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Making Histories: Top 10 Graphic Designers or Pieces to Showcase the History of Graphic Design

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

Following a lecture on historiography and making histories, I was prompted to consider the top ten graphic designers I would choose if asked to put together an exhibition on the history of graphic design.

1. Max Miedinger

This man is the man behind arguably the most famous typeface ever created, Helvetica, formerly known as Neue Haas Grotesk when it was first completed in 1957. Its neutrality, timelessness and legibility make it a modernist favourite, and its omnipresence is unsurprising.

2. Stefan Sagmeister

This graphic designer and typographer is known for his conceptual and intriguing work and has developed a reputation for controversy. In his most famous poster, as part of a series of posters for the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), Sagmeister asked an intern to cut all the text onto his own torso with an craft knife and photograph the result. Its aim was to express the pain often endured during design projects, and is exemplary of his striking style.

3. Jessica Walsh

Jessica Walsh is the cofounder of creative agency Sagmeister & Walsh, amongst her most well known projects are her 2013 and 2016 collaborations with designer Timothy Goodman, titled "40 Days of Dating" and "12 Kinds of Kindness", documenting their quest for love and kindness respectively, through illustration and design.

4. David Carson

Best known for being the art director of music and lifestyle magazine 'Ray Gun', Carson was the most influential graphic designer of the 90's, with his experimental style of typography, grunge typography, kickstarting a new era of design.

5. Neville Brody

English designer, typographer and art director Neville Brody became famous for his art direction of The Face magazine between 1981 and 1986, and Arena magazine (1987-1990).

Brody also founded Research Studios and famously redesigned The Times in November 2006, with the creation of a new font, Times Modern, and the BBC's website in September 2011.

6. Paula Scher

Said to be the most influential female graphic designer alive, Paula Scher has worked for MOMA, New York City Ballet, Microsoft and NYC Transit, and is a partner at Pentagram. Among some of her most recognisable pieces of work are her incredible typographic maps. One such example is her 'Philadelphia Explained' instillation .

7. Milton Glaser

Glaser is most famous for the logo he designed for New York to promote tourism in the city in 1977, the I ❤ NY logo that covers tourism vendors across the city.

8. Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher is one of the founding partners of Pentagram. His works range from illustration to typography to logo design, and his timeless logo for London's V&A museum, designed in 1989, it's still going strong.

9. Michael Beirut

As another partner of Pentagram, some of Beirut's projects include identity and branding for Benetton, the New York Jets, Walt Disney and design work on Billboard magazine.

He also published How To: in 2015, a widely known book on graphic design.

10. Saul Bass

Saul Bass was an American graphic designer and Academy Award -winning filmmaker, best known for his design of motion-picture title sequences, film posters and corporate logos. One of his best known logos is AT&T globe logo, which he designed in 1983, and his film posters carry a strong design theme of bold colours and simplified shapes.


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