And thus it begins … (continues?)

“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.” –Paul Rand
(http://www.andrewkeir.com/40-creative-quotes/)

Does a history ever actually begin, or just continue? I guess a History Class has finite limits in Time. Ask me in about 12 weeks.

I am so-o-o glad we are not using the Third Edition of A History of Graphic Design by Philip B. Meggs. I checked it out of the library while waiting for Amazon to deliver my own (horribly expensive) text. The illustrations were fascinating at first glance. On the second look, I noticed how illustration changed from the organic lines of the cave paintings of Lascaux to modern digitized perfect and angular lines. (More advanced tools don’t necessarily improve a craft.) On the third viewing, I realized (duh!) that a LOT of illustrations were in black and white (for example, page 270: ” 17-31. Theo van Doesburg, composition XI, 1918. In a careful balancing of rectangles of primary color on a white field …” Color? What color?)

Then Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, Fifth Edition, arrived. More color, better color. (Digitized color printing cheaper?) Still too many black and white photos of color work, but fewer than in previous editions. Before buying any more art texts, I think I’ll hold out for the holographic editions that allow perfect reproduction of color and texture and views from all sides. Then I’ll hop in my hover car and fly by the nearest museum ..

I can see how recording any history objectively and completely would be impossible. I doubt I could even recreate one hour of my own day in my own living room fully, much less the entire history of a genre. Still, I miss some of the deleted illustrations from the Third Edition.

None of the prefaces quite answered the question, “What is graphic design?” Every art class seems to address the “What is Art?” dilemma. Enquiring minds need to know. What is “graphic design”? Is graphic design solely for communication? Must it be reproducible to be graphic design? Can it be merely decorative? How does it differ from fine art? Is “graphic design” a real genre, or just a convenient category for discussion? what are we talking about here?

It’s  a mystery.

At least I didn’t accidentally return my new text instead of the old edition to the library after all. Things must be looking up.

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