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Home » The Origin of Design » Week 2 Graphic Design in Modern and Historical Era

Week 2 Graphic Design in Modern and Historical Era



In the second meeting for The Origin of Design class, we were struggling for a deeper topic about design. The topic discussed in the class is about the connections between Graphic Design in Modern and Historical era. Instead of it, we also analyzed artifacts from a sociocultural perspective and a graphic Renaissance – origins of European typography and design for printing. We also talked about design within the Western and Eastern cultures, such K-Pop culture in South of Korea. The most brain-catching idea for me is knowing the difference of graphic design in historical era and nowadays. That is why, I want to know more about that and put my ideas and point of view in this post.


UntitledPeople may find typography everywhere, anywhere, and anytime. It has been with human since characters were found in ancient era, Mesopotamian cities of Uruk and Larsa. Time by time, typography developed from simple form into diverse forms. There are four main classes of type, they are old style (derived from Roman letters cut in stone), modern (with a thin straight line for serif), square serif (use straight thick line), and sans serif (formed with lines of approximately even thickness and having no serifs).

In traditional typography, text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader. Even distribution of typeset material, with a minimum of distractions and anomalies, is aimed at producing clarity and transparency. This traditional typography were found mostly in textbook, newspaper, or commercial writing.



2013 – Year of the Snake by David McLeod

Nowadays, contemporary typography exist against the monotony of traditional typography. As the picture beside, 2013 is written in modern typography. Why 2013 must be written in that style? That’s what designer do. They want to convey message through their work in different way. So that, the audience must be able read it in different way too. The meaning conveyed within that picture is the year 2013 is the year of the snake. The chosen of design concept reflected a modern, universal method of communication. This design concept assumes perception from Ancient Chinese Science what Chinese called as Hockey.

Talked about the hallmark of contemporary typography, 2013 typography images proved that it is using sans-serif typeface. Even though the 2013 is having decorative art within it (the snake’s head and tail), sans serif forms pleasing and easily distinguished word patterns. Its simplicity, the even weight of its lines, and its nicely balanced proportions are eligible audience to read it easily. Apart from ‘form follows function‘, David McLeod, the designer could achieve typography that expresses the spirit of modern man – absolve the creativity of viewing.

In conclusion, contemporary typography has four main characteristics mentioned: design concept reflected a modern, assumes perception or the designer’s point of view; the using of sans serif typeface; its object put in the typography that has visible form out of the functions of the text; has model of vision interpreted message.



Kibbee, W: “Modern Trends in Typography”, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, page 218. 1948.

Zelman, S: “Looking into Space”, Graphic Design and Readings of an Uneasy Relationship, edited by Swanson G., page 53. Altworth Press, 2000.


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