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People who Changed Graphic Design forever

Mon, Nov 9, 2009

Home, Inspiration

In the modern day world, it is hard to deny the presence of Graphic design in our daily lives. Graphic design is everywhere, in every package and product of the modern world. It fills every walking moment of our day. Although the graphic design discipline was introduced less than a century ago, the world has since come to rely upon it. The introduction of new technologies and softwares in the field of Graphic Design has made life easier for Graphic Designers; however, it wasn’t the case some decades ago. The lack of computer technologies inspired to creativity and resulted in some of the most remarkable designs and innovations. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the people who played an important role in setting the principles of modern day Graphic Design. Here is a list of people who are considered as the most influencial; in other words, true legends of the Graphic Design industry.

Charles Csuri (Father of Computer Graphics)

Charles Csuri

Charles Csuri was known as the father of computer graphics. Also known as Chuck Csuri, he is a pioneer in the field of computer art and a former All American college football player.In 1964 he experimented with computer graphics technology and the following year, he started making computer graphic films. His research into computer animation and graphics has won him international reknown. With support from the National Science Foundation, the Navy and the Air force Office Scientific research, over 22 years he directed research into computer graphics with computer science graduates. The results of this research have been widely used e.g. in flight simulators,computer-aided design, magnetic resonance imaging,architecture and special effects. Many well known animation films, like Star Wars and Toy Story, have had graduates from his program working on them.

Hummingbird II, 1969, Charles A. Csuri

Hummingbird II, 1969, Charles A. Csuri

Wondrous Spring, 1992, Charles A. Csuri

Wondrous Spring, 1992, Charles A. Csuri

Charles Csuri’s Official Website

Thomas Knoll (One of the Original Creators of Photoshop)

Thomas Knoll

What can we  say about Thomas Knoll? He is the man who wrote Photoshop with the help of his brother John. Little did they know back then, that together they would create a software application that would forever change the way the world creates design, photography, and art. Without them, this certainly would be an empty room right now, and the visual aspects of the communication age would be vastly different, and certainly much less exciting and dramatic than it is today. It was Thomas Knoll who took his high-school hobby of photography, (where he learned the art of color, balance, and contrast in his father’s basement darkroom), and turned it into a program that now touches millions of lives every day. In the fall of 1987, Thomas Knoll, a doctoral candidate in computer vision, was trying to write–as a diversion from his doctoral–computer code to display grayscale images on a black-white bitmap monitor. Because it wasn’t directly related to his thesis on computer vision, Knoll thought it had limited value at best. The code was called Display. Knoll wrote it on his Mac Plus computer at home. Little did he know that this initial code would be the very beginning of the phenomenon that would be known as Photoshop.

The Original Photoshop 1.0 Box & Disk

The Original Photoshop 1.0 Box & Disk

Thomas and John Knoll on Photoshop News

John Knoll (Brother of Thomas Knoll, Creator of Photoshop)

John Knoll

John Knoll (born 1962) is an Academy-award winning Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). One of the original creators of Adobe Photoshop (along with his brother, Thomas), he is recently best known for his work as Visual Effects Supervisor on the Star Wars prequels and the 1997 special editions of the original trilogy. He also served as ILM’s visual effects supervisor for Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact, as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Knoll was also the Computer Graphics Project Designer on The Abyss, an achievement which earned ILM its tenth Academy Award for Visual Effects. Knoll is the son of former college professor Glenn Knoll.  It was Glenn who had photographic and computer interests that sparked his sons’ curiosities. Knoll spent most of his childhood building models and making clay animation films in the family basement (their father’s darkroom) as a hobby.


The Photoshop 1 splash screen

Thomas and John Knoll on Photoshop News

Jan Tschichold (Author of “The New Typography; A Handbook for Modern Designers”)

Jan Tschichold

Jan Tschichold is one of the most outstanding and influential typographers of the 20th century. He was a master in his field, worked as a teacher, wrote a number of books, designed typefaces, and worked his entire life as designer and writer. Jan Tschichold codified the principles of modern typography in his 1928 book, New Typography. He pioneered production techniques and stylistic devices used throughout the twentieth century. Influenced by the new Bauhaus typography, Jan Tschichold began to use serifless typefaces and designed simplified layouts. In a special 1925 issue of “typographische mitteilungen” entitled “elementare typographie”, Jan Tschichold introduced in the form of theses the most important approaches to the new typography design. He worked for several publishers in Basel and taught at the School for the Applied Arts. In 1946 Jan Tschichold went to London, where he was art director at Penguin Books until 1949. In 1950 he returned to Switzerland. Between 1955 and 1967 Jan Tschichold worked as a design consultant for the Basel pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche. Books written by Jan Tschichold, “Die neue Typografie” (1928) and “Typografische Gestaltung” (1935), expound the fundamentals of modern typography.

Franz Roh: aenne biermann – 60 fotos c1930 designed by Jan Tschichold

Franz Roh: aenne biermann – 60 fotos c1930 designed by Jan Tschichold

Paul Rand (Legendary Graphic Designer)

Paul Rand

Paul Rand is arguably the most famous American graphic designer of the twentieth century. He is the designer responsible for some of the most recognizable and lasting logos in the world, including the logos for IBM, Apple and ABC. Rand’s prodigious career began early. In his twenties he achieved international recognition for his skill at page layout and cover design. In the 1950s and 1960s his reputation continued to grow with his corporate logo designs, most notably the logo for IBM, which, after fifty-three years, is still in use. Rand believed that, in order for a design to maintain a lasting and useful impact, it must be “designed with the utmost simplicity and restraint.” During his fifty-plus year career, Paul Rand not only designed logos, magazine covers and posters, but he also authored several books on graphic design, including Thoughts On Design (1947), A Designer’s Art (1985) and From Lascaux to Brooklyn (1996).

Some of the Logo Designs by Paul Rand

Some of the Logo Designs by Paul Rand


Flickr Pool of Paul Rand’s Work

William Golden (One of the Pioneers of American Graphic Design)

William Golden

William Golden (March 31, 1911October 23, 1959) is considered to be one of the pioneers of American graphic design. He is best known for his work at Columbia Broadcasting System, starting in the CBS Radio promotion department (before broadcast television existed) and culminating in his tenure as creative director of advertising and sales promotion for CBS Television Network. Golden gained a reputation of excellence by always striving for a perfect, simple solution to the problem at hand, producing an original and distinguished design to convey the message. William Golden applied new ideas, forms, and methods to the world of advertising and promotional graphics. The body of his work endures as a milestone in the history of graphic design. Providing a map of uncharted territory, Golden’s program of promotional advertising and identity design for CBS was innovative and set a standard of excellence which has endured over the years. He was among a distinguished group of pioneers in the post-World War II era who gave shape to the emerging field of graphic design.

Designer William Golden with his new "eye design" logo for CBS

Designer William Golden with his new "eye design" logo for CBS

American Institute for Graphic Arts tribute

Edmund Arnold (Father of Modern Newspaper Design)

Edmund Arnold

Edmund Arnold,  known by many as the “Father of Modern Newspaper Design,” died at 93. He was a typographer, editor and a founder of the Society for News Design. He worked with hundreds of newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, the Boston Globe, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the National Observer, the Toronto Star, the Kansas City Star, El Vocero and El Mundo in San Juan. He received the George Polk Memorial Award in 1957 for his contribution to American journalism through typographic redesign. In 1960 he joined the School of Journalism at Syracuse University, where he headed the graphic arts department. Almost unheard of in the academic world, he was named a full professor despite having no previous formal teaching experience and despite having only a bachelor’s degree (Michigan State, 1954). When describing the state of news design in an interview at the time he was honored, Arnold said: “I want to put on record that I’m not an old reprobate longing for a return of the good old days. I’m more of an old father who is disappointed that his kids are only reaching 98 percent of their potential and wants them to reach 101 percent. My message to young designers is this: Look kids, you can do better, but the only way to achieve your potential is to go back to – and understand – the basics. That sounds boring, but it’s reality.”

Newspaper consultant Edmund Arnold makes a point during the July 1978 newspaper design workshop at API

Newspaper consultant Edmund Arnold makes a point during the July 1978 newspaper design workshop at API

Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame

Milton Glaser (Creator of I ♥ NY Logo)

Milton Glaser

For many, Milton Glaser is the personification of American graphic design.  He is best known for co-founding New York Magazine, the enduring I ♥ NY campaign, his “Bob Dylan” poster, the “DC bullet” logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the “Brooklyn Brewery” logo. He also founded New York Magazine with Clay Felker in 1968. Glaser’s work is characterized by directness, simplicity and originality. He uses any medium or style to solve the problem at hand. His style ranges wildly from primitive to avant garde in his countless book jackets, album covers, advertisements and direct mail pieces and magazine illustrations. He started his own studio, Milton Glaser, Inc, in 1974. This led to his involvement with an increasingly wide diversity of projects, ranging from the design of New York Magazine, of which he was a co-founder, to a 600 foot mural for the Federal Office Building in Indianapolis. Throughout his career he has had a major impact on contemporary illustration and design. His work has won numerous awards from Art Directors Clubs, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators and the Type Directors Club. In 1979 he was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and his work is included in the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Israel Museum and the Musee de l’affiche in Paris. Glaser has taught at both the School of Visual Arts and at Cooper Union in New York City. He is a member of Alliance Graphique International (AGI).

I Love NewYork Logo

I Love NewYork Logo

Bob Dylan Poster

Bob Dylan Poster

Milton Glaser’s Site

Saul Bass (Graphic Designer, Undisputed master of Film Title Design)

Saul Bass

Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a Bronx- born graphic designer who took his New York style to California and became famous for his work in film and classic logo design. He studied in New York at the Art Students’ League as a teenager and developed a unique style that is both recognizable and memorable. Along with his impressive film portfolio, Bass was responsible for creating memorable logos, many of which still exist today. Through his freelance work and with his firm Saul Bass & Associates, he would create identities for companies such as Quaker Oats, AT&T, The Girl Scouts, Minolta, United Airlines, Bell and Warner Communications. In addition, Bass designed the poster for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and several Academy Awards shows. The scope of Bass’s long and prolific career has influenced legions of designers and filmmakers. Saul Bass was not only one of the great graphic designers of the mid-20th century but the undisputed master of film title design thanks to his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Martin Scorsese.

Some of the logo designs by Saul Bass

Some of the logo designs by Saul Bass

Saul Bass on the Web

William Bernbach (Legendary figure in the history of American Advertising)

William Bernbach

William Bernbach (August 13, 1911, New York City – October 2, 1982, New York City) was a legendary figure in the history of American advertising. He was one of the three founders of Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) and directed ad campaigns such as “Think Small” for Volkswagen Beetle (recognized by Advertising Age as the top advertising campaign of the 20th century). Bernbach was noted for his devotion to creativity and offbeat themes, a legacy that has hailed him as a major force behind the Creative Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. He is also credited with being the first to combine copywriters and art directors into two-person teams—they had commonly been in separate departments—a model that still flourishes in advertising agencies today. Other notable campaigns of Bernbach’s are “We Try Harder” (Avis Car Rental), “Mikey” (Life Cereal), “You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love Levy’s” (Levy’s Rye Bread) and “It’s so simple” (Polaroid). The AMC program, Mad Men, which centers on the fictional ad agency of Sterling Cooper in the early 1960s, references Bernbach; Bernbach’s innovative techniques challenge Sterling Cooper’s more orthodox style, and DDB is often mentioned as a competitor in the second season.

Biography on AAF Hall of Fame


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This post was written by:

- who has written 49 posts on Creative Repository.

Abdus Salam is a freelance Graphic, Logo & Web designer, currently graduating in Telecom Engineering. He is passionate about every kind of creative stuff. You can follow him on Twitter or find him on Facebook.

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37 Comments For This Post

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    wow! .. great article
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  2. Richard Rudy Says:

    You forgot Johannes Gutenberg. Moveable type, you could argue he invented Graphic Design or at least made it possible

  3. Bob G. Says:

    That’s a lot of white men, fo’ sho’.

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    No women designers worthy of mentioning? Hard to believe.
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  5. Deja Says:

    Very interesting article, however it is just a few of the many people that influenced graphic design.

  6. Waasys Says:

    None of the influeced as much as Charles Csuri did! Respect this man!
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    Love everyone listed above, especially The Knoll Brother. Photoshop is just awesome.

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