venetian rotunda….”
[As with the images of manuscript hands, this use of the term rotunda to describe what is clearly a roman typeface is misleading.]
“…and the initial H is clearly meant to be added.”
[It should be pointed out why this is obvious: 1. H is the first letter of ERODOTI and 2. a small h has been printed in the space as a guide to the illuminator or rubricator.]
fig, 4.7 Stradanus, Nova Reperta, printing press, 1580s.
“…women were frequently involved in tasks associated with printing….”
[What were these tasks? who were some of the women? Prior to the 19th c. most women in printing entered the trade when, as widows, they continued the business of their printer husbands. See for example, Early American Women Printers And Publishers, 1639-1820 by Leona M. Hudak (1978). It is unclear if these women were engaged in the actual tasks—composing type, inking, printing, collating sheets, bookbinding—associated with printing.]
fig. 4.9 Type developed by Gutenberg, 1450s.
“Some scholars interpret the variants of letters as an attempt to preserve elements of handwriting. The imprecision of early casting technology might explain some of the variation, although accents and other alternative forms were clearly deliberate designs, not accidental effects.”
[[The image is far too small to see the variant letters discussed in the text. What about the theory that the alternates were deliberate designs intended not to maintain the look of handwriting per se but to enable justification. Gutenberg copied other tricks of the trade the scribes used for this purpose—ligatures andabbreviated characters—so why not condensed characters as well?]
fig. 4.10 Type mold showing technology first used in the fifteenth century.
[The book this image comes from should be identified. This is especially important since there are no known images of a type mold (usually spelled mould) prior to Mechanick Exercises by Joseph Moxon (1683)]
“Most [punchcutters] worked with their naked eye and tested their work by blacking the end of the punch with a candle, then pressing the carbon onto a surface to see where fine adjustments were needed.”
[The text should mention that these tests were called smoke proofs. The text makes no mention of the alternative method of punchcutting that begins with the use of a counterpunch.]
p. 77 “Meanwhile, in Germany, the tradition of blackletter types split into main traditions: the rounder Schwabacher and the more pointed, often decorative Fraktur.”
[This ignores the continuation of textura in Germany through the middle of the 20th c. It outlasted Schwabacher which diminished in use after the 16th c. David C. Greetham even contends that Fraktur displaced Schwabacher. See Textual Scholarship (1994), p. 234.]
fig. 4.11a Conrad Swenheym and Arnold Pannartz, Subiaco, 1465.
[The image is too small to see the forms of the letters.]
“Scribes there [Italy] were known for their humanist rotunda hand, which the printers imitated in the types they designed.” [This is another instance where the attempt to create humanist and gothic rotundas as two distinct manuscript hands muddles things. The type of Sweynheym and Pannartz is traditionally described as a gotico-antiqua, meaning that it has elements of a gothic script such as rotunda and of an antiqua or humanist bookhand. The capitals are clearly modelled on the latter, but the lowercase is a mixture. The letters are compressed which has caused some strokes to be broken, but some of the structure of the letters suggests antiqua influence. The German background of Sweynheym and Pannartz surely played a role in the retention of gothic features in their type.]
“Considered the first ‘roman’ faces, these typefaces were named for a proximity to the Italian city rather than for any relation to earlier classical letters.”
[The first book printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz was a Cicero—not mentioned in the caption—and S.H. Steinberg says that it was quite natural that it was printed in a type approximating “round hand” [by which he means littera antiqua] but nowhere does he, A.F. Johnson, or D.B. Updike discuss the origins of the name “roman” for type. The theory expressed above seems unlikely. James Mosley, former librarian at St. Bride’s Printing Library, is unable to verify this theory. “Any direct connection of “roman” type with Sweynheym & Pannartz seems pretty unlikely,” he writes. “It looks as if it originates as a French term, dating from the 1520s when there was a passion in France for things Italian (Leonardo invited to Fontainebleau, François I getting taken prisoner at Pavia), so the adoption of Italian types, for French as well as Latin, was part of the package. As for the immediate origin of the term ‘roman’ type in English, I imagine it comes from French as so many English printing terms do, like font or fount and compositor. In an inventory of 1547, there is: ‘La fonte du Romain avec les grosses capitales.’” Mosley also points out that roman type in Germany is called antiqua and in modern Italy tondo. “In early [Italian] inventories you tend to get ‘lettera antiqua’ for roman and ‘lettera moderna’ for gothic,” he says. The fact that the earliest roman types were used to print the works of Roman authors may be what influenced the French to call such types “roman”—but this is merely speculation.]
4.11b Nicolas Jenson, Aulus Gellius, Noctium Atticarum, 1472.
“The typefaces of Nicolas Jenson are open, legible and elegant.”
[The image is too small to see the details of the letters and to assess this statement. It is also too small to allow one to compare Jenson’s letters to those in the equally small Sweynheym and Pannartz image. This statement is too general since a majority of Jenson’s books were printed in a rotunda, a style of type that is open but not elegant.]
“…derived from humanist minuscules…”
[This is the first mention of humanist minuscules (humanist bookhand, littera antiqua) in Graphic Design: A Critical History, but the only image of such a script in the book is fig. 3.9b which is not labeled as such and which is not of the quality of the scripts—such as those by Antonio Sinibaldi or Gherardo di Giovanni del Ciriago—that presumably inspired Jenson.]
fig. 4.11c Aldus Manutius, Hypernotomachia [sic] Poliphili, 1499.
[“Hypernotomachia” should be “Hypnerotomachia”.]
“…it is praised for the harmony of its illustrations and type.”
[This should be explained: i.e. the open initials with thin vinework match the open woodcuts and the light type of Griffo. But this is not the first printed book to have all of these elements in harmonize. Some of Erhard Ratdolt’s books from the 1480s show an equal, if darker, harmony of type, initial letters and borders.]
“Aldus was a smart businessman whose invention of the octavo volume helped establish a market for pocket books.”
[The earlier work of the Paduan scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito in creating small format manuscripts should be mentioned since there is some thought that Aldus got the idea from him. (George Fletcher, one of the leading Aldine scholars, says that Aldus’ octavos should not be described as pocket books since there were no pockets in his time. The better term is portable books.) The discussion of Aldine octavos is a bit odd in a text ostensibly devoted to the Hypnerotomachia Poliphilii which is a folio.]
fig. 4.11d William Caxton, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, 1474.
“His types were robust interpretations of an English bastarda hand with tapered descenders and energetic shapes.”
[The image is too small to see the details of the type. But Caxton partnered with Colard Manson in Bruges and based his type on Flemish bâtarde rather than on any English version. A.F. Johnson, author of Type Designs (1966 ed.), says that Caxton’s bastarda imitated Manson’s but was inferior.]
“This distinctive typeface served as the graphic equivalent of a vernacular tongue, distinguishing English from other languages by its appearance.”
[This is not true since printers in both Flanders and Burgundica used typefaces derived from bâtardes for vernacular texts. For example, see Colard Manson’s Ovid of 1484. Bâtarde, fraktur and civilité all distinguished vernacular tongues from Latin more than from each other .]
fig. 4.11e Schwabacher, 1490s.
“Germany was the only European country to retain blackletter types beyond the Renaissance.”
[This is a common misconception. See Blackletter: Type and National Identity, both the monograph and catalogue, which trace the continuation of blackletter beyond the Renaissance throughout Europe. Blackletter—which included rotunda and textura and bastarda and civilité as well as the fraktur and schwabacher mentioned in this text—was the dominant type in German-speaking areas (not just Germany) which included Switzerland, Austria and parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. It continued as a minor but common type in France, England, Holland and Italy after 1600.]
fig. 4.11f Erhard Ratdolt, Euclid, 1482.
[The type used by Ratdolt for this book that “expresses the combination of aesthetic and rational values that linked Renaissance thinkers with classical thought” is set in rotunda type (even though the initial P is a white-vine design associated with humanist manuscripts).]
p. 80 “No equivalent to the compression of letters in handwriting existed in print.”
[This is not entirely true. Gutenberg appears to have had condensed variants of letters and the medieval practice of abbreviating words using various overscores and other marks was continued in type design into the 16th century, though the number of abbreviations rapidly dropped in roman types. Also, the italic types of Francesco Griffo were created to save space
fig. 4.12b The Nuremberg Chronicle, layout, 1493.
“…The Nuremberg Chronicle, a history of the world from creation until the date of this publication in 1493. Written by German Hartmann Schedel….”
[Schedel’s chronicle was in the spirit of Eusebius’ chronicle of the world (c.325 AD) (known in the Latin translation made by St. Jerome) which was copied out many times in the 15th c. and printed by Nicolaus Jenson in 1470.]
fig. 4.12c The Nuremberg Chronicle, printed version, 1493.
“Although rough layouts were made in advance, clearly final decisions about typesetting, image placement, and other details were determined only at the time of composition.”
[Some of the changes between the layout and the printed work should be noted: 1. the change from a bastarda script to a rotunda type. (Although rotunda scripts are associated with southern Europe, rotunda types were used by printers in southern Germany in the late 15th c. and early 16th c.); 2. the use of textura—not bâtarde or rotunda—as the lettering in the candelabra image; 3. the addition of elements going beyond the refinement of details to the illustrations (eg. the checkerboard floor in the candelabra illustration); and 4. the change in the layout of the verso page with the text block below, instead of above, the illustration—it seems to have shifted from the recto in the layout to the verso in the printed version—and in the recto page with an additional text block below the figure with upraised hands. Also, the text must have slightly changed as the initial A in two paragraphs in the layout have become the initial H. The border lines of the sketches were retained in the printed version suggesting that the manuscript practice of horror vacui was still at work. In the woodcuts the border lines also enabled more uniform inking and distribution of pressure in printing.]
p. 82 “The first medium for making multiple copies of images was the woodcut.”
[This statement ignores the cylinder seals of ancient Mesopotamia, Sumeria and Akkadia which enabled multiple images to be stamped into clay or printed on cloth.]
fig. 4.18 Nicholas Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, 1543.
[The image is too tiny.]
fig. 4.20b Michelangelo, monument, 1538.
[The name of the monument—a statue of Marcus Aurelius—should be part of the heading.]
“More uniform than their classical antecedents, these Renaissance letters take their Roman models’ softening of constructed curves and strokes one step further, reflecting a recognition that too mechanistic a rendering would result in a sterile design. These highly legible and elegant letterforms remain in use, continuing a tradition of encoding public statements in a monumental graphic style that adds weight and seriousness to whatever content it presents.”
[The final comment is ambiguous: is it the specific style of letters on the base of the statue of Marcus Aurelius that has remained in use today or the general category of roman capitals derived from Ancient Rome via the Renaissance? The image is too small to see the details that are being described. Most examples of 20th c. Roman Imperial capitals on American public architecture suffer from being made mechanically. Why choose this particular inscription? It is neither the first Renaissance attempt at reviving classical Roman capitals without the use of geometric aids (see the inscription on the tomb of Ludovico d’Albret c.1465 by Andrea Bregno—Michelangelo’s teacher) nor is it the best example (one candidate for this honor would be the lengthy inscription along the facade of the Cancelleria c.1495 and another would be the inscription—often attributed to Giambattista Palatino—on the exterior of the Porta del Popolo 1562–1563), nor is it the one that has had the most influence on the 20th c. (that would probably be the capitals of Sebastiano Serlio—derived from hisRegole generali d’architettura […] (1537)?]
fig. 4.20a Aldus Manutius, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, 1499.
“This illustration… features an inscription in the style of classical square majuscules. These letterforms were revived in the Renaissance for use on public monuments….”
[The illustration followed a manuscript practice initiated by Biagio di Saraceno in 1450 and developed by Bartolomeo Sanvito in the following decades, but it is only a wan imitation of a classical inscription since Griffo’s type was not modelled on Roman Inscriptional capitals.]
p. 89 “Public lettering was revived, particularly in Italy, as part of a general rebirth of classical art and architecture. Monumental inscriptions became popular again.”
[These sentences and the remainder of the paragraph they are taken from typify the vagueness of the main text of Graphic Design: A Critical History. Nowhere is a date or even span of years given—other than the those in the chapter title (1450–1660) which is far too broad. Nowhere is anyone credited with this trend. Michelangelo is noted in the nearby caption to fig. 4.20b, but the date of his work (1538) is long after the rebirth of classical art and architecture occurred. There are many individuals who could be credited with the revival and at least one should be put forth. I would suggest Pope Sixtus IV who oversaw a major program of urban works and church restorations between 1470 and 1484 and marked each work with a plaque or inscription. For example, see the two bulls on the facade of S. Maria del Popolo or the two inscriptions formerly on the sides of the Ponte Sisto (whose design is attributed to Sanvito).]
fig. 4.21b Robert Granjon, Philippe Gautier, Alexandrine poetry, 1558.
[The title of the work should be Alexandreidos.]
“Granjon created his elegant Civilité typeface as a tribute to national hands that he felt suited the Gallic sensibility.”
[The image is too small to see Granjon’s civilité properly. There is also another reference to “Italian humanistic rotunda” in the text.]
pp. 92–93 Timeline
[There is no mention of either Sixtus IV or the equally influential Sixtus V. Why does the entry for Aldus’ edition of Virgil make no mention of Francesco Griffo or his italic type? Griffo is not mentioned with the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili entry either nor does he appear anywhere else in the entire book. Why mention the establishment of the printshop of Simon de Colines, but not those of either Henri or Robert Estienne?]
“1545 First engraved title page.”
[What is the title?]
fig. 5.2a Holy Bible, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1663.
“The acorn border adds a folksy touch….”
[It is doubtful that the acorn was chosen for any sense of folksiness. It was probably the only ornament that the printers had other than an Aldus leaf.]
“This Holy Bible was printed in 1663 in English and ‘the Indian Language’.”
[The Eliot Bible—why is John Eliot, the progenitor and translator not mentioned in the caption?—was, with the exception of its first title page, printed only in Natick-Algonquian. The first Bible to be printed in English in North America was The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Newly translated out of the Original Tongues…. by Robert Aitken in 1782.]
fig. 5.13b Letterpress trade card, 1770.
“Thomas Williams’s trade card is set in a form of Baskerville and printed with great clarity. Despite the decorative border and somewhat quaint capitalization of nouns, this design feels considerably more contemporary than engraved cards of the same period. The clear layout of textual information, without fussiness or devices, reveals the influence of a modern sensibility, one that rests on principles of order and organization rather than flourish and decorative distraction.”
[The typeface should be characterized as an imitation of Baskerville since “form of Baskerville” implies it was a type he designed—which was not possible since Baskerville did not sell his types. The layout and sensibility of the card are equally indebted to Baskerville who promulgated a spare typographic style which was as influential as his typeface.]
p. 108 “The virtuoso productions of writing masters in this era demonstrated systematic methods and elaborately choreographed movements of the hand.”
[No specific writing masters are mentioned but two pages from Arte Nueva de Escribir by Juan Claudio Polanco (1719) is shown on the same page. They are not a good example of this point since they show the proportions of letters, their inclination and the proper positioning of the pen on the paper—but no guides to the movement of the hand. The first rudimentary writing system was proposed by Charles Snell (Art of Writing in Theory and Practice1714; and Standard Rules… 1714), but it was not until the early 19th c.—beyond the scope of this chapter—that systems of pen and hand movement began to flourish. See John Jenkins (The Art of Writing… c.1813), Joseph Carstairs (Lectures on the Art of Writing 1814), and Benjamin Foster (Practical Penmanship, Being a Development of the Carstairian System 1830). The Carstairian System was especially influential. Polanco’s script (his Letra Bastarda displayed in fig. 5.14b) is very different from the scripts of these English and American writing masters as it still betrays the influence of the cancellaresca corsiva. His letters are actually quite tame compared to the truly virtuosic efforts of the Dutch writing masters Jan van de Velde (1605 and 1620) and David Roelands (1616) or the French writing masters Lucas Materot (1608) and Louis Barbedor (1659).
p. 108 “Humanistic models based in manuscript brush and pen strokes were displaced by a calculated approach to measure and proportion. Even handwriting was subject to a new rational discipline.”
[See the comments above about writing masters and writing “systems”.]
fig. 5.14b Juan Claudio Polanco, The New Art of Writing, 1719.
[The title should be Arte Nueva de Escribir.]
“These specimen sheets [actually page from a bound book] present the construction of all lowercase letters, according to a single system of strokes, proportions, angles, and shapes.”
[Polanco’s pages do not show a single system.]
fig. 5.15b Philippe Grandjean, Romain due Roi, 1702.
“Note the spur on the left side of the lower case l—a unique feature of the face.”
[The image is too small to easily see this important and distinctive detail. The discussion of the Romain du Roi makes no mention of the key idea of making an italic as a sloped version of the roman rather than as an outgrowth of broad pen cursive forms. Nor does it mention, in its discussion of modularity, an example such as the flopping and rotating of b to form d, p and q. Furthermore, Grandjean’s adjustments of Louis Simoneau’s engraved letters were not done simply to make them less “deadening” but to account for the much smaller size of printing type. His letters are optically scaled. That he came as close to Simoneau’s models is a testament to his skills as a punchcutter.]
p. 110 “In the 1770s, François Ambroise Didot perfected the 72-points-to-the-inch system elaborated in Fournier’s 1784 Manuel Typographique.”
[It should be pointed out that the inch in question was the French inch (pouce)—equal to1/36th of a meter—rather than the American inch.]
fig. 5.17 François Ambroise Didot, Bibliorum Sacrorum, 1785.
“The Didot family were publishers and expert type founders. F.A. Didot’s two sons Pierre and Firmin continued the work of the family firm into the nineteenth century…. Didot’s designs set a style for French literary publishing… and his faces continued to be a hallmark of fine content and quality production.”
[There is no clear indication which of the Didots is the designer of the Didot typefaces. Nowhere is Firmin singled out as the punchcutter in the family nor is there any mention of the work that Vibert did for Pierre’s typefoundry.]
fig. 5.20a Giambattista Bodoni, type specimen, 1788.
“The short lines on these small specimen pages are amply leaded.”
[Which 1788 Bodoni type specimen is being shown? In that year he issued Manuale Tipografico in both quarto (306mm x 226mm) and octavo formats and Serie di Maiuscole e Caratteri Cancellaresche in folio (345mm x 485mm) format. The small specimen pages alluded to must mean that it is the octavo Manuale Tipografico whose exact page size I have been unable to determine (only 100 copies were printed). However, the image area is identical to that of the quarto edition (of which fewer than 50 copies were printed) meaning that the page size had little impact on Bodoni’s layout. In fact, the images of Bodoni’s Majuscole and Cancelleresco are identical to specimens of those fonts that appear in his folio Manuale Tipografico (1818). The “Adria” specimen lacks the border of the other two which suggests that it comes from the 1788 folio.]
“His designs pushed the capacities of metal casting; the delicate serifs and hairline strokes broke easily.”
[Bodoni’s hairline serifs were not as fine as those of his contemporary Firmin Didot. In fact, his larger types, such as the “Adria” shown here has slightly bracketed serifs and condensed proportions—features not commonly associated with Bodoni types by modern designers.]
p. 113 “He [Bodoni] distilled letterforms into basic elements of serifs, straight lines, and curved strokes, as if they were units to be recombined, rather than integral parts of a gestural whole.”
[This description does not apply to the types of Bodoni! Look at the typeface in fig. 5.20a. But even his more severe types still reflect the influence of writing and lettering with the pointed pen. This is especially true of his cursives.]
pp. 116–117 Timeline
[Some missing items are Firmin Didot’s stereotyping, and significant works by J.W. Goethe, Friedrich Schiller and Immanuel Kant.]
“1702 Philippe Grandjean finished cutting Romain du Roi types.”
[This is not entirely accurate. That year he finished cutting the sizes of the Romain du Roi needed to print Medailles de Louis le Grand: Medailles sur les principaux evenements du regne, the first book to be set in the new face. But the cutting of other sizes (a total of 21 in all) of the Romain du Roi continued until 1745. Grandjean died in 1714 and the task was continued by Jean Alexandre and Louis Luce.]
“1772 first cast iron press made.”
[By who? The Timeline for the following chapter includes this entry: “1800 Earl of Stanhope designs first all-iron printing press.”]
[The “Tools of the Trade” list includes “lettering manuals” but none are named. The only lettering manual—as opposed to writing manual—I know of from the 18th c. comes from an article Berthold Wolpe wrote in 1964. It is Bickham’s Geomtrical Construction… (he provides no first name but presumably it is George Bickham, Sr. and no date). Wolpe also discusses an alphabet by Robert West that is contained in Ancient Masonry (1736) by B. Langley.]
p. 119 “In 1800, printing was still done on presses with wood mechanisms similar to those first used by Gutenberg.… The invention of the cast iron press around 1803 allowed for a larger printing area and greater pressure….”
[What about the reference in the previous chapter’s timeline to a 1772 cast iron press?]
fig. 6.4 The Penny Sunday Chronicle, “Murder of the Working Classes,” 1842.
[why not mention the factory reform movement in England that was behind these images, especially the Mines Act of 1842.
“Working conditions in collieries were dangerous and children and women played an important part in mining coal. In 1840 a Royal Commission was established to investigate the working conditions of children in coalmines and manufactories. Its findings were horrific with children as young as five or six working as ‘trappers’ [operating doors to enable air-coursing]. There were also many comments about the poor health of the mining community. Artists were employed to go underground and make sketches of workers. These appeared in the Commissioners’ Report published in 1842.” Richard John]
fig. 6.8b Alphabet book, 1832.
“John Catnach and his son Jemmy published a wide variety of street literature and inexpensive editions….”
[Where was Catnach located?]
fig. 6.9 Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Paul et Virginie, 1838.
“…the choice of a neoclassical typeface links it to the first appearance of the story, originally published in 1789.”
[This is not necessarily true since Didot-style typefaces were the dominant style among text types in France throughout the 19th c. The typeface in the book is an unusual one—note the distinctive g—cut by Vibert for Pierre Didot between 1810 and 1819.]
p. 126 “Fine printers and specialized publishers… were the ones primarily responsible for starting and supplying the vogue of period style revivals.”
[But the text accompanying fig. 6.10 Lady Willoughboy’s Diary, Chiswick Press, 1844 says, “Industrialization lowered publishing production standards dramatically in nineteenth-century Britain.…The literary publisher, Chiswick Press, was an exception to this rule.” Were there others in England in the period 1800–1850 besides the Chiswick Press—and William Pickering whose role goes unmentioned—in the class of “fine printers”?]
fig. 6.16a Announcement of sale, 1829.
[The heading should indicate this is primarily an announcement of a slave sale.]
“A cruel irony underlies the use of a rational, neoclassical titling face to promote a sale of human beings.”
[The titling faces—there are at least three—used in the announcement, although derived from neoclassical designs such as those of Didot and Bodoni, are not rational as is reflected in the name they were given: Fat Faces.]
“The delicacy of the serifs and relatively small size of this titling face confirm that it is metal type.”
[This is also confirmed by the date since wood type was not manufactured until 1828 in the United States and a few years after that in England (where this poster comes from). (Slavery was abolished in England in 1833.)]
p. 131 “Poster designers indulged in riotous displays of sizes, shapes, and varieties of letterforms. A vogue for novelty overcame any residual decorum or sense of restraint.”
[This language is highly subjective and unfair. This was the first time printers had the opportunity to use a wide variety of type. Were they restrained in the past or just constrained? Furthermore, these posters [shown in figs. 6.16a, 6.16b and 6.17b (all from the years 1829 and 1830)] are quite tame compared to those produced later in the 19th c.]
fig. 6.17c Circus bill, 1844.
[The image should be larger to be able to see the details of the wide variety of typefaces employed.]
fig. 6.18 The Amusement of a Bill-Sticker, 1820.
[The heading is in English but the illustration is entirely in French. (The caption should be titled “Distraction d’un Afficheur”.) Where was this printed? The location bears upon the types and dates of rules governing bill-sticking that are discussed in the text.]
“The size of posters shown remains relatively modest by modern standards….” (and fig. 6.17c “This large poster….”)
[Without any specific dimensions it is hard to know what is meant by “large” or “modest” or “small”. The book should provide dimensions where known since the erratic size of the reproductions makes it difficult to judge them. The only guide in this instance is the size of the two men. This image should have been paired with the more familiar “Fantasy of a Bill-Sticker” by John Parry (1835). However, the latter is believed to be an exaggeration.]
p. 133 “To reduce the weight of type in presses and galleys, large type was made out of wood”
[This is misleading as the principal impetus for the creation of wood type was the need for a reliable method for making large type. Metal type could not be cast in large sizes using handmoulds; it had to be made by dabbing or sandcasting. But these were fragile processes. Wood type was not used in text blocks and thus would not have influenced galleys. It was usually assembled in the bed of the press. The paragraph from which this statement is taken and the related text for fig. 6.10a–c make no mention of Darius Wells or William Leavenworth or even provide dates for the original application of the router and pantograph to the making of wood type. The chapter timeline does provide one of the two critical dates but still ignores the existence of Wells and Leavenworth.]
fig. 6.22 Willaim Blake, Jerusalem, 1804–1820.
[The image is too small to see Blake’s writing which is an important part of his unique books.]
p. 6.24 The Poor Man’s Guardian, August 20, 1831.
[The image is too small. It is not easy to read the motto in the woodcut.]
fig. 6.25b George Cruikshank, A Free Born Englishman, 1819.
“Cruikshank’s imagery referred to real people and political events.”
[These people and events should be noted. Otherwise the point of the image is lost.]
pp. 138–139 Timeline
“1818 Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico published by Stamperia Reale.”
[The heading or text should indicate that it was published posthumously.]
“1844 Chiswick Press prints William Pickering’s edition of Lady Willoughby’s Diary.”
[Charles Whittingham II’s 1840 takeover of the Chiswick Press should be mentioned as well.]
“1848 Revolutions in France.”
[1848 is widely known as The Year of Revolution. What about those in Italy, Prussia, Austria and the German Confederation? Why plural for France?]
“1846 first rotary press.“
[By who? There is no mention of Robert Hoe in the timeline. Nor of the Barth typecaster.]
p. 139 Tools of the Trade
[Why do some items go here (undated) rather than in the timelines? eg. wood pulp paper or rubber rollers? The dates are very useful in understanding the factors that affected graphic design.]
fig. 7.1a Trade calendar, 1885 and fig. 7.10 Invitation to a Soirée, 1884.
[Neither item is properly described as an example of Artistic Printing—a phrase which appears nowhere in the book.]
7.3a Train tickets, 1880.
“The business of setting fares in relation to distances between destinations, for instance, is part of a rational. centrally controlled system. The operation of such a system was mediated by graphic artists. Standardization of activities, environments, and forms became a norm, and coordinations of time and space were regularly represented in grids that governed daily life.” [This is an excellent point but why not show a railroad timetable instead of two train tickets?]
7.5a Linotype machine, 1880s.
[The usual date given for the first working Linotype machine is 1886. Why not list the exact model and year for this one?]
“Ottmar Mergenthaler’s Linotype machine was patented in 1884. Tolbert Lanston’s Monotype caster appeared a year later. Both machines used molten lead and were operated with a keyboard.”
[The years that patents are granted are not as important as the years when working models of an invention are displayed publicly, which in the case of the Linotype and the Monotype are conventionally seen as 1886 and 1887. Also, why is there no description of the differences between the two machines and how they got their names in the text? Instead, the text spends more time—worthy but not directly relevant to the image and caption—on stereotyping and the Benton punchcutting machine.]
p. 144 “Changing methods of generating and processing text and images, improvements in the speed of printing presses, and a new source for paper fiber all contributed to advances in print technology in the later part of the nineteenth century.”
[Why is there no mention of wood pulp as the new paper fiber or a date of its introduction?]
7.8 Color comic in The World, 1902.
[Why is there no artist identified as the creator of the comic?]
“The panel format became standard for comics and short narratives with punch lines.”
[Was this the first use of panels? If not, why not identify that comic and its creator?]
p. 147 The discussion of photography’s impact on graphic design makes no mention of the invention of Ben Day screens invented in 1879. The only mention of them occurs in the Tools of the Trade list in Chapter 10.
fig. 7.12 Paper money, “shinplaster,” 1870.
[The image is too small.]
7.14 His Master’s Voice, 1900.
“The invention of the gramophone introduced recorded media into the home and, with them, one of the most memorable brand images.“
[Why not discuss the history of trademarks and show some of the earliest ones such as GE, Coca Cola, Sears, Edison, AEG and Manoli. See also the text for fig. 7.21 Products and brands [which shows an undated Campbell’s Soup advertisement—which does mention other brands (such as Uncle Ben’s and Quaker Oats) but provides no dates.]
fig. 7.18 “Edison Records Echo All Over the World,” early 1900s.
[The image is too small.]
fig. 7.22 Frederic Goudy, The Inland Printer, 1898.
[The text makes no mention of Goudy or any direct reference to the illustration itself. The illustration shows how influential Willam Morris was in the United States—note the white vine border and use of blackletter. There is also an Aldine dolphin and anchor printer’s mark in the middle. Morris’ influence was aesthetic as the entire design was drawn by hand and then reproduced via zinc photoengraving rather than cut in wood.]
fig. 7.26 Posters in city space, 1905.
[The main text (pp. 157–159) talks about anti-billboard legislation in New York City and refers to this image but it is not clear if this is a photograph of billboards in New York City and the dates of the legislation are not given. The words “Bergen Beach” in the uppermost billboard suggest that the scene is either Manhattan or Brooklyn. Michelle Bogart, author of Artists, Advertising and the Borders of Art (1995), says that the anti-billboard movement in New York City, led by the Municipal Art Society, began c.1905 and culminated in the 1914 sign ordinance. Whether or not there were similar anti-billboard movements in Paris, London, Chicago or other large cities ]
fig. 7.27 Lucien Bernhard, poster for Adler Typewriters, 1908.
[“Lucien” should be “Lucian”; and the proper name of the company, which was German, is Adler Schreibmaschinen.]
“Bernhard was a skilled artist whose Sachplakat (“object poster”) style took full advantage of the richly saturated color that turn-of-the-century printing techniques made possible.”
[What were these techniques? new methods of making ink? a shift to rollers from daubers? improved printing presses? When did they first occur?]
pp. 160–161 Timeline
“1855 Photolithography invented but not viable.”
[Who? where? why not?]
“1884 Ottmar Mergenthaler patents Linotype machine.”
“1887 Tolbert Lanston perfects Monotype machine.”
[Why choose a patent date for the Linotype but a working model date for the Monotype?]
“1893 Coca-Cola trademark registered.”
“1897 General Electric establishes corporate identity department.”
[Why is this information not part of the main text or of text accompanying images?]
[The timeline contains no mention of the invention of a technique for printing lithographically onto tin, a process which influenced package design.]
p. 161 Tools of the Trade list
[Includes airbrush and zinc photoengraving but neither is discussed in the text—and, as usual, no details are provided in the list.]
fig. 8.2 John Ruskin, The Nature of Gothic, Kelmscott Press, 1892.
“The recovery and appreciation of historical styles carried an agenda that passed from Pugin to Ruskin to Morris in a direct line.”
p. 164 “The conviction that graphic design could help shape contemporary life was fostered by the writings of two significant architectural historians, Augustus Pugin and John Ruskin.”
[These are the sole sentences regarding the influential A.N.W. Pugin. (And he does not appear in the book’s index.) No names of his books; no dates. This is an example of how the reader has to hunt amongst the main text and the image texts to put together a complete story. There is no reference to fig. 8.2 in the main text and the image text does not include his complete name. There are no quotations from Pugin’s writings—nor those of Ruskin.]
fig. 8.3 Selwyn Image, The Century Guild Hobby Horse, title page, 1886.
“This exemplary production, supervised by Emery Walker and masterfully printed at the Chiswick Press, supported such claims.” re: the idea that printing and crafts should be on a par with sculpture and painting.
fig. 8.19 Emery Walker and Thomas Cobden-Sanderson, Doves Press Bible, 1903.
“Emery Walker and Thomas Cobden-Sanderson’s vision was influential.”
p. 166 “This ideal was formulated in conversations between the ubiquitous William Morris and his colleague Emery Walker in the late 1880s.”
[Walker was the ubiquitous one! He should be identified further. The exact roles he played in each of these enterprises, as well as in others that were significant, is not explained. The implication that he had an equal say in the aesthetic vision of the Doves Press is wrong.]
fig. 8.4 The Studio, cover, 1893.
[The text makes no mention of the leading role the magazine played in helping to popularize zinc photoengravings.]
p. 177 “At the same time Beardsley and other artists associated with the Decadents embraced photographic reproduction of line art because it more directly expressed an artist‘s vision, bypassing the intermediary interpretation of the wood engraver.”
[This statement fails to note the role of The Studio.]
fig. 8.5a William Morris, Canterbury Tales, Kelmscott Press, 1896.
“Morris had studied Medieval illuminated manuscripts in the 1850s….”
[The text should also mention Morris’ own illuminated manuscripts made in the early 1870s. While most are Medieval in style—they tell Icelandic sagas—his Odes of Horace is appropriately very Renaissance in every aspect.]
Some of them are more Renaissance in style than Medieval.]
p. 166 “Most mass-produced books in the nineteenth were of appalling quality, careless design, and poor workmanship.”
[this is the standard comment but no one ever shows examples of this bad design]
fig. 8.5b William Morris, Troy Type, 1892.
“Morris became interested in reviving blackletter typefaces that would invoke the pointed, brush-based letters of the Gothic period.”
[Gothic calligraphy was made with broad-edged quills not brushes.]
“Morris based his designs on samples of early German printing but simplified and expanded them, avoiding the spikiness that he believed rendered later blackletter faces illegible to a modern reader.”
[It should be pointed out that Morris achieved this goal by avoiding the northern European textura in favor of the southern European rotunda hand. Morris also sought to avoid the liberal use of “tied” letters (ligatures) typical of early printing with Gothic types. The printers he was using as inspiration were Peter Schoeffer and Gunther Zainer.]
fig. 8.6 Elbert Hubbard, The Philistine, 1895.
[Although The Philistine was an important part of Hubbard’s enterprise, the vehicle for spreading his ideas and products, this cover is not representative of the Roycrofter style. This is especially so, since the issue chosen is from 1895, a year before he met William Morris.]
fig. 8.7 Satanick type sample, The Inland Printer, 1896.
“The trompe-l’oeil cards and seals in the margins are a cruel joke on Morris and his integrated page designs.”
[They are also a typical aspect of Artistic Printing which the author’s have totally snubbed.]
p. 168 The discussion of the Glasgow Style makes no mention of the work of Talwin Morris.
fig. 8.10a Felix Valloton, Poster for Art Nouveau, 1895.
“Hand-drawn lettering and simplified and patterned floral motifs are characteristic of the Art Nouveau sensibility.”
[Why mention that hand-drawn lettering was typical of Art Nouveau when, as the text correctly points out, this example by Vallotton is atypical? Hand-drawn lettering was typical of most posters from the advent of chromolithography in the middle of the 19th c. until the triumph of photolettering and offset printing after World War II. The emphasis should be on the distinctive features of Art Nouveau lettering—which go beyond the integration of figure and ground mentioned. Art Nouveau lettering was organic and sinuous, emphasizing line and contour; it was ahistorical, though it picked up ideas from uncials and versals; it was influenced more by the brush and the pencil than the pen (whether pointed or broad-edged); and it was often integrated into the entire design.]
fig. 8.11a GE logo, 1890.
“The familiarity of the GE logotype obscures its historical origin in the late nineteenth century. But set alongside these motifs and decorative devices from Jugendstil publications [fig. 11b], its formal connections to them are striking.”
[Phillip Meggs tried to make this claim too, but I think the relationship between the GE logo and Jugendstil devices is pure coincidence. Swirling circularity is not enough. The GE logo is derived from standard penmanship of the 19th c. as were many other early company logos such as the well-known Coca-Cola script logo. The four swirling lines were probably meant to evoke the blades of a fan, one of the products that General Electric (its full name) manufactured. Furthemore, the motifs shown are not from a Jugendstil publication but from Ver Sacrum, published by the Vienna Secessionists. They appear to have been inspired by Japanese crests.]
fig. 8.11b motifs from Ver Sacrum, 1899.
[The image is too small to fully appeciate the subtle aspects of each motif.]
fig. 8.13 Gustav Klimt, first Secessionist exhibition poster, 1898.
“The male figure was nude in the first version of the poster. Trees were added to cover the naked genitalia, a sign of the conservatism of a world enamored of Greek and Roman classical traditions but shy about fully embracing them in their historical authenticity.”
[The figure is not simply a male figure but Theseus killing the Minotaur.]
“The structure and line work of this composition anticipate later Secessionist design developments.”
[This is not a sufficient discussion of the composition of this poster in which Klimt has introduced a radical new use of empty space that is far more important than whether or not Theseus’ genitals are visible.]
pp. 171–175 The discussion of both Jugendstil and Secessionism makes no mention of the struggle between blackletter and antiqua (roman) in German-speaking countries at this time. That struggle heavily influenced the choice of letterforms that are found in both the Jugendstil and Secessionist posters and other graphics.
fig. 8.16 Aubrey Beardsley, Salomé, 1896.
“Although an artist, not a designer, Beardsley created a style….”
[The distinction between an artist and a designer at this time needs to be explained since most of those we think of as designers today thought of themselves as artists.]
fig. 8.17 Charles Ricketts, The Sphinx, 1894.
“Working with Charles Shannon at the Vale Press, Ricketts produced elegant models of graphic harmony in fine printing publishing.”
[Shannon’s role in the Vale Press and his personal relationship to Ricketts should be noted.]
fig. 8.19 Emery Walker and Thomas Cobden-Sanderson, Doves Press Bible, 1903.
[The text discusses the calligraphic initial but makes no mention of Edward Johnston’s role in it. The entire first line (IN THE BEGINNING) was designed by Johnston as were all of the opening lines of the various books of the Bible.]
fig. 8.20b Frederic Goudy, ATF Copperplate, 1905 and Village, 1903.
[This image is too small to see the details of the two typefaces.]
“Frederic Goudy’s historical revivals favored some of the darker, bolder and more mannered typefaces of the early years of printing. His designs combined the organic quirkiness of Art Nouveau with some of the studied and copied forms that were typical of the fine press and typophilic communities.”
[Village was inspired by the types of Nicholaus Jenson but Copperplate Gothic (its proper name) has no historical sources. Furthermore it is an anomaly within Goudy’s oeuvre. There is very little, if any, Art Nouveau influence in Goudy’s typefaces. The softness that is typical of the majority of his faces is due to two factors: 1. he drew his letters in pencil in outline first, and 2. once he began to cut his own patterns the router added some roundness to the corners of letters. Goudy liked quirky letters but he usually justified their inclusion in his designs by citing historical precedents in inscriptions, manuscripts and typefaces. The quirkiness of Art Nouveau letters was the result of an ahistorical approach. Instead of showing Village and Copperplate Gothic, it would have been better to show more typical Goudy typefaces such as Kennerley, Goudy Oldstyle and Deepdene.]
“…but it was his legacy as a type designer that would endure.”
[This is correct, but these types do not show why Goudy was influential. Furthermore, the extent of his influence was not limited to his designs but in how they were issued. His relationship with Lanston Monotype from the early 1920s until his death was credited by his American contemporaries as of greater importance than the work of Stanley Morison at Monotype in England. He led the way in making machine composition acceptable in the United States. Goudy was an outsize personality because he was not only the first independent professional type designer but because for decades he was the only one in world.]
[Somewhere—in this text or earlier in the book—the central role of Nicholas Jenson as an inspiration to Arts & Crafts influenced printers and book designers should be noted. Drucker and McVarish only mention historical or Renaissance models without citing Jenson by name.]
p. 180 [Bruce Rogers and Goudy are discussed but there is no mention of Daniel Berkeley Updike. He was a commercial printer who did more than the books most people are aware of: journals, calendars, sheet music, bookplates, social printing, ephemera, even advertising. His influence on book design and printing in the United States and England was enormous in the years between 1905 and 1930.]
pp. 181-182 [The discussion of Peter Behrens’ role as corporate art director at AEG makes no mention of GE’s earlier corporate identity department listed in the Timeline to Chapter 7.]
fig. 8.22 Peter Behrens, AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitaets -Gesellschaft) catalogue cover, 1908.
“Behrens’s Antiqua typeface was based on a Medieval calligraphic original.”
[This statement needs some elucidation since the German meaning of the terms antiqua and medieval are not known to most readers of this book. In type medieval refers to the dark roman fonts of the incunabula period while antiqua refers either to the lighter ones pioneered by Griffo and perfected by Garamond or to all roman types. In this case it refers to the latter. Behrens did not base the type on Medieval calligraphy. He was inspired, according to Karl Klingspor by the 6th c. Codex Argenteus. The face was the culmination of his calligraphic studies with Anna Simons and F.H. Ehmcke. In terms of the image shown this is all moot since there is no type on the catalogue cover, only Behrens‘ handlettering or calligraphy—this is evident in an examination of repetitive letters as well as the fact that the tight spacing of the text would not have been possible with metal type. Such lettering was part of the genesis of Behrens Antiqua.]
fig. 8.23 Peter Behrens, AEG poster, ca. 1910.
“…only the lively brushwork basis of Behrens’s typeface betrays any trace of organic style.”
[As above, there is no type used in this poster, only Behrens’ handlettering or calligraphy. And that was done with a broad-edged pen, not a brush. These forms are not identical to those in fig. 8.22. There is a significant softening of features. This is in keeping with Behrens’ overall shift in letterforms between 1908 and 1914 as he moved toward imitating incunabula roman type such as that of Nicholas Jenson.]
fig. 8.24b Block letter for AEG, 1916.
“The design of the 1916 block letter that became the house typeface for AEG bears a strong resemblance to Edward Johnston and Eric Gill’s typefaces from around the same time.”
[There is no evidence in Industriekultur: Peter Behrens and the AEG, 1907–1914 that this “block letter” was anything more than an experiment. It is shown as G18 on p. 438 where Gabriele Heidecker only says “this sans serif is lighter and more closely spaced than the standard script in the AEG Normalien (1916), no. 120, pp. 89/90.” Johnston’s Railway Sans is also from 1916 but Gill Sans is from 1927 so the veiled reference to the latter is unwarranted. A close examination of Behrens’ sans serif (Heidecker does not call it a block letter) shows a hooked l like the one in Johnston’s Railway Sans but it also reveals many differences (the most obvious being the single story g), including an r with a ball for an arm that anticipates the Futura experiments of Paul Renner.]
fig. 8.24a Peter Behrens, Behrens-Schrift, 1902.
[The date of Behrensschrift (the orthography is variable) is usually given as 1901. The discussion about the influence of the pen on its design and Behrens’ attempt to mix gothic and antiqua forms is correct, but the context in which the face was designed is left out. Behrensschrift was the second important hybrid blackletter/antiqua face, after Otto Eckmann’s eponymous one, to try to solve the German problem a dual-script culture. This was a major issue in Germany between 1890 and 1914—it is usually referred to as the Frakturstreit—culminating in an inconclusive Parliamentary vote. The image is too small to appreciate Behrens’ attempt to blend blackletter and roman forms.]
pp. 184–185 Timeline
“1891 American Type Founders Company established.”
[The date should be 1892.]
“1903 The Daily Mirror in London begins using only photographic images.”
[This is significant and should not be relegated to a timeline. How quickly did magazines and advertisers adopt photography?]
[Among those who are not included—in any form—in Chapter 8 (besides Updike) are Morris Fuller Benton, Theodore Low DeVinne, Edward Johnston, W.A. Lethaby, Joseph Maria Olbrich, F.H. Ehmcke, the Steglitzer Werkstätt (considered to be the first design studio, George Auriol.]
p. 185 Tools of the Trade list
[Several of the items listed here—eg. ruling pen, frisket film, line block and pica ruler—would benefit from being explained: who invented them? when? and what purpose did they serve?]
fig. 9.3a El Lissitsky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919.
[The image is legible but its small size greatly diminishes the power of El Lissitsky’s design.]
fig. 9.2 Advertisements, Sunset, 1908.
[Why are advertisements from 1908 in a chapter devoted to the decades from 1910 to 1930?]
“From a design point of view, the absence of any rules of composition or developed notions of visual communication meant that a free-for-all attitude persisted.”
[This is not true. At this time there were rules of composition for books by Theodore Low DeVinne—and book design still heavily influenced magazine and advertising design. There were also many articles on layout that specifically addressed advertisements in The Inland Printer, The Printing Art and other trade publications. Between 1905 and 1910 the profession of the typographer developed and its leading practitioners (Benjamin Sherbow, Fred Singleton, Gilbert Farrar, Everett Currier, and E. Parker Archibald) all wrote and lectured on how to achieve good and, very important to them, effective composition. Concurrently, the advertising industry was paying more attention to the look of advertisements and men like George French and, especially, Frank Alvah Parsons wrote articles and books to spread the new gospel. The rules these men promulgated are often ones we would not agree with today, but nonetheless they were rules. There was no free-for-all attitude. The text accompanying this image should have tried to suss out the design principles underlying the various advertisements, which are not as chaotic as implied. For instance, type is usually centered and justified; borders are expected; typefaces are oldstyle and rugged; and illustrations or photography is realistic and straightforward.]
“The philosopher Walter Benjamin referred to the print culture of the 1920s as a blizzard of ‘colorful, conflicting letters’ that made concentration and reflection difficult.”
[This quotation is irrelevant to a discussion of two pages of advertising from a 1908 American magazine. Throwing Walter Benjamin into the discussion is just a prententious waste of time. But even so, his comments could apply to virtually any period from 1810 to today in an industrialized country, whether Germany, England or America. His statement reflects a snobbish, intellectual view of advertising (as well as effete sensibility that sounds like that of Proust).]
“The coming of professional design schools established new rules and methods. A sense that design was a skill that could be taught and would be valued gained credibility.”
[Drucker and McVarish do not provide the names of any design schools, but design principles were taught in private art schools and printing trade schools prior to the founding of specialized design schools. The Frank Holme School of Illustration, despite its name, taught a wide range of design skills, including layout and composition. Although it only lasted from 1898 to 1904 due to its founder’s ill health, it turned out Frederic W. Goudy, Oswald Cooper and W.A. Dwiggins. The Boston Typothetae ran classes in layout and composition for students in their printing school. In 1910 the Society of Printers collaborated with the Business School at Harvard University to establish a printing and publishing course that lasted for a decade. Design was taught by W.A. Dwiggins. And Vojtech Preissig, director of the School of Printing and Graphic Arts at the Wentworth Institute in Boston, taught design to its printing students. In England printers were still an important force in determining the look of a printed piece until well into the 1950s. One of their principal sources of information on design trends was the Monotype Corp., not only the articles in the Monotype Recorder, but also the numerous lectures Beatrice Warde made throughout the country. In the United States Paul A. Bennett played a similar role for Mergenthaler Linotype. Professional design schools—at least in the United States—did not have a serious impact on graphic design until the 1950s.]
pp. 188–189 “It was not until the early twentieth century that designers purposely exploited and revealed new technical capabilities.”
p. 188 “In spite of the profusion of nineteenth-century technical inventions, it was not until the early twentieth century that designers purposely exploited and revealed their capabilities.”
[These statements ignore the work of Gutenberg, Fournier, Johann Michael Fleischmann, Baskerville, Bewick, Firmin Didot, Currier and Ives, William Pickering, Oscar Harpel, George W. Jones, Jules Cheret, Aubrey Beardsley, Frank Holme, William Morris, George Earhart and others. They are not all designers because no such profession as design existed until late in the 19th c. or early in the 20th c. These individuals were as much designers as any of the avant-garde artists of the period from 1900 to 1930.]
fig. 9.3b El Lissitsky, self-portrait, The Constructor, 1924.
[The text should also mention that Lissitsky reused the hand and compass image in at least two other designs.]
fig. 9.4 Ilia Zdanevich, Soirée du coeur à barbe (The bearded heart evening), poster, 1923.
[The Evening of the Bearded Heart seems a better translation of the title.]
“In its use of multiple sizes and styles of type, it is also a technical achievement of intricate letterpress construction.”
[It is very unlikely that this design was composed by the printer. Instead, it was probably pasted up by Zdanevich on bristol board (or a Russian equivalent) from type proofs and then turned into a photoengraved zinc plate so it could be printed letterpress.]
“It breaks with the decorative sensibility of Arts and Crafts publications and fine printing and brings the verbal and visual languages of advertising into the world of art.”
[This implies that the advertising of the time was wild and raucous. It was actually quite staid until the mid-1920s. The wild designs of Zdanevich, the Futurists and the Dadaists predated similar work in advertising. The image should be larger for better examination.]
pp. 189–190 “In 1909, the Italian poet Filippo Marinetti burst into the spotlight when his Futurist Manifesto was published on the front page of the popular French newspaper, Le Figaro. Marinetti called for a radical new aesthetic sensibility in all arts.”
[Marinetti’s manifesto was aimed at poetry not all of the arts. It was followed by other manifestos for Futurist painting and Futurist sculpture]
[It would have been useful to quote Marinetti since he is so outrageous—or to show part of the manifesto.]
fig. 9.7a John Heartfield, Neue Jugend (New youth), 1917.
[is the name a jab at Jugend which had closed down only a few years earlier?]
fig. 9.11 El Lissitsky, Vladimir Mayakovsky’s For the Voice, 1923.
“The suggestion of a figurative image is made with printer’s rule in weights and forms that are closely related to those of the sans serif type.”
[The page tabs are set in sans serif type but the text on this spread is in serif type and the display type is a mix of sans and serif. El Lissitsky’s use of printer’s rule should be linked to its contemporary use by the Dutchmen Piet Zwart and H. Th. Wijdeveld. The latter was using printer’s rule as early as 1920 for the covers of Wendingen, a year before he met Lissitsky. It should also be noted that one reason for using printer’s rule was the lack of modern display types in general, but especially in Russia. The only other choices were 19th c. wood types or handlettering.]
fig. 9.12 Lucian Bernhard, loan campaign, 1915.
[The title should be “loan campaign poster” in keeping with the style used for the captions to other posters in the book.]
“Strong, simple imagery and direct messages in a Fraktur typeface came to be associated with German nationalism.”
[There is no type in the poster. The text is entirely handlettered.]
fig. 9.13 Hans Rudi Erdt, U-boats Out!, 1916.
[The captions to images involving posters are wildly inconsistent. In this case why “U Boote Heraus! (U-Boats Out!” as is done with several other non-English works.]
“The flat graphics and simplified imagery in this propaganda poster reiterate a style used to advertise vacations and leisure activities. This familiarization of war activity allowed the transition to armed conflict to seem more like a continuity than a disruption of everyday patterns of life. Using designers whose work had already become recognizable in the promotion of commodities, was a subtle way of eliding the difference between war and peacetime cultures.”
[An important question is how representative is the Erdt poster of German wartime posters? The Bernhard poster in fig. 9.12 breaks with his dominant leisure posters but the Ludwig Hohlwein one in fig. 9.14 does not. But the best pre-war poster designers were used because not because they had subtle ways to “elide the difference between war and peacetime cultures” but because they were the best at propaganda posters.]
fig. 9.14 Ludwig Hohlwein, Red Cross, 1914.
[The title should be “Rote-Kreuz-Sammlung (Red Cross)”.]
“This iconographic approach to communication manipulates the viewer [the point of propaganda] with emotional force rather than information….”
[This poster has the visual surface of the pre-war leisure posters but instead of being sachlikeit (objective) it is emotional. This change is not a minor one.]
fig. 9.22a Edward Johnston, London Underground typeface, 1916 and fig. 9.22b Herbert Bayer, typeface, 1925.
[The proper heading for the Bayer image should be “Herbert Bayer, Universal Alphabet, 1925. The design was never a typeface until The Foundry made a digital version c.1990.
[If the lowercase of Johnston’s typeface had been shown as well as the capitals, then it would have been easy to compare it not only with the Bayer alphabet but with the Behrens “block letters” in Chapter 8.]
“The quest for pure, minimal, and ‘universal’ faces was not unique to Bayer or the Bauhaus. Edward Johnston’s 1915 typeface design for the London Underground had similar aspirations and certain formal resemblances….”
[The date should be 1916 as in the heading. The text does not explain what made Johnston’s design so radical—and the resemblances between it and Bayer’s 1925 Universal alphabet (other than that they are both sans serifs) elude me. Nowhere is Johnston identified as a calligrapher.]
fig. 9.27 Piet Zwart, Nutter Margarine paper, 1924.
[Zwart’s design—when shown in this manner—is very confusing. The text should explain that it is a “packaging” design—calling it paper is insufficient to readers who do not remember when butter and margerine were bought at a dairy and then wrapped in paper for the trip home.]
pp. 210–211 Timeline
“1915 Edward Johnston designs typeface for London Underground.”
[The date is usually given as 1916.]
p. 211 Tools of the Trade list
[Ben Day textures are finally acknowledged, but they should be in the tool list for Chapter 7 since they were invented in 1879.]
p. 219 “The rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany prompted many prominent graphic designers to emigrate.”
[The names listed as examples (Herbert Bayer, Mehemed Fehmy Agha, and Alexey Brodovitch are poor choices since only Bayer emigrated to the United States because of Fascism—and even his case is a bit questionable. Agha came from Turkey in 1929 and Brodovitch from France in 1930; Bayer left Germany in October 1938, a full five years after the Nazis came to power and during that period he did work for them. He complained in 1938 that the Nazis were interfering with his creative control of the lifestyle magazine die neue linie which he had been art directing since its inception in 1929. Better examples of emigrés from Nazi Germany would have been: Kurt Schwitters, Georg Salter, Berthold Wolpe, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius, Fritz Kredel, Mies van der Rohe. I know of no emigrés of note from either Fascist Italy or Fascist Spain to the United States. Paolo Garretto moved to the United States in 1913 (and was deported to Italy during World War II! Leo Lionni was born in Holland and moved to the United States from that country in 1938. George Giusti moved to Switzerland in 1928 and then to the United States in 1938. The Swiss-born Xanti Schawinsky attended the Bauhaus and then moved to Italy where he did work for the Fascist government before moving to the United States in 1936. Fascism certainly influenced Lionni and Giusti but neither was an emigré from a Fascist country. And there were many designers who moved, deliberately or not, to the United States because of the outbreak of World War II which was, of course, an effect of the growth of Fascism in Europe.]
fig. 10.6a Max Burchartz, dance festival poster, 1928.
[The title of the poster should be “tanzfestspiele (dance festival)”.]
“Formal innovation reshapes photography and typography in this poster….”
[the only type in the poster is in the box at the bottom. The innovative text at the top is hand-drawn lettering. The dynamic aspects of the design are not due to Futurism but to Constructivism since Germany paid more attention to Russian artistic developments than to Italian ones due not only to El Lissitsky’s presence in Germany but to a view of the Bolshevik Revolution as a lodestar among those on the left.]
fig. 10.7 William Addison Dwiggins, The Power of Print—and Men, 1936.
[This is the only Dwiggins item in Graphic Design: A Critical History and does not fully represent his impact on American graphic design. His books Layout in Advertising (1928) or Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency… (1933) would have been better choices to show how he straddled traditionaism and modernism and to provide a taste of his thinking about design.]
“…a composition of his moderne printer’s flowers…”
[This is incorrect. Dwiggins did not use printer’s flowers in his mature designs. Instead he cut his own decorations into celluloid and then created designs by assembling them as stencils. The finished designs were turned into zinc plates for letterpress printing.]
p. 218 “…William Addison Dwiggins was helping define the field he called graphic design.”
[This is a very ambiguous way of saying that Dwiggins was the first to use the phrase graphic design. And the Timeline on pp. 232–233 is no more clearer: “1922 W.A. Dwiggins writes “New Kind of Printing Calls for New Design” since the title of his groundbreaking article does not include the phrase graphic design.
fig. 10.8a and 10.8b Alexey Brodovitch, editorial design, 1935.
[The caption title should include Vogue.]
[The text should make some reference to Brodovitch’s stay in France which preceded his move to the United States. Undoubtedly his sense of design owed a debt to French illustrators and fashion designers such as Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel.]
fig. 10.14a Eduardo Benito, Vogue, 1926 and 10.14b Mehemed Fehmy Agha, Art Director, Vanity Fair cover, 1934.
“The five years that separate these two images….”
[The gap is actually eight years.]
p. 223 “Graphic designers were described as ‘product stylists’ and ‘consumer engineers’ whose task was to create an aura that had little to do with practical use.”
[This is one example of where some more specificity in the main text would be helpful. This statement seems to describe the nascent profession of industrial design in the early 1930s more than those working in the field we now call graphic design.]
fig. 10.15a Harry Beck (Edward Johnston), London Underground map, 1933.
[This heading is highly misleading and the accompanying text is no clearer. Johnston had nothing to do with the famous Beck map. What may appear to be his sans serif typeface on the map—the image is too small to be sure—is actually handlettering by Beck according to Ken Garland, author of Mr. Beck’s Underground Map (1994), the definitive account of the map’s creation and evolution. The text does not discuss Beck or his map at all, but instead devotes its attention to Johnston’s typeface (again) and the work of Eric Gill since it is paired with fig. 10.15b which is discussed below.]
fig. 10.15b Poster showing Eric Gill’s typeface in LNER signage, after 1929.
[Gill designed an alphabet for LNER, not a typeface. And the design he did is not shown in this poster. The hand-drawn lettering in it is obviously based on Gill’s work but the title has been condensed and the remainder has been curved and distorted.]
p. 224 “Beyond the nineteenth-century concept of trademarks as guarantors of products, brands extended to complete visual identity systems and became marketable in their own right. These systems were applied to entire lines of goods and styles of communication. A company no longer simply had a logo or a letterhead, but a ‘look’—a harbinger of the corporate identity systems that would mature in the post-World War II years.”
[The only examples of corporate identity mentioned or shown in connection with this statement are the London Underground and the LNER. Other, in some cases better, examples should have been cited. Some suggestions are: Lord & Taylor, Knopf, Deberny & Peignot, Container Corporation of America, Haus Neuerburg, Pelikan, Sweet’s, NKF, Berkel, PTT, the Nazi party….]
p. 224 “As transportation and communication systems expanded, the idea of coordinated signage design followed…. For roads, legibility was the highest priority….”
[No examples are cited and the only ones I know of in the USA, Britain, Holland, Italy, and Canada (other than the aforementioned London Underground and LNER are from the late 1950s and early 1960s which is well beyond the timeframe of this chapter.]
p. 228 “Major figures in the American [advertising] scene, such as Earnest Elmo Calkins, Charles Coiner, and Lester Beall, pioneered a new professionalism in graphic design, giving it legitimacy and demonstrating the value of advertising in the modern business world.”
[The time period embraced by these three figures was not homogeneous and Calkins’ impact was much earlier than that of Coiner and Beall. Other people who were important during the years from 1910 to 1930 were Frank Alvah Parsons, E.G. Gress, Henry Bullen, Fred Singleon, Gilbert Farrar, W.A. Dwiggins, and Douglas McMurtrie. In the 1930s and 1940s Robert Foster was a proponent of professional design as was Robert “Doc” Leslie; and in book design the leading figures were Robert Josephy and Ernst Reichl. This is for the USA. In Germany, O.H.W. Hadank was the leading advocate and example of professionalism in graphic design from 1909 until after World War II; in Italy the key figures were Raffaello Bertieri (before the 1930s) and Antonio Boggeri and his colleagues at Campo Graficoin the 1930s. In France it was Maximilien Vox and Charles Peignot from the 1920s through the 1950s; and in Switzerland and Germany Jan Tschichold was a leading figure in urging professionalism.]
fig. 10.20 Lester Beall, technical image from trade journal, 1938.
[What is the name of the journal?]
fig. 10.23 Commercial Art Advertising Layout, 1928.
“Type styles of the period signal modernity—streamlined machine faces, scripts of greatly exaggerated elegance, and letters that seem to bear the mark of engineering tools. The names of these faces resonate with associations from the era—Broadway, Electra, Metro, and so on. Linotype and Monotype technologies contributed to the advent of such faces.”
[The image—although too small to properly see the details of the letters—shows lettering not type. A number of typefaces similar to these letters were issued between 1928 and 1930 and may have been inspired by this book. Those listed here—Broadway, Electra and Metro—do fit trends of the 1930s as well as 1920s but only Broadway bears any resemblance to the letters displayed. Other typefaces that do—and also have resonant names—are Parisian, Boul Mich, Modernique, Modernistic and Cubistic. Both Linotype and Monotype, which did not do display faces (at least until Linotype came up with its APL system in the 1930s) only barely contributed to the trend of “modern” typefaces during this period. The only examples that come to mind are Gill Sans and the previously cited Metro and Electra. The leaders in “modernistic” (i.e. Art Deco) designs were ATF, Ludlow, Deberny & Peignot, and Stephenson Blake—in that order.]
“Faces inspired by Garamond, Plantin, and Baskerville were made fresh, reinvented for a new generation and new purposes“
[Plantin was issued by Monotype in 1913. Garamond (the false one based on the work of Jean Jannon) was revived by ATF in 1919 who were followed by Lanston Monotype in 1921 (with Goudy’s interpretation named Garamont), and Monotype in 1923. Stempel issued an authentic Garamond in 1924 and Mergenthaler Linotype followed with one (by E.E. Bartlett) in 1929. But Bartlett’s design did not sell and Linotype licensed the ATF design, now known as Garamond no. 3 in 1936. Monotype issued a Baskerville in 1923 and English Linotype followed suit in 1926 (it was issued by Mergenthaler in 1931). If the new generation was the one of the 1920s and 1930s—the timeframe of Chapter 10—then what was the old generation?]
“They [the new generation of type designers in the 1920s and 1930s] took advantage of photographic technologies to play with stylistic effects, generating novelties that came to epitomize the culture of the day. Shaded lettering, twisted ribbon forms, and other elaborately decorative typefaces would have been too difficult to produce using the old methods of punch-cutting.”
[Such designs were possible without photography. Through electrotyping amazingly complicated designs were achieved in the second half of the 19th c. Look at the oeuvre of Hermann Ihlenburg. (See Mackellar, Smiths & Jordan: Typographic Tastemakers of the Late Nineteenth Century by Doug Clouse  for examples.) Photography did not have a significant impact on the stylistic appearance of type until the 1950s when Photo-Lettering (founded 1936) and its many competitors firmly established phototype as viable alternative to metal type and handlettering.]
p. 230 “Four-color photographic separation and offset printing stretched graphic capabilities beyond the limits of gravure and relief….”
[No dates are provided and no mention is made of which countries this statement applies to. My research has shown that in the United States it took until the 1950s for four-color printing to become commonplace outside of the major national magazines. The same was true for offset printing. Even on the eve of World War II advocates of offset printing were still writing articles in trade magazines such as The Inland Printer and The American Printer arguing the advantages of the technology vis a vis letterpress. Many designs from the 1920s and 1930s that have the vibrant color now associated with silkscreen or offset were actually done via letterpress. Printers used kiss impressions, multiple colors (up to 12 sometimes) and even water-based inks.]
p. 230 “The American Type Founders Company consolidated many independent foundries and started marketing type in coordinated families.”
[The consolidation of American foundries under the aegis of ATF was largely a fait accompli by the 1920s. The last major acquisition was Barnhart, Brothers and Spindler in 1918 (though BBS continued to operate independently until 1927). ATF’s pioneering introduction of the type family began in 1904 with Cheltenham and continued in 1908 when the foundry marketed the new News Gothic and Lightline Gothic as part of a family with the existing Franklin Gothic and Alternate Gothic. Thus all of this took place before the 1920s and 1930s, the focus of this chapter.]
p. 230 “Type design in the 1920s and 1930s reflected the diversification of the graphic design industry. Display faces for advertising and commercial work.… Vogue, Broadway, Tiffany, Souvenir, Electra, and so on.”
[This is another poor choice of typefaces to prove a point. Only Broadway (1928) and Vogue (1930) qualify both chronologically and typologically. Souvenir was issued in 1914 and the phototype ITC Souvenir in 1970. Tiffany Script, Tiffany Text and Tiffany Gothic changed their names to Typo Script, Typo Text and Typo Gothic in 1906. There are no other metal typefaces named Tiffany in American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century by Mac McGrew (1993). The phototype ITC Tiffany (based on several late 19th c. faces) was not issued until 1974. Electra (1935) was not available as a display face until the mid-1940s.]
p. 230 “For book publication, Monotype casting was most practical.”
[This may be true, but the implication that Monotype was more commonly used in the United States—Drucker and McVarish do not specify which countries their statement applies to but the display typefaces in the same paragraph are all American designs—than either Linotype/Intertype or foundry type during these decades is false. Stanley Morison’s historical type “program” at Monotype did not begin to have an impact in the United States until after 1929 when Centaur was converted and Bembo was released. Of the other key faces Morison took pride in, Fournier was rarely used in the United States, Gill Sans and Perpetua enjoyed much less popularity than in England, there was severe competition among the Baskervilles and Garamonds and Monotypes were not the first choice. Times Roman did not “set a benchmark for robust versatility and legibility in text faces” until after World War II. It became available from Linotype in the 1950s. At the end of the 1920s the most popular Monotype face was probably Poliphilus. Lanston Monotype was more commonly used in America than Monotype (though some of its designs were shared with the Philadelphia company) but those who gave Goudy credit for the increased acceptance of machine composition were advertising typographers, not book designers. From the late 1920s until the end of his life in 1966 Paul A. Bennett did periodic surveys for both Publishers’ Weekly and various Linotype publications of which typefaces were most popular among book designers using the AIGA 50 Books of the Year competition as a guide. During the 1930s Linotype held its own with Monotype. Before then they were less popular because their type library was geared toward newspapers and advertising text. But once George W. Jones of English Linotype created a Baskerville, followed by Granjon (his version of a Garamond and more authentic than anything Monotype had available) and Estienne; and Linotype GmbH (tied to Stempel) revived Janson—all shared with Mergenthaler Linotype by the early 1930s. These faces, especially Granjon, proved to be very popular. And then Dwiggins’ Electra and Caledonia took off in the second half of the 1930s. ]
pp. 230–231 “Their [Futura and Kabel] use supplemented that of Akzidenz Grotesk, known as Standard….”
[This may* be true of Germany and German-speaking countries but not of European countries and certainly not of the United States. Although both Futura and Kabel were available in the United States within a year of their release in 1927, Akzidenz Grotesk/Standard was not imported until the mid-1950s. The sans serifs (gothics) that Kabel and Futura supplemented were the old ATF standbys Franklin Gothic, News Gothic and Alternate Gothic. The preferred sans serifs in England in the 1920s and 1930s were Gill Sans from Monotype, Granby from Stephenson Blake and a melange of 19th c. grots from Monotype, Stevens Shanks and Stephenson Blake. In France Futura was controversial—remember that France has suffered devastating losses in the war with Germany less than a decade earlier—and had to be renamed Europe. Avant-garde Italian architects and graphic designers became enamored with Futura after the 1933 Milano Triennale but the rest of the printing trade tended to use the homegrown imitation called Semplicitá. Both France and Italy had their own anonymous 19th c. grotesques and there was no need to import Akzidenz Grotesk from Berlin. I suspect this was also the situation in Holland but do not know. I am also unfamiliar with Spain, though Futura must have been popular there once the Bauer foundry became affiliated with Fundicion Neufville in Barcelona. *Even in Germany these three faces did not dominate graphic design. Akzidenz Grotesk had a number of competitors, the most popular being Venus Grotesk (which was may have been used for Tschichold’s Die neue Typographie.) Futura was a sensation. But its success spawned many imitators (Kabel among them) which reduced its ubiquity. And, surprisingly, a number of “neue typographie” designers—including Tschichold—rejected Futura as too individualistic.]
p. 232–233 Timeline
“1924 Gebrauchsgraphik launched in Germany to promote advertising art.”
[Gebrauchsgraphik deserves to be in the main text or at least as an image with an extended text. Not only was it influential in Germany until World War II forced it to shut down, but it was in English as well as German and sold in the United States where it was one of the two major sources of information on European modern design trends. Paul Rand certainly claims to have learned more from it than from Pratt Institute of Art. Its editor H.K. Frenzel promoted a wide variety of styles and modes of design from an impressive array of countries. The other major source of modern European design was A. Tolmer’s Mise en Page which The Studio published in England and the United States. Tolmer’s exuberant compilation of advertising, design and printing ideas was more influential in both the United States and England than the Bauhaus or the writings of Tschichold prior to World War II.’
p. 233 Tools of the Trade list
[The Mayline should be explained.]
fig. 11.1 Harry Komer, Save Waste Fats, 1943.
[“Komer” should be “Koerner”. See the signature in the lower righthand corner of the poster.]
fig. 11.3 WPA Anti-syphilis poster, late 1930s.
“But the implication is that syphilis is a male problem. Women are nowhere in evidence, even though the disease is sexually transmitted.”
[This is because the disease is largely a male one; at that time most of the female victims tended to be prostitutes. The goal was to educate men as the means of disrupting the spread of the disease. A poster aimed at women would have had less impact in a time before women were a significant part of the workforce and the sexual revolution had yet to occur.]
fig. 11.4 Martin Weitzman, WPA fire safety poster, ca.1936.
[There is a second figure, a woman at the top right of the poster, who is not part of the analysis.]
“The economic aim of the WPA was to provide employment, but the program was also premised on the conviction that art should enter the daily lives of all Americans.”
[To accomplish this goal the WPA supported sculptures, mosaics and murals on and in public buildings throughout the United States. See for example the stunning rotunda mural at The Marine Terminal at LaGuardia Airport. This, rather than the posters discussed and shown here, was the art the agency was promoting to every American. The WPA supported photography as an everyman’s art (see fig. 11.5).]
fig. 11.5 Anthony Velonis, WPA photography exhibition poster, 1938.
“Charles Scheeler” should be “Charles Sheeler”
[This text makes no mention of the WPA’s promotion of camera clubs. And there is no mention of the Art Deco lettering which makes this an avant-garde poster in the American context.]
fig. 11.6b Industrial Workers of the World poster, 1917.
[The title should be “The Pageant of the Patterson Strike”. Nowhere on the poster does it say Industrial Workers of the World. Only I.W.W. which is not the central text. The date should be 1913.]
“American labor graphics contained heroic figures ready to take charge of their own destiny. The individual worker is idealized in a muscular figure of youth and energy seemingly invincible as he strides toward his audience.”
[This trope was not uniquely American, but was derived from European socialist and communist graphics going back to the late 19th c. Many of the leading figures in the IWW and other radical American groups were immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe. There was close contact internationally among groups and so imagery was often shared and emulated. The IWW (Wobblies) should be explained in the text as well as the importance of the Paterson, New Jersey strike which took place in 1913. The Pageant was a unique event as artists and intellectuals from Greenwich Village supported the strikers. See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/goldman/peopleevents/e_strike.html]
fig. 11.6a Russia Did It, leaflet, 1919.
[The image is too small to read the text easily and the text is important to fully understanding the image.]
[The leaflet is aimed at shipyard workers whose actions were the catalyst for the Seattle general strike of 1919—the source of this image (see http://www.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/STRIKES!/exh.html and http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/).]
“They [the leaflet and the Patterson Pageant poster] remind us of a moment in American labor history when the Russian experiment appeared to hold a utopian promise.”
[The euphemism “Russian experiment” should be avoided and the “Bolshevik Revolution“ or “Russian Revolution“—with the date of 1917!—should be used instead. The date is very important here since this statement is only true of the leaflet. The revolution occurred after the Paterson Strike and so had no influence on it.]
p. 241 “Blackletter was reclaimed by German designers to satisfy the Nazi party’s desire for a strong association with ethnic roots and a a connection with a mythic past.”
[This is only partly true. The Nazi party leaders were split on volkisch imagery and symbols and the use of blackletter. Joseph Goebbels and Alfred Rosenberg favored them as important visual aspects of Germany’s heritage, but Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer wanted Germany to project a more modern image (though not an avant-garde one) and were disdainful of lederhosen and dirndls as signs of Germany’s agrarian past and of blackletter as a hindrance to Germany’s role as the leader of Europe. There was never a decree issued making blackletter the official form of lettering and other forms continued in use during the 1930s even as blackletter saw a resurgence after 1933. The prototypical Nazi form of blackletter was a modernized and streamlined textura—stripped of decorative elements and other inessential letterparts and called Schaftstiefelgrotesk by post-World War II German type historians—that first appeared in the late 1920s and was originally seen as a companion to sans serif faces such as Futura (eg. Element). A handlettered example is visible in fig. 11.8b Hitler Ja!, 1938.
p. 241 “Italian designers used deco-Roman lettering to claim a modern incarnation of ancient glory….”
[“deco-Roman” is not defined. It is not a familiar term though I suspect it means either Italian Art Deco or a combination of Art Deco and Roman (i.e. Imperial Roman capitals). The designers who did work for the Fascist government (which lasted from 1921 until 1944) used a wide range of lettering styles during those years: from 1921 to c.1926 they used the usual holdovers from the late 19th c., though rarely Art Nouveau; from 1927 to c.1932 some used quasi-Trajanic capitals and others used aggressively Art Deco geometrical capitals (especially planar ones rather than linear); after the Milano Triennale of 1933 there was preference for Futura, typefaces that copies it, and hand-drawn letters that were “rational” (meaning they were made using graph paper as well as compass, t-square and triangle—this vogue came to a virtual halt after the end of the Italo-Ethiopian War in 1936 and the signing of the Berlin-Rome Axis pact months later; the sans serifs were largely replaced by a new, and improved, form of quasi-Trajanic letters. Throughout the 1930s planar Art Deco letters continued to be popular. There is nothing distinctly Italian or Roman about the Art Deco letters—they certainly had nothing to do with the Fascist’s desire to create a Terza Roma. That was the job of the quasi-Trajanic capitals or the sans serifs (remember that there are ancient Roman inscriptional sans serif letters). The type of letters used often depended on the context and the artist as well as the shifting winds of fashion.]
fig. 11.9b Ludwig Hohlwein, Arbeit Brot, 1940s.
[The title should be “Drum Liste 1” and the image is a postcard not a poster as are the three images it is grouped with. The website http://beck.library.emory.edu/greatwar/postcards/view.php?id=drum_listedates it c.1934 rather than from the 1940s. Thus, since its lettering is not blackletter, it is one example in support of my comments re: p. 241.]
fig. 11.10 Erskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke-White, You Have Seen Their Faces, 1937.
[The book was written in 1937 but this cover design is from the late 1960s or the 1970s (not the use of the typeface Friz Quadrata). The original cover of the book can be seen at http://cgi.ebay.com/Caldwell,–Erskine-You-Have-Seen-Their-Faces_W0QQitemZ130274203783QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ20081207?IMSfp=TL081207159007r1666#ebayphotohosting. It is much more modern with a single full-bleed photograph and the title set in Futura on a diagonal panel.]
fig. 11.12 Kodak ad, 1944.
[The full word “advertisement” should be used in a book such as this rather than the colloquial “ad”.]
[This advertisement supports the statements I made earlier about the slow acceptance and spread of four-color printing. It is 1944 and Kodak is explaining the process to the average American to whom it was still clearly novel.]
fig. 11.13a Jenny on the Job poster, 1943.
“High heels and dresses were put aside momentarily, while women played their part without losing their ‘essential’ femininity.”
[High heels and dresses were put aside because they were safety hazards in the industrial workplace—dresses got caught in gears, saws, blades and other machinery and could lead to death while high heels could get caught in catwalks, pavement cracks or stairs and cause falls. This poster was promoting safety rather than attempting to create a new “femininity”]
fig. 11.13d Herbert Morton Stoops, Careless Talk, poster, 1944.
[The style for image headlines is inconsistent throughout Graphic Design: A Critical History. Here a comma is inserted between the title of the poster and the word “poster” but not in figs. 11.13a or 11.13b on the opposite page. And the headline for fig. 11.13c (on the same page) leaves out the word “poster” entirely.]
[There are no posters by Abram Games in Graphic Design: A Critical History. Not only is the British Games an important World War II poster artist, but his works are, in general, superior in design to American efforts. Including him would also have broadened the samples of work in the book. And this would have been the perfect place to include one of his posters since “Your talk may kill your comrades” (1942) is a perfect companion to Stoops’ poster.]
fig. 11.14a Insignia poster, Government Printing Office, 1943.
[This title should be “Insignia of the Army of the United States poster, Government Printing Office, 1943”.]
“These bold graphics sensitized the public to differences between allied and enemy vehicles so that they could be recognized at a glance.”
[This particular poster has nothing to do with aircraft or vehicle identification. It is unclear whether the poster was intended for civilians or for soldiers.]
fig. 11.14b Air raid warning system, Government Printing Office, 1943.
[The title should be “New Air Raid Warning System poster, Government Printing Office, 1943”.]
“The designer has attempted to make a forceful narrative link between hearing a signal and responding appropriately. No other options are to be entertained. Circumstances and limiting factors that could affect response (incapacitating illness, age, family situation, weather, etc.) are not considered. The poster addresses all citizens as if they were alike.”
[A poster should be brief and direct. To include all the possibilities asked for here would have turned it into a treatise or brochure. It is possible that the poster was supplemented by other literature addressing Drucker and McVarish’s concerns or even by verbal instructions at air raid shelters or Red Cross stations. As it is the poster is explaining three things: when each signal is given, what each signal means, and what action should be taken upon hearing the signal.]
fig. 11.14c Herbert Matter, Container Corporation of America ad, 1943.
[The image should be larger.]
fig. 11.17a Fortune cover, 1948.
[The title should read “Will Burtin, Fortune ‘Automobile Design’ cover, 1948”. Burtin was art director at Fortune until 1949. The cover is unsigned which means it is probably his design. Not only is he not credited but the text does not mention him at all.]
“This image presents an automobile that functions as pure drive shaft, tire, driver’s seat, and auto body. The car’s interlocking parts are portrayed in relation to each other without reference to a human user.”
[The issue is devoted to automobile design. There are undoubtedly other illustrations inside accompanying the cover article and it is possible that one of them includes a human presence. By the way, that same issue apparently includes “In the Heart of the Black Belt” by Lawrence Jacobs pp. 88–89 with paintings by him and photographs by Walker Evans.]
fig. 11.19 Statistical graph, Walter Weld, How to Chart Facts from Figures with Graphs, 1947.
“Drawing on sources such as Fortune magazine, which provided well-structured graphics for industry and business analysis….”
[Some of those Fortune diagrams and graphics—the work of Will Burtin—should be shone as they are much less known than the magazine’s covers. Luckily, a few are included in Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin by R. Roger Remington and Robert S.P. Fripp (2007]
fig. 11.20 World Geo-Graphic Atlas, Herbert Bayer, 1953.
[The images are too small.]
fig. 11.21 British war propaganda poster, 1940s.
[The title should be “Lend to Defend His Right to Be Free poster, 1940s.” The use of the word “propaganda” is inappropriate in the title. If it is included here then it should have been used in the titles to the various World War I posters as well as the other World War II ones. And none of the other posters are labeled as being either German or American so this one should not be called British, though that fact could be brought out in the text. This is more than a lack of consistency. This is a sign of underlying bias which in this particular case rises to the surface in the text.]
“Such an image’s sentimental impact is undeniable, but the casting of British-ness as an innocent child whose ethnicity is marked in this image has its own ideological implications. Diverse populations shared the history of colonialism.”
[The poster is about British defense bonds not about defense bonds for a specific colony or the Empire itself. To show a non-white child as the only figure would have blunted the poster’s impact since Britain’s population in 1940 was virtually all Caucasian. Immigrants from England’s colonies did not begin entering the population until the 1970s and even now non-whites make up only 5% of the population! The question is: were there any war posters aimed at members of the British Empire? and, if so, what did they look like?]
fig. 11.22 Life insurance ad, 1944.
“The model family no longer includes a working woman as it might have during the war.”
[1944 was a war year. The text—not easy to read with such a small image—indicates that the “model family” is threatened by the war—not by women working. It’s sales pitch is that without life insurance, the family will be threatened if the man dies or is maimed so severely he cannot work. To show his wife working would have implied that he had failed to buy life insurance.]
fig. 11.23 George Giusti, [The] Davison Chemical Corporation ad, 1944.
“‘Progress through Chemistry’ [a slogan in the advertisement] combines the diagrammatic language of information graphics with an iconography of recognizable objects. The beaker shape and the man in the white coat are the defining visual forms, the others—map, liquid, lump of raw material—are linked by a dynamic arc of energy flow.”
[The apparently unrecognizable objects are the keys to understanding the advertisement. The map is an urban area, the lump of raw material is alum, and the liquid is water. The message—reinforced in the text [which is difficult to read at this scale]—says that alum helps to purify water which is good for most large cities since they are located next to sources of water that are heavily polluted.]
“1937 Institute for Propaganda Analysis founded in U.S.”
[This is an intriguing entry that should be explained a little more. See:
“1944 Ballpoint pens introduced.”
[Ladislas and Georg Biro are usually credited with inventing the ballpoint pen in 1935. But a ballpoint pen that worked reliably did not occur until 1952 when Marcel Bich marketed his “Ballpoint Bic”.]
“1947 Intertype’s photocomposition machine introduced.”
[The Intertype Fotosetter—its proper name—was not a major milestone in the development of phototypography. Intertype tried to marry photography to its existing linecasting machines by inserting a small photographic image of a letter into a metal matrix which would be photographed—instead of dunked in hot lead—as it was keyboarded into position. The more important machines of Lumitype/Photon are ignored in the timeline and in the chapter.]
“1954 Four American Graphic Designers exhibition at MoMA.”
[Who were the four designers?]
p. 257 Tools of the Trade list
[The Varigraph lettering device should be explained. To see a photograph of one (though without explanation), see:
fig. 12.1 Paul Rand, IBM logo, 1956.
[The date is misleading. In 1956 Rand replaced Beton Bold with City Medium and modified the counters of B to create a solid “continuity logo” for IBM. Presumably the outline version was done at the same time or shortly thereafter. But the 8-stripe logo was not done until 1972 and the 13-stripe logo apparently appeared, albeit briefly, as early as 1967.]
“The typeface he chose as a point of departure (City Medium) was designed by Georg Trump in the 1930s.”
[City Medium was released in 1930. Its connection to the New Typography is not mentioned except elliptically: “the dated modernity of Trump’s face”]
pp. 260–261 The discussion of image and identity systems is too USA-centric. The only non-American company listed or shown is British Petroleum. There is no mention of the work of Total Design (Schiphol Airport, PTT), Tel Design (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways), PTT), Anton Stankowski (Deutsche Bank), Otl Aicher (Braun, Lufthansa), Karl Gerstner (IBM Europe), Max Huber (COIN, La Rinascente), Bob Noorda (Agip, Metropolitana Milano), Albe Steiner (COOP), Giovanni Pintori (Olivetti), Herbert Spencer (Lund Humphries), Olle Eksell, and so on.
fig. 12.5a Unimark, signage system, 1960s.
[The image is from the 1990s and both the typeface and figure/ground relationship are not those spec’d by Bob Noorda and Massimo Vignelli between 1966 and 1970. The text only mentions Noorda and not Vignelli. See: http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/the-mostly-true-story-of-helvetica-and-the-new-york-city-subway.]
fig. 12.5b Massimo Vignelli, National Park System, 1977.
[The image too small.]
fig. 12.7 Josef Müller-Brockmann, Schützt das Kind! (Mind the Child!), Swiss Automobile Club, 1955.
[“schützt” should be in lowercase as in the poster.]
“The scale distortion between wheel and child, the lines of motion coming from the brakes, and even the elevation of the exclamation point to the status of a separate word by the introduction of a space after ‘Kind’ are all expressive elements.”
[The space between “Kind” and the exclamation point may reflect a different approach to punctuation—the French leave a space between the last letter of a word and the punctuation mark that follows. More likely—since I have not seen this style in any of my Swiss publications—Müller-Brockmann may simply have been trying to visually separate the d from the exclamation point since they are of the same height and thus would blur together at a distance.]
p. 266 re: the International Typographic Style: “Yet, although the term international suggested a global nexus, in fact, the major stylists of internationalism remained those working in European, American, and Japanese contexts.”
[This is not true. Adrian Frutiger and Armin Hofmann brought the style to India; Mary Viera brought it back to her native Brazil; Ruben Fontana introduced it to Argentina; Felix Beltran used it in Mexico; and it could be found in Israel, Australia, Hong Kong (which was still independent), Canada and other countries (even Cuba) where one or more designers had had contact with its Swiss originators.]
fig. 12.16 John Massey, U.S. Department of Labor, 1974.
[The title should be John Massey,Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Standards Under the Fair Labor Standards Act study, U.S. Department of Labor, 1974.]
“Information is defined by the system, but the system also overwhelms specific issues of work hours, wages, and health and safety conditions by turning the entire design into a formal exercise. Reason and systematic logic rule the graphic approach, suggesting that they also govern the policies described in the publication.”
[This is reading way too much into the design. The publication is not concerned with health and safety conditions but with wages and hours. Furthermore it is not aimed at workers but at bureaucrats. The fine print says that it is an “Economic Effects Study / Submitted to Congress 1973.” Massey has actually livened up a dull bureaucratic publication with his syntactical division of the phrases “mi/ni/mum/wage” and “max/i/mum/hours” without taking anything away from the functionality of its cover. And if the design suggests that reason and systematic logic govern the policies then that is what is to be hoped for from a bureaucracy.]
fig. 12.17 William Golden, CBS logo, 1950.
“Confronted with this symbol of network identity, a viewer feels that the processes of production are inaccessible, sealed into the hermetic completeness of a large, powerful firm, beyond the reach of individual influence.”
[Is this feeling of powerlessness the result of Golden’s logo? or would any logo for either CBS or NBC—the only two broadcast networks that existed in 1950—have had the same effect?
fig. 12.18 William Golden and Ben Shahn, trade ad, CBS, 1957.
“Commercial and editorial uses of fine art and hand-drawn illustration were almost obsolete by the 1960s.”
[This is looking at the state of illustration through too narrow a lens. It may have been in decline, even steep decline, in mainstream publications and advertising, but it was surviving—and changing—elsewhere. In the 1950s jazz album covers used illustrations by James Flora, Burt Goldblatt, Andy Warhol, David Stone Martin and others. Arnold Varga was making inventive use of illustrations in his advertisements for the Joseph Horne department store in Pittsburgh and arch-modernists such as Alvin Lustig and Paul Rand were using illustrations in many of their book covers. The creation of Push Pin Studios in 1956 gave a further boost to illustration that continued well through the 1960s. Some of their work included the Signet Shakespeare series covers by Milton Glaser, Ramparts magazine covers by Paul Davis, and album covers by Glaser, Davis, Barry Zaid and Seymour Chwast. In the 1960s rock album covers were a hotbed of innovative illustration by Klaus Voormann, Peter Blake, R. Crumb, Lee Conklin and others.]
fig. 12.21 Adrian Frutiger, Univers, 1954.
[Univers was released in 1957. This diagram of its various family members was designed by Rémy Peignot.]
“Designed by Adrian Frutiger, the face [Univers] is derived from earlier twentieth-century Gothic faces.”
[This denies the originality of Univers which came out of Frutiger’s student lettering lessons under Walter Käch and Alfred Willimann and not from specific pre-existing grotesque/gothic typefaces. The naming system—which was an attempt to do away with confusing and contradictory typeface names and thus to add to the face’s “universal” appeal was Frutiger’s idea. He has since applied it to other faces he has designed.]
fig. 12.22 Max MIedinger and Edouard Hoffman, Helvetica, 1950s.
[The title should be “Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, Neue Haas Grotesk, 1957.” Hoffmann (two n’s) first name has been misspelled for decades. The face he and Miedinger created—he was the art director and Miedinger was the craftsman—was released in 1957 as Neue Haas Grotesk. It gained the name Helvetica in 1960 when it was issued, with some minor tweaks, by Stempel and Linotype GmbH. Work on the face, according to recently published notebooks by Hoffmann show that the design was begun in 1956.]
“Designed by Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffman [should be Eduard Hoffmann]for the Haas foundry in the early 1950s….”
[See the corrections above.]
“Helvetica (which means Switzerland in Latin) was originally called Neue Haas Grotesk….”
[Helvetia—without the c—is the Latin name for Switzerland, Helvetica is a word coined by Stempel.]
“The curved tails of t and y, for instance, give this face’s letterforms more variety than those of more rigidly designed geometric faces that follow mathematical principles without regard to their effect on the eye.”
[It is unclear which sans serifs are described here or why the discussion centers on t and y unless the “rigidly designed geometric faces that follow mathematical principles…” refers to such designs as Bayer’s Universal alphabet. Univers, Helvetica’s chief rival, does not fit into this category despite it sense of perfection. Frutiger drew or cut all the letters by hand and eye. Futura, despite being the face that launched the category of geometric sans serifs, has many callgraphically or epigrapically infuenced features.]
p. 272 “Typefaces designed by Hermann Zapf (Palatino, Optima and Melior), Adrian Frutiger (Univers), and Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffman [sic] (Helvetica) defined the era—but then, so did Brush and other script faces, which were often seen in ads and fashion magazines. Less popular were Old Style faces.”
[for the full range of the 1950s to 1970s this statement is only somewhat true—and then mainly in Switzerland. In the United States none of these faces had an impact in the 1950s and they were not seriously used until the mid-1960s. The popular faces in American graphic design from c.1950 to c.1965 were the usual standbys: Bodoni, Caslon 540, Baskerville, Craw Clarendon, Futura/Spartan, Franklin Gothic, News Gothic and Century Oldstyle. Lettering rather than type was used for most brush headlines in advertising and editorial design. The preferred typefaces in this genre were exclusive designs from Photo-Lettering and its rivals by Ed Benguiat, Dave Davison, Pete Dombrezian and other NYC lettering artists. In Switzerland—with the exception of Emil Ruder and his followers—the dominant typeface among the modernists remained Akzidenz Grotesk. In England, the usual Monotype designs—Bembo, Times Roman, Gill Sans, Perpetua—dominated design well into the 1960s. In France, the types of Deberny & Peignot and Fonderie Olive were preferred: Meridien, Univers, Mistral, Antique Olive, Calypso, Peignot, etc. In Italy the types by Alessandro Butti and Aldo Novarese for Fonderia Nebiolo were preferred until Massimo Vignelli introduced Helvetica to Milano in the early 1960s. And in Holland, the dominant faces were those of Lettergieterij Amsterdam and Enschedé (and Monotype) until Wim Crouwel began using Univers in the mid-1960s. Palatino was mainly a book face in those years; Melior was virtually ignored; and Optima often confused people.]
fig. 12.23 Bradbury Thompson, Alphabet 26, 1950.
“Bradbury Thompson’s Alphabet 26 was not a success.”
[Alphabet 26 was never a commercial design, merely a proposal for which Lanston Monotype in 1960 cast special characters at Thompson’s request. The original 1950 proposal used a modified Baskerville alphabet, combining caps, small caps and lowercase. A sans serif version of Alphabet 26 was also done in 1960 using Folio (1957) which had biform characters. Thompson’s experiment was preceded by his Monalphabet of 1945 which was based on Futura and was closer to the unicase experiments of the 1920s.]
fig. 12.24 Franco Grignani, Alfieri & Lacroix ad, 1950s.
[The poster is from 1960.]
fig. 12.26 Cipe Pineles, Seventeen, 1949.
“Cipe Pineles was one of [the] first women art directors to rise to prominence.”
pp. 278–279 Timeline
“1956 Rand designs IBM logo.”
[This is not worded precisely enough. See the comments re: fig. 12.1.]
“1957 Chermayeff and Geismar open their ‘design office’.”
[In 1957 Brownjohn, Chermayeff and Geismar was established. The firm did not become Chermayeff and Geismar until 1960 when Robert Brownjohn left for England.]
“1957 Helvetica designed by Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffman [sic].”
[This should be Neue Haas Grotesk.]
“1958 Josef Müller-Brockmann and R.P. Lohse launch Die Neue Grafik.”
[The magazine was begun with four editors. Hans Neuburg and Carlo Vivarelli are left out.]
“1965 Massimo Vignelli cofounds Unimark International in Chicago.”
[The original partners of Unimark were Ralph Eckerstrom in Chicago, Vignelli in Milano (and then in New York), Bob Noorda in Milano, and James Fogleman in New Jersey. The original idea for the firm emerged in conversations between Eckerstrom and Vignelli.]
fig. 13.1 Doyle Dane Bernbach, Volkswagen ad, 1960.
“Seriousness was gone. Cleverness was in.”
[There was clever and humorous advertising before the Volkswagen advertisements—see the Ohrbach’s ads by Paul Rand and Bob Gage or Rand’s General Cigar ads—but the difference was that the cleverness in the past was often visual. Here it more verbal.]
fig. 13.8b Ken Garland, First Things First, 1964.
[The image is too small. And it would be useful to quote a point or two from the manifesto]
p. 293 “Photocomposition of lettering moved from experimentation to full-blown production and adoption by the end of the 1960s.”
[Only ITC and Photo-Lettering mentioned in this discussion. This ignores the important roles between 1945 and 1975 of Lumitype/Photon, Monotype (Monophoto), Linotype (Linofilm) and Compugraphic.]
fig. 13.15 Herb Lubalin, U&lc;, 1973.
“The strengths of the publication [U&lc;] were also its limitations, since it used only ITC faces….”
[The excitement of U&lc; did not depend on its faces, even if they were a refreshing change from the late 1960s diet of Helvetica, Helvetica, Helvetica, more Helvetica and maybe a dose of Palatino. Other designers and firms quickly copies their tall x-height, Victorian/Edwardian aesthetic—most effectively Les Usherwood of TSI—but they failed to reach the same level of success and fame. It was Lubalin’s typography and art direction, coupled with an emphasis on two other unfashionable elements—“Spencerian” lettering and illustration—that gave U&lc; its jolt. Lubalin could have taken any typeface and reached the same results, but he didn’t because U&lc; was a promotional vehicle for ITC fonts first and a design magazine second.]
fig. 13.16 Hermann Zapf, Optima, 1958.
“Optima was extremely useful in phototypesetting because its robust characters could be adequately reproduced even when conditions were not ideal.”
[This was not Zapf’s view. He thought that phototype diminished Optima since its subtle stroke endings became overly visible when enlarged. Optima is a delicate face—even its medium and bold versions—and to make that delicacy hold up under the rigors of photocomposition all sorts of tricks had be used (such as cutting slots into crotches and adding “daggers” to the corners of stem endings. ]
fig. 13.17 Phototype and Letraset, 1960s.
[There is no distinction between the Phototype and Letraset in the discussion of the typefaces shown. They are all from Letraset and most are from the 1970s. Countdown by Colin Brignall was created in 1965; Baby Teeth by Milton Glaser was designed in 1968; Zipper by Philip Kelly was issued in 1970; Shatter by Vic Carless was a Letragraphica face, a range begun in 1970; Block Up by Sally Ann Grover was designed in 1974; and Sunshine I can’t pin down.]
[Chapter 13 completely ignores record album covers, surely one of the most influential areas of graphic design in the 1960s and 1970s. Those who did innovative and memorable work include in the United States and England: Milton Glaser, Bob Berg, Gerard Huerta, Paula Scher, Peter Blake, Klaus Voormann, R. Crumb, Lee Conklin, Andy Warhol, Reid Miles, S. Neil Fujita, Tony Lane, Hipnosis, Paul Bacon, Bob Cato, and others, some very unknown like Gut who is credited with the design of Volunteers of America. It was during the late 1960s and early 1970s that the idea of branding became popular in music with the Chicago logo (the first for a rock band?), the Rolling Stones “tongue”, the Santana logo and the artful aesthetics of CTI and ECM.]
pp. 298–299 Timeline
[Why are the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin included but not that of Jim Morrison?]
fig. 14.2 William Longhauser, “The Language of Miohael Graves,” exhibition poster, 1983.
[The image is too small. The title for the poster is in quotation marks but previously similar titles have been italicized.[
p. 302 “The ‘no-logo’ movement gained popularity as a backlash and a platform for progressive reform.”
[The chapter is dedicated to the “1970s, 1980s and beyond” (my italics) so the inclusion of the no-logo movement qualifies but a statement such as this makes it sound as if the movement began in the 1970s not in the late 1990s. Naomi Klein (who coined the term is not mentioned in the book, not even in the timeline to Chapter 14.]
fig. 14.4b Studio Dumbar, performance poster, 1987.
[The title should be “Studio Dumbar, Nina Weiner and Dancers performance poster, 1987.”]
[This is the only example of Dutch design from 1930 to the present.]
fig. 14.13 Paula Scher, Swatch poster, 1985.
“Scher’s design for the popular watch brand Swatch took Herbert Matter’s well-known 1934 Swiss travel poster as its source.”
[Unfortunately, Matter’s poster is not included in the book—none of his Swiss travel posters are—so newcomers to graphic design history who are the most likely buyers of this book will have no idea what Scher is trying to achieve with her parody. Tthe text fails to fully explain her thinking or why the poster became a lightning rod for critics who found much of 1980s American graphic design to be the equivalent of rummaging around in the “big closet” of design history.]
fig. 14.15a Tibor Kalman, Florent, 1988.
[The image is too small.]
fig. 14.17 Bill Texas, Adbusters, Jonathan Barnbrook, guest art director, 2001.
[Is the designer Texas or Barnbrook? More significantly, Kalle Lasn, the founder of the magazine is not mentioned anywhere in the book.]
p. 316 “The difficulty of working within and against corporate and commodity culture is a dilemma for most designers.”
[This is a very debatable statement. It principally applies to the elite strata of designers who used to read Emigre, are members of AIGA (or the equivalent professional design organization in other first world countries), read Eye, and write for Design Observer. (I am guilty of the first three.) The great majority of graphic designers are oblivious to such philosophical and moral concerns.]
fig. 14.18 Attik Noise, “Analytical Experiments in Graphic Science,” 1998.
[Quotation marks or italics for the “poster” title? More importantly, what is this design about? The text does not explain who Attik Noise is/are, why this was designed, who it was designed for, or even whether it is a poster, advertisement, spread from a magazine, spread from a catalogue or brochure….]
p. 317 “By the 1980s, graphic design was no longer predominantly static composition of advertising, packaging and editorial design but was moving into special effects, animation, film, television, and music video graphics….”
[I would suggest that this was not true until the late 1980s or even early 1990s when software programs such as QuickTime and AfterEffects became available. There were earlier forays into moving graphics by Saul Bass, Pablo Ferrer, Robert Brownjohn, the Eameses, Bruno Munari, George Maciunas of Fluxus (who was the group’s graphic designer), and others.]
fig. 14.21b Oliviero Toscani, Benetton ad, 1992.
[The text does not state explicitly that this is the image of a man with AIDS on his deathbed and the image is so small the sores on his face are not very visible.]
pp. 320–321 Timeline
“1972 Venturi, Izanour, and Scott-Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas published.”
[“Izanour” should be “Izenour”. The first names of all of the authors should be provided—the naming practice is inconsistent throughout the timelines.]
fig. 15.1 SEND cover, 1983.
“Before Apple sold desktop computers, digital tools were adopted by experimental artists.”
[This implies that Apple did not sell computers before 1983 when, as the Chapter 15 timeline points out, they sold the Apple I in 1976 and the Apple II in 1977. If there were experimental artists using digital tools before this then they should be named and the dates of their works given.]
fig. 15.3 Jeffrey Keedy, art director, Fast Forward, 1993.
[“Jeffrey” should be “Jeffery”]
[The image is too small to read the text by William Gibson which is a crucial aspect of the design.]
fig. 15.10b Lucas de Groot, Jesus Loves You, 1995.
[The title should be “Luc(as) de Groot, Jesus Loves You type specimen, 1995.” He spells his name in this unusual manner and his wishes should be respected. The fact that this is a type specimen should be pointed out since the name of the typeface is very unusual and may be misinterpreted as a headline,]
“The outrageous expressivity of these letterforms… would have been inconceivable in any other medium.”
[This is a very broad claim that ignores the alphabetic experiments of Imre Reiner, Arnold Bank and Carl Kurtz—all done on paper or canvas.]
fig. 15.10d Multiple master fonts, 1991.
[The title should be “Adobe, Multiple Master fonts, 1991.” Minion would have been a better choice than Myriad for the image since it added an optical axis to the standard axes of width and weight that were already manipulable digitally since the early 1970s with URW’s Ikarus system. Robert Slimbach and Carol Twombly, the designers of Myriad, are not mentioned.]
fig. 15.18 Stefan Sagmeister, AIGA poster, 1999.
[The title should be “Stefan Sagmeister, AIGA Detroit poster, 1999.” since AIGA by itself implies the national organization rather than one of its numerous regional chapters. April Greiman’s groundbreaking and, to some, shocking poster/magazine for DQ 133 (Design Quarterly) 1986 is not in this book and it would have made a perfect companion to the Sagmeister poster. It should at least have been mentioned in the text or timeline.]
pp. 340–341 Timeline
[Here and in the main text the following important companies, software programs and hardware are missing: Xerox PARC, Ikarus, Hell, Monotype Lasercomp, Freehand, Font Studio, Fontographer, Letterror’ random fonts, OpenType, and Type GX.]
p. 342 “American Regionalism is an artistic movement that focused on rural or local imagery and often expressed agrarian cultural values as an answer to the modern world of industrial and urban development.”
[This definition needs the addition of dates, names and geographical location.]
p. 344 “blackletter a heavy and angular manuscript hand that developed in the 12th and 13th centuries; a model for early German printing types, such as Fraktur that came to be associated with the German language and printing traditions and were revived by the Nazis.”
[Blackletter was the model for many early printing types besides Fraktur and those used by German printers. Textura was the model for Gutenberg’s B-42 type as well as for types cut and used in France, England and Holland. Bastarda was the model for the earliest Flemish (and English) types. Rotunda was the model for types used by German (Peter Schoeffer among others), Italian and Swiss printers. Schwabacher was the model for types in German-speaking countries. Fraktur was a calligraphic style developed in the early 16th century and was largely, though not entirely, limited to use in German-speaking countries. Civilité was the model for a unique nationalist French type. The Nazis revival of blackletter emphasized textura more than Fraktur. Blackletter never went away in Germany until the defeat of the Germany in World War II. It was still strong in the 1920s—at the same time that the Bauhaus and the new typography were inveighing against it as nationalistic. See the work of Rudolf Koch.]
[There is no entry for coated paper.]
p. 345 “commercial art any visual work done for money or to serve a client’s interests, usually in contrast to fine art or work done on the initiative of an artist.”
[This fails to separate out graphic design and commercial art and it leaves many examples of fine art up in the air such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling that was done for a client and that served his interests.]
p. 346 “cursive a script with rounded, looped forms, often with letters joined within words and made by hand in a continuous motion without raising the writing instrument from the paper or breaking letters into individual strokes.“
[This is an overly narrow definition that leaves out a huge swath of Western writing from ancient Rome to the present. Here is Stan Knight’s definition from Historical Scripts (2nd ed., 1998): “Cursive In calligraphy, an informal script written quickly, often with joins (eg. Chancery Cursive); everyday handwriting. Latin, curso, ‘to run’.” This definition focuses on speed more than continuity as it should.]
p. 347 “ductal”
[The noun ductus is more commonly found in lettering and calligraphy literature and should have been in the glossary instead of the adjective.]
p. 348 “fat face type with very wide downstrokes that give letters a dramatically chunky appearance.”
[This is an awkward definition that sidesteps the usual emphasis on stroke contrast. By focusing on downstrokes it applies a calligraphic terminology to a non-calligraphic type style. Some dates, names, etc. should be provided.]
p. 348 “Egyptian (type) faces with square or slab serifs.”
[This definition ignores the important differences between 19th c. Egyptians and 20th c. square-serif types that go beyond the appearance of serifs. No names, dates, etc. are provided.]
[There are no entries for Clarendon and Ionic.]
p. 349 “Gothic (type) sans serif faces, often heavy.”
[Why capitalize Gothic—when talking about type—but not grotesque? Using lowercase helps to separate gothic type from Gothic art and culture. There is no cross-reference to grotesque below and there is no indication that these terms are unique to certain nationalities.]
p. 349 “grotesque (type) sans serif faces, often heavy.”
[This is far too brief a description. There is no mention of the fact that light grotesques exist, that the Germans spell the word “Grotesk”, that it is a British term while Americans use the term “gothic” to describe the same style of letter; that there are neo-grotesques, and that there are categories of sans serifs that are not grotesques/gothics. There are no entries for neo-grotesque, geometric sans serif, humanist sans serif—or sans serif. No dates, names, etc. are provided.]
p. 350 “half-uncials rounded letterforms with developed extension of ascenders or descenders beyond the x-height and baseline; the first minuscule.”
[This is awkwardly written. There is a question whether or not half-uncial was the first minuscule (a letter with an accompanying majuscule) or simply the first 4-line majuscule (ascender line, x-height line, baseline and descender line). Michelle P. Brown does not refer to it as a minuscule while Knight says, “Some of its letterforms are similar to those used in later minuscule scripts.” No time frame or geographic location is provided.]
[There is no entry for Carolingian or Caroline minuscule which is more influential vis a vis graphic designers today than half-uncials.]
[There is no entry for Fraktur. This is a serious omission since the Germans use the term in two ways: to refer to the four basic blackletter types (textura, rotunda, schwabacher and fraktur) and to refer to fraktur alone. It is not entirely clear which definition Drucker and McVarish have been using in Graphic Design: A Critical History. I have assumed the latter in my comments.]
p. 351 “International Typographic Style an approach todesign premised on the conviction that formal choices and effects could be governed by rational principles that transcended historical and cultural frameworks.”
[This is too vague. The same definition could easily be applied to the new typography. A timeframe, geographic range, some names of prominent practitioners, and concise descriptions of distinctive features are needed. It should be distinguished from the Swiss Style and the Basel Style (there are prominent Swiss designers who take these distinctions very seriously.)]
p. 352 “Linotype a mechanized process of setting type with the aid of a keyboard and casting it in lines of type.”
[This definition and the similar one for Monotype below are problematic. Each term can refer to a company, a group of related companies, a machine that composes type mechanically, a method of composing type mechanically, or the results of that composition using that machine. Thus Linotype can refer to Mergenthaler Linotype, English Linotype or Linotype GmbH depending upon the context; to all three companies which shared some type designs and technological knowledge; to the Linotype machine; to linotype composition, and to linotype. A definition that encompasses or subsumes these different situations might be: Linotype is the name for lines of type cast as slugs on the Linotype machine. The machine, invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1886 and sold by Mergenthaler Linotype in the United States, English Linotype in England and Linotype GmbH in Germany, consists of a keyboard for inputting copy, a magazine housing matrices, and a pot of lead for casting the chosen mats as slugs rather than individual letters.
p. 353 “mechanicals finished artwork (including text, images, layouts, and so on) that has been prepared to be photographed for reproduction; so-called perhaps, because they were made using a straight-edge and other precision instruments; also, distinguished from the creative process and thus deemed to be the mere (mechanical) execution of a piece of artwork.”
[The term mechanical has nothing to do with the use of straight-edges or other precision tools in its creation. Mechanicals or mechs are the shortened name for what was originally called in the early 20th c. mechanical art. Mechanical art is art that exists solely to serve as a step in the printing process. It thus differs from original art which is needed as its source and the printed piece that it helps give birth to. The distinction is not between fine art and mechanical art since the original art leading to mechanical art can be anything as long as it is line and not tone: lettering, proofed type, decorations, diagrams or illustrations, photographs (if converted to line art via a screen or cross-screen), and paste-ups (assemblies of any two or more of these items on a board). Mechanical art is flat art and it must be photographed to be converted to a zinc plate mounted on a type-high block for letterpress printing or to a film neg to be used to burn a plate for offset printing. Thus, woodcuts, linocuts, engravings or etchings are not mechanical art because can be printed from without any photographic intervention.]
[There is an entry for moderne is an entry but none for Art Deco or Art Nouveau.]
p. 354 “minuscule lowercase letters.”
[This definition conflates a paleographical/calligraphic term with a typographical one. Minuscules are four-line letters (ascender, waist, baseline and descender) descended from majuscules which are two-line letters (cap and baseline). Both minuscules and lowercase are small letters (as opposed to capitals). The dates when minuscules emerged from majuscules should be noted.]
p. 354 “Monotype in printing technology, a mechanized process of setting type with the aid of a keyboard and casting it one letter or character at a time; in print-making, a one-off impression taken from a plate or block.”
[See the comments on the definition for Linotype.]
p. 355 “die neue typographie in German, new typography; a name coined in the late 1920s for a modern approach to typography and layout that embraced standardization and promoted asymmetrical dynamism and the use of sans serif type; associated with designer Jan Tschichold whose writings outlined its princples.”
[This definition is not adequate. It leaves out the fact that the term was coined by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in 1923 [not the late 1920s] and that among its main principles was an opposition to decoration and the non-functional use of non-alphanumeric type material and a belief in design as a social force.]
p. 356 “palimpsest a document that records a series of texts, one written over another, that may show through.”
[This definition does not make it clear that each text of a palimpsest is written not on top of a preceding text but on top of the same piece of parchment that text was on prior to being scraped off. The layered texts only show through because the scraping has not been carefully done or the accumulation of dirt over the centuries has settled into the subtle indentations created by the pressure involved in writing.]
p. 357 “PMT (photo-mechanical transfer) a technology used to test color separations or preview a design before going to press….”
[This is a description of a color-key not a PMT.]
[“PMT stands for Photo Mechanical Transfer, and it works like this: The “negative” is photosensitive paper. After being exposed, it is placed in contact with “receiver” paper, and both sheets are fed into an inexpensive processor. After 30 seconds, they are separated, and the receiver paper is the pseudo stat. But because diffusion-transfer has so completely overwhelmed the conventional photostat, and because the result is so much the same, most of us use the term “stat” to describe a PMT, or one of the other competitive products on the market from vendors other than Kodak.” http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3065/is_/ai_6802098]
p. 360 “rotunda any of many Medieval and Renaissance round hands, associated with humanistic writing and used as models for type designs.”
[This definition continues to conflate the blackletter rotunda with the humanist bookhand or antiqua. See my complaints above. Paleographer Michelle P. Brown of the British Library uses the terms Littera Gothica Textualis Rotunda Bononiensis (Italian Bolognese Gothic Book Script) to describe “gothic rotunda”. It is a mouthful and not useful to the lay person. Calligrapher and amateur paleographer Stan Knight uses rotunda to describe southern European Gothic (Medieval) book hands. Brown uses the term Humanistic Book Script to describe the round letters of Renaissance Humanist and provides three terms used by them: Littera Humanistica Textualis, Littera Antiqua, and Lettera Antica. Knight uses Humanist bookhand. His terms are simpler and thus reflect calligraphic practice and needs as well as paleographic scholarship. There is only one rotunda—and it is not perfectly round.]
p. 360 “serifs small cross-lines at the end of the strokes of a letter; any variation thereof.”
[This definition is too brief and vague. Serifs need not be cross-lines; they are finishing strokes (usually small) at the end of strokes and may be cupped, bracketed, unbracketed, hairlines, filleted, beaked, spurred, curled, bifurcated, etc. The word is believed to come from the Dutch schrijf (small stroke).]
p. 362 “textura a tightly written manuscript hand or typeface with narrowly spaced strokes, suggestive of a woven pattern; condensed blackletter hands.”
[This definition is insufficient. It does not adequately distinguish textura (short for textura quadrata) from other Medieval hands with these characteristics such as textus prescissus ( textura sine pedibus). Textura has minims, small diamond-shaped strokes that start and finish (where they are often called “feet” but never serifs) vertical strokes. Sine pedibus means “no feet”. Dates should be included.
p. 363 “Tuscan (type) display faces with ornate, often floral, decorations and split serifs.”
[The floral decoration is not an essential aspect of Tuscan typefaces. More important are the frequent presence of small thorns
at the mid-height of strokes. Although it means the same thing, bifurcated is the more common adjective used to describe the distinctive serifs. Tuscan can refer to 19th c. and later lettering bearing these features as well. (The same is true of the terms Egyptian, Fat Face, and Grotesque.]
[There is no entry for Latin (types).]
[There are no entries for rubylith, photostat, linocut, Pantone, process color, zinc(o), keyline, paste-up, Mayline, airbrush, ruling pen, Rapidograph, Letraset, and transfer lettering, including many of the items in the Tools of the Trade lists at the end of each chapter.]
p. 365 “Titles of works used in more than one chapter are not repeated after the first listing.”
[Historical Scripts by Stan Knight and Latin Paleography by Bernard Bischoff appear in the lists for both Chapters 2 and 3; Five Hundred Years of Printing by S.H. Steinberg appears in the list for Chapter 3 and the General Bibliography at the end.]
“Goudy, Fredric” should be “Goudy, Frederic”
[The bibliography is heavily Anglo-centric. There are only six non-English books: 1 in French and 2 in German; and 2 translated from German and 1 translated from French.]
[The index to Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide does not include items from either the Timelines or Tools of the Trade lists.]
[Throughout Graphic Design: A Critical History the birth and death dates of individuals are not provided and rarely are their nationalities mentioned.]
Michael Dooley is the first to post a comment to Blue Pencil. He accidentally posted to the wrong part of the blog and has asked me to place his contribution here. Welcome aboard, Michael.
p. 283, fig.13.3b Herb Lubalin, Eros, 1962
Eros volume 1, number 3, 1962 did have a cover story on Marilyn, but what’s actually shown is a cover story spread from Avant Garde, issue 2, March 1968. Dead giveaway: square format.
JANUARY 11, 2009 6:49 PM