Sabaa Bismil Now Introducing: Pulp Magazines

One area of graphic design that I think Graphic Design: A New History would benefit from including, is that of pulp magazines, specifically from the early 1900s. During that era of increased access and appetite for different genres of print media, the diversity of target audiences necessitated different visual languages. Due to the niche genres involved, many of the stylistic choices and subject matter persisted for a long time, even into the modern era.

Pulp magazines, similarly to the “yellowback” novels of a few decades prior, were considered by critics to be a waste of time, at best, and actively immoral, at worst. They were printed very cheaply, featuring garish and sometimes scandalous illustrations. The design and type lacked the sophistication of more respectable publications. They were also very popular with youths, immigrants, and working-class readers especially.


Rudolph Belarski. Hibiscus and Homicide. Thrilling Detective, New York City, 1947.
Image result for conan queen of the black coast

Margaret Brundage. Queen of the Black Coast. Weird Tales, New York City, 1934.

Pulp magazines were set apart from other print media in how cheap they were- this graininess is visible in the examples shown above, and it reflects the coarse paper they were printed on. The slick, glossy paper of the more high-end publications was out of reach financially for both the pulp publishers and their audiences. Interestingly, pulps also had fewer advertisements than other magazines, probably because their readers were considered too poor to bother marketing to.

Visually, pulp novels share a certain aesthetic. They usually have bright colours, with less of a cohesive brand appearance uniting the issues. The text is bolder than many other magazines of the time, and often employs warping or perspective tricks to add dynamism to the composition. While the printing and design can be crude, it is striking to see how similar they can look to book covers today.

Robert Quackenbush. Missing Ingredient. Astounding Science Fiction, New York City, 1949.

In my opinion, pulp magazines were an important part of lower-income media consumption in the early 1900s. Their ubiquity, cheapness, and popularity makes them interesting cultural artifacts that can be studied in many ways. And while the pulps themselves degraded quickly due to low-quality paper, their effect on modern book cover design is undeniable.

Works Cited:

Benefiel, Candace R. “Shadow of a dark muse: reprint history of original fiction from Weird Tales 1928-1939.” Extrapolation, vol. 49, no. 3, 2008, p. 450+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 08 Apr. 2019.

Smith, Erin A. (Erin Ann). “How the Other Half Read: Advertising, Working-Class Readers, and Pulp Magazines.” Book History, vol. 3, 2000, pp. 204-230. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/bh.2000.0013

Smith, Michelle. “From ‘The Offal of the Magazine Trade’ to ‘absolutely priceless’: considering the Canadian pulp magazine collection.” English Studies in Canada, vol. 30, no. 1, 2004, p. 101+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 08 Apr. 2019.

Stanchak, John E. “Pulp fiction: back in the ’40s, if you could spare a dime, you could dive into the fun, fantasy–and, sometimes, naughtiness–of pulp fiction magazines.” America in WWII, Feb. 2010, p. 44+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 08 Apr. 2019.

Now Introducing: Shepard Fairey

A graphic designer that should be included in the 3rd edition of Graphic Design: A New History is Shepard Fairey. Shepard Fairey is an American street artist and graphic designer (born February 15, 1970) (Britannica Academic). He is one of the most well known street artists.

He is best known for his 2008 “HOPE” poster of Barack Obama for his presidential campaign. His other well known work is his OBEY image. He creates designs that are bold, thought provoking and meaningful. Through his work, he wants the audience to question authority (Caruso, Hwa Young).

As a teenager, Fairey was interested in street art and skateboard culture.
In 1989, he started his sticker campaign which was a portrait of professional wrestler Andre the Giant. This bold, simple stencil design was composed of three colours (white, black, and red), with the word OBEY beneath the image. Fairey sold more than one million copies of the sticker and it quickly gained worldwide attention (Britannica Academic). This design was seen pasted up and spray painted on walls all around the world. However, since the majority of his work was illegal, he was arrested several times for vandalizing public places (Caruso, Hwa Young).

Image result for shepard fairey obey
Iconic obey poster by Shepard Fairey

OBEY ICON Signed Offset Lithograph

In 2008, Fairey designed the iconic “HOPE” poster used for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Fairey had illustrated the image based off a photograph of Obama. He screen printed the illustration and used only 3 colours: blue, red, and white which he used to represent the American flag colours. It became so popular that people all over the world started creating their own versions of the poster. In fact, there is a website created to help you design your own “obama style” poster at

Image result for shepard fairey hope

His bold, simple work takes elements of pop art and soviet constructivism.
Fairey’s campaign poster combined street art and politics. This was something that hadn’t really been done at this level before.

Shepard Fairey’s design not only became one of the most iconic campaign posters, but he also changed the way we see street art and street artists. Fairey was able to use his skills and knowledge from street artist and create designs that became memorable worldwide. His work started off in the streets then to smaller exhibitions then eventually to major galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Berlin,Tokyo, and more (Caruso, Hwa Young). He proved that street art is a valid form of art, and that it could go beyond the streets.

Fairey, along with some other well-known designers and artists such as Banksy, transformed the way street art is seen. Graffiti and street art which was normally seen in alleyway, streets, and other public places was now being displayed in art galleries and museums. Fairey was doing both legal and illegal artwork. He proved that street artists could make it globally.

Image result for obey posters in streets

Obey Giant

“Shepard Fairey.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 Jan. 2017. Accessed 3 Apr. 2019.

Caruso, Hwa Young. “The art of Shepard Fairey: questioning everything.” International Journal of Multicultural Education, vol. 10, no. 2, 2008. Academic OneFile, Accessed 3 Apr. 2019.

Now Introducing: Nam June Paik, the pioneer of video art joining the world of technology to art

Now Introducing: Nam June Paik,

the pioneer of video art joining the world of technology to art

Graphic Design: a New History, written by Stephen Eskilson, introduces the global history of Graphic Design from before the Common Era to modern times experiencing 21st century. Yet, most of the suggested design are adequate for printed media such as posters and paper books descripting only short amount of contemporary art, undergoing rapid changes. Also, Except for Japan’s wood block printing skills, which hugely affected the Art Nouveau era and future art movements, the advancement of design and typography in other section of the world than Europe and America are practically alienated in the context. Understanding the old established history is important though present always become past and printed matters are slowly fading from the center stage of history by new digital machineries such as eBooks and websites shifting its weight to digitalization of design. Keeping up with the times, this article introduces Nam June Paik, the progenitor of Fluxus and the frontier of video art via using a variety of technologies impacting numerous people in the area of art.

Nam June Paik is a video artist and performance artist from South Korea who is the heart of the Fluxus movement, an international group of artist, poets, and musicians whose sole object is to accommodate daily life and art mixing unlimited materials like sound and action, in the 1960s. The Fluxus movement, which derived from “flow” and “effluent” has promptly spread to major German cities such as Berlin and Dusseldorf, and to Europe, the United States and Asia, and their production was basically directed by a utilitarian philosophy of types, method, scale and colors. The movement affected artists in different section of the world like Frenchman Ben Vautrier, Wolf Vostell, and Dick Higgins because of the interaction occurred by travel and exchanges sending postcard collages and small sized mail art to each other. Nam June Paik created a sensation with his avant-garde and empirical performances and has expanded the scope of definition and expression of art. Paik questioned the art arena, which was in an atmosphere of ostracizing digital civilization owing to the authenticity of art in late 20th century and believed that the role of the artists is anguishing for the better future. He is the winner of the Goethe-Medaille and exhibited his work in diverse museums such as Tate Modern, Statens Museum for Kunst, Smithsonian American Art Museum. His representative works are Opera Sextronique (1967), a blend of music, performance and video, TV garden (1974), a first video installation work stacking numerous monitors, and Good Morning, Mr. Orwell (1984).


“Good Morning, Mr Orwell!.” The Allen Ginsberg Project. New York, Korea, Paris, San Fransico. 1984. <>.


Good Morning, Mr. Orwell is the first international satellite installation program lively broadcasted in New York, Paris, and San Francisco. Through the broadcast, Nam June Paik sent refutation to George Orwell who prophesied the domination of mass media over people in his dystopia novel 1984, a novel written in 1949 about a grim future when Big Brother and the totalitarian state regulates society using telecommunications. He attempted to present the right function of mass media through art gathering almost 100 artists who displayed music, art, performance, fashion show and comedy that transcends the boundaries of popular art and avant-garde art. Paik effectively compounded these elements in one video conveying a message to society and art community that the advanced science and digital electronics is not a factor to be excluded and the future of humanity is within the harmony of technology and life.

Even though he is not a typical designer, it is important to understand his achievements and the impact of his work as his trials from Fluxus to laser art aroused the revolution in contemporary art accepting the digital approach as the method and expanded the scope of definition and expression of art creation. Nam June Paik died in January 29th, 2006 in Florida, yet his work remains as the inspiration for installation art and numerous other realms of intermedia design and digital art.


Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii

Park, Nam June. Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995, fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuit television feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel and wood; color, sound, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © Nam June Paik Estate, Gift of the artist, 2002.23




Works Cited

Eskilson, Stephen. Graphic Design: a New History. Yale University Press, 2012.

“Fluxus.” Britannica Academic, Britannica Academic, academic-

Zinman, Gregory1. “Paik’s Virtual Archive: Time, Change, and Materiality in Media Art.” Art Bulletin, vol. 100, no. 2, June 2018, pp. 160–163. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00043079.2018.1447719.

Nam Jun Paik’s Art Centre –

Paik, Nam June. “Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii.” Smithsonian American Art Museum,

Paik, Nam June. “TV Garden.” Guggenheim, 20 Mar. 2019,

Park, Nam June. “The Allen Ginsberg Project – Good Morning, Mr Orwell!” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Oct. 2013,


Missing Perspective: Modern Graphic Design in Korea and China

With such a heavy focus on Japonisme as an ever-present influence in graphic design and art history since the 1850s’, it was surprising to see the absence of East-Asian graphic design done by the people of the culture talked about in detail. There are many graphic designers of Japan and Korea that have influenced each other and created a lineage of design, which was similar in philosophy, yet diverse in visual language. The figures having huge influences in the scene is Satō Kōichi and his student, Chae Byungrok.

Few reasons why Satō Kōichi’s life and his work would have enough to populate a dedicated chapter in a history book is that not only was his work groundbreaking at the time, it embodies philosophies that were transferred and shared ;

The Japanese understanding of nonverbal communication comes from Zen Buddhism, which teaches the use of all five senses in receiving communication, and even states, “silence is communication.” In this tradition, Koichi Sato brings delicate colour motifs and metaphysical forms to his quietly poetic designs (Matthews).


Japanese Theater Poster: Soap Bubbles Floated, They Floated Into Outer Space. Koichi Sato. 1989

Koichi’s design uniquely uses subtle gradients and colour to dominate the poster, and he mentions that this was a uniquely Japanese way to express messages – referencing Japanese culture of communication and Buddhism philosophy.

His legacy carries further with many of his students, but most interesting student comes from abroad – Korea. Chae Byung Rok is a student who worked directly under him in graduate studies and carries a similar goal in his design. While Koichi and Chae both used a variety of different colours, Chae’s work is different in every other way. His work references modern Korea in the medium of computer generated graphics and calculated meshes. His work is unique in the fact that there is a dominating image which takes priority over other text, and when the text takes over, it becomes the imagery. The meticulous use of gradient is seen in his work, which he admits is what motivated him to work under Koichi (In).


The Beauty of Knife Crafting, Poster, 728x1030mm, 2012,  East Asia Graphic Workshop, Poster, 728x1030mm, 2012,

While their work celebrates diversity in visual expressions, their philosophies stem from similar motivations – to interpret their homeland’s culture in the time-sensitive perspective. This is a meaningful movement, and interesting lineage, when national-referential design cross over borders and react differently to people of different backgrounds. Their work in comparison is also significant for its evidence of artists’ effort to stay unique while paying attention to predecessors’ work and philosophies and creating their own path with the movement.

Therefore, their direction of design transcends individual scale of art style and creates a bigger movement of graphic design the readers can point to. I believe that in order to dedicate a chapter for artists, they must have created for a bigger change that was echoed throughout, despite differences in time period, and differences in nationality – all anchored with philosophy or purpose.


Celebration 2014, Poster, 700x990mm, Good Fortune 2014, Poster, 700x990mm, (stripes of many colors, 色動)

The recognition paid to the two, one who passed and one who carries his philosophy, should be a fair counterbalance to such huge attention paid to Japonisme. I felt that while Japonisme definitely is a huge impact in the history of graphic design, similar attention should be paid to, the present influence of visual arts that comes from the culture, and executed by the culture.


In, Hyunjin. “정성으로 빚다, 그래픽 디자이너 채병록.” 정성으로 빚다, 그래픽 디자이너 채병록, Typography Seoul, 21 Sept. 2015,

Matthews, William. “Koichi Sato.” History of Graphic Design,

Now Introducing: James Jean


Now Introducing


James Jean. Imogen Heap cover. Mixed media. 2010.


Fables Cover #99 - by James Jean © | Fables © | Pinterest

James Jean. Fables cover. Mixed media. 2011.

315 Best James Jean images | James jeans, David choe ...

James Jean. Mangchi. Mixed Media. 2014.


James Jean is a contemporary artist with six Eisner awards, who worked with many clients such as Atlantic Records, the New York Times, the Washington Post, amongst many others. He is one of the most sought after artists in today’s world, with his unique vision and style that has influences from traditional Japanese ukiyo-e artists, from Katsushika Hokusai, the artist behind the Great Wave of Kanagawa, to Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Léger 5).

File:The Great Wave off Kanagawa.jpg - Wikipedia

Katsushika Hokusai. Great Wave of Kanagawa.1829.


With his experience in commercial design, as well as his personal work, James Jean is one of the most influential artists of today. With his unique background from Taiwan and then living in America, his style has a mix of both East and West cultural values, creating a fresh look into his graphic and illustrative works. Jean’s previous work in comic art blends uniquely to his more fine art, creating a mix that’s both ‘low-brow’ art and ‘high-art’ (Léger 6). A working artist to this day, James Jean is a modern, contemporary artist that shows how possible it is to be a relevant artist in today’s world while still providing a clear graphical intent with his drawings. He shows how flexible his style can be, switching between a more narrative, illustrative quality and a commercial advertisement cover look. He isn’t afraid to experiment, and revels in his ability to do so.

Browsing through James Jean’s portfolio reveals that a thriving artist in today’s culture and society can have a unique style in approach, with slight influences from previous graphical styles in history. From traditional, to digital, pencil, acrylic, oils, photoshop, Jean proves what it takes to be embracing every medium possible today. With unlimited potential and no restrictions on what or how to illustrate, Jean is one of the finest examples of a contemporary artist that strives to pursue what is meaningful in art and graphic designs alike.




Works Cited


Owens, Annie. Hi-fructose. Last Gasp, London. 2008.


“James Jean.” Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 1 Apr. 2019.


Léger, Marc. Culture and Contestation in the New Century. Intellect Books Ltd, 2011.


Now Introducing : Shigeo Fukuda | Angie Wang

Shigeo Fukuda

The graphic designer I’m going to introduce is Shigeo Fukuda.

Shigeo Fukuda was born in Tokyo, Japan, on February 4th 1932. He was known as a sculptor, graphic artist, and poster designer. His artwork usually has a common theme of deception. For example Lunch With a Helmet On, was a piece of sculpture he did with forks, knives, and spoons while the shadow was a motorcycle.

Image result for lunch with a helmet on shigeo fukuda

At the end of WWII, he started to become interested in the minimalist Swiss Style of Graphic design. That was when he attended Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music to study designs and graduated in 1956. Many of his work was focused on social advocacy, mostly on pacifism and environmentalism.

Some of his famous works are Victory 1945, it was awarded the grand prize at the Warsaw Poster Contest in 1975. It was an antiwar poster, showing projectile artillery shell going towards the opening of the cannon barrel, but it could also be viewed as a celebration of popping a champagne bottle. A simple, yet clear idea makes Fukuda’s posters powerful.

Image result for victory 1945

Image result for shigeo fukuda                                                              Another piece he did making guns slowly transforming into peace sign, showing this view on wars.

shigeo-fukuda-victory 2These are the posters from his Victory series, showing his antiwar belief.

shigeo-fukuda1982-happyearthday                                                                This poster was created to celebrate Earth Day, showing an axe with its head down and a small branch growing upwards from its wooden handle.

 It wasn’t until 1966 that he started to gain attention, the first time at a Czechoslovakian graphic design competition. Due to his creativity and clever ideas, he was then commissioned for Montreal’s Expo 1967. Paul Rand, an American art director came across some of Fukuda’s work in an issue of Japanese Graphic Design Magazine, and liked his potential, which led him to help Fukuda to exhibit his work for the first time in the US at the New York City’s IBM Gallery. It showcased his puzzle wooden sculptures which he created as a plaything for his child. This event helped him gained more recognition. Fukuda said that his work is highly inspired by Takashi Kohno, it was him who inspired him to start his own communication design.

The New York Times even described Fukuda’s posters as “distilled complex concepts into compelling images of logo-simplicity”. One of his famous quote is “I believe that in design, 30 percent dignity, 20 percent beauty and 50 percent absurdity are necessary”. These are all the elements that forms his work. Fukuda also did a lot of work for amnesty international, which is a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights. One of the more special piece he did for them is a clenched fist with barbed wire outline in 1980.


Although he did a lot of serious artwork, but he also created some playful ones. For example he created these coffee posters for UCC Ueshima Coffee, play and repetitive ads.

shigeo-fukuda-UCC-coffeeImage result for fukuda coffee

Fukuda has achieved many awards and recognition for his graphic design, but none of these can compare to 1987 when he was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. He was remembered as “Japan’s consummate visual communicator” in the Hall of Fame. It was a great achievement because he was the first Japanese designer chosen to be inducted in there. His work brings everyone together and he believes that graphic designer has a responsibility to do that. He passed away in January, 2009 due to subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Work Cited

Johnny. “Antiwar Posters by Graphic Designer Shigeo Fukuda.” Spoon and Tamago. July 15 2015. Accessed April 5 2019.

“Shigeo Fukuda.” Famous Graphic Designer. Accessed April 5  2019.

“Shigeo Fukuda.” Ideas On Design. Accessed April 5 2019.











Tradition in Modernity: Introducing Ikko Tanaka


Nihon Buyo (1981), Ikko Tanaka. M0Ma.

written: Camille Gan/3160633

 Ikko Tanaka (1930-2002) was a Japanese graphic designer who combined modernist principles of design with traditional Japanese art. This became his characteristic style as it would simultaneously communicate western design while maintaining a Japanese character.

Born in the historic city of Nara, Japan, Tanaka studied art in his childhood years. He did not have a formal post-secondary education in design, as he later chose to move to Kyoto, Japan, to work in theatre. Kyoto, as the previous capital of Japan for almost 1000 years, was where he was exposed to 19th century woodblock prints by artists such as Hokusai and Kabuki.

In post-war Japan, Japanese designers tried to respect their nation’s cultural past while incorporating modern ideas into design. Tanaka began freelancing as a designer in the 50s. Using the bright, flat colours and hard edges of traditional woodblock prints, he developed his own style with compositions that were clean but playful.

In 1963, he opened his own studio- Tanaka Design Studio, where his clients would include Mazda and Issey Miyake.

In 1981, he created one of his best-known works, a poster for the Nihon Buyo dance troupe performance by the Asian Performing Arts Institute. The poster depicts a stylized Geisha, composed of only simple shapes and colours found in woodblocks. Depth is absent from the composition, minus the red fade on her face. Natural, organic curves are absent with the exception of her lips, hair piece and eye makeup. The poster’s angular design is clearly of a modernist tendency, yet there are still features of traditional Japanese aesthetics.

Kimono Exhibition, 1991

Kimono Exhibition, 1991

The design philosophy behind Tanaka’s work would later influence other designers and even brands down the road to embrace clean forms while retaining a Japanese flair. Tanaka himself was the art director of homeware brand Muji until 2001. Muji would incorporate the philosophy of straightforward, unfrivolous design in all material objects under the brand.



Tanaka’s work are strong examples of blending international/foreign styles while maintaining a native look. Although modernist, his compositions communicate a Japanese influence even without overt Japanese imagery, through the use of some artistic aesthetics found in traditional Japanese art; colour, form, motifs, gradients. These elements come together to create a homogenous style and composition: not foreign but not entirely Japanese either.

Tanaka was able to incorporate traditional ideas into modern design during a turbulent period of Japan’s history in the post- WW2 era. Looking away from its imperial past, Tanaka used images that were classic and universal in his country. Outside of Japan, these motifs resonated with viewers to see a purely Japanese, non-political aesthetic, especially viewers from the west.

Tanaka incorporated new standards of design within as a reaction to a country’s socio-political context; the textbook fails to look at the situations of other industrialized nations in the world during the era of Modernist design, instead opting for a Eurocentric view of the style. The textbook doesn’t mention how local designers in countries reacted to emerging design ideas from foreign shores. Tanaka was able to create a solution, or, better, a style, to synthesize modern, foreign, and the traditional and familiar.



Ikko Tanaka

Icons – Shervin Chung

A part of graphic design which is often left out in books are icons. A small symbol which helps represent something much bigger than itself. As focus is mainly on the more detailed posters in Icons have been around for as long as humans were. From the time of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to now, they are still being used in design.They utilized symbols for artwork on the walls. Even though the ancient Egyptians then did not speak out language nor do we speak their language. In order to understand part of their history we learned through the icons they created. In places such as airports where multiple languages are being spoken they need icons on signs for everyone to understand. They also came along with the introduction of computers as they take up less space on the screen. The floppy disk icon is still being used to save a document even though we are past the age of the floppy disk. Many of those icons are still used in modern computers today, though the graphics have been updated since then. A place where there are numerous icons is the app store. They are extremely important for apps as it is the first introduction to the consumer. Icons have to be recognizable to the masses. Colour and images are very important in icons as they need to be eye catching. Like the Snapchat ghost or the Youtube play button. They are easily readable and are universally known. Simplistic images are great for making small merchandise such as pins or small designs on shirts.

Heaven’s Mirror, some of the illustrated texts on the second shrine of Tutankhamen.

Icons bring emotions as it is art. Being both functional and tasteful in design. They can be used in many different styles. Styles such as elegance, cuteness and playfulness help the message get across through a small thumbnail. They need to be able to catch the attention of all types of people in order to be a successful design.  Even in the modern times icons are still really useful. Especially since cultures aren’t as separated now as they were before. When people can’t communicate with each other, there was always simple icons to fall back on. With the usage of smartphones, people are now connected more than ever. Traveling is pretty normal now so many tourist areas will use icons to show where the toilets are or show different places on a map.

Universal Washroom Icons

Icons are very important in human history as pictures are universally known. They help break the language barrier between people so we all are able to understand each other. They help preserve history and make it understandable to the people of the future. All throughout history they have been used as some people were unable to read writing. Their design is a crucial part of their symbolism as they help get the point across with just a glance. They become their own identity that people recognize. Symbols are convenient and easy for people of all ages to understand. So icons and their designs are a meaningful part of human culture.

Works Cited

Harvey, Clesson H. “The Great Pyramid Texts – Graham Hancock Official Website.” The Official Graham Hancock Website,

L&ouml;fgren, Emma. “Swedish Museum Gets Gender Neutral Toilet Sign.” The Local, The Local, 16 Apr. 2015,

Now Introducing: Graphic Design and Brand Identity

Along with the rising prominence of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, entrepreneurial endeavours have become a large business demographic. Online platforms have made brands more visual and interactive, which is where brand identity has emerged. Product packaging, online aesthetic, colour palette, brand specific illustrations and icons are all part of the user experience. Graphic design plays a key role is establishing the rhythm and vibe of a brand. May it be through logos, colours or image and text relationship, it is important that growing designers learn how to encapsulate a company’s entire vision into visual graphics.

In his journal article, Robert L. Underwood talks about how packaging plays a role in connecting the product to its customers. Colours, packaging style, font choice all play a role in creating emotions and reinforcing the brand’s ideologies and goals (Underwood, 62). Dishwasher and detergent companies are strong examples of using graphics to express their products. The Sunlight dish wash soap brand uses a heavy contrast of yellow and white to promote the crisp cleanliness that is ensured after the use of their product. Household products usually sold with consistent designs and colour palettes often create a sense of familiarity and trustworthiness with their customers, ensuring market success. Historically, brands have relied on design consistency to stand out in the market place and create a relationship with their customers. McDonald’s for example, has used variations of their trademarked Golden Arches logo since 1961, and it has now become one of the most easily recognizable fast food brands in the world. Parle-G, which was named the world’s bestselling biscuit brand in 2011, have maintained consisted packaging since the 1980s and a similar identity since their establishment in 1929. They are easily recognizable by the young photographed girl that appears on the packets.

Online brands and companies however, are a different story. Places of trading for small businesses have shifted from store shelves to online platforms where a visual mood board is far more crucial. A brand’s Instagram page, Facebook account or App Store application, all have to be consistent in terms of design, vibe, fonts and images. A strong example of consistent brand identity is the mediation app, Headspace. In an interview with Anna Charity, the head of design at Headspace, she talks about demystifying a broad concept like meditation by turning it into accessible illustrations integrated with simple icons to make meditation feel inclusive and relatable to people who may be intimidated by it. Creating an accessible interface with lighthearted characters and colours was integral to Headspace’s design process in making the app approachable to people struggling with anxiety, insomnia and other conditions. This has resulted in an estimated number of 30 million users today. There are many other brands on the market with distinct visuals and graphic design. For example, Apple is well known for its crisp black and white graphics, with few bursts of colour, integrated with sans serif fonts and clean lines. Their consistent aesthetic has garnered them a powerful consumer base, as their aesthetic and visuals have become a major selling point. There’s a similar case with brands like Adidas, often recognized with their signature three stripes, Nike with their Swoosh, dynamic product colours and typical orange shoeboxes. NASA is also a company with strong identity, although they aren’t big on the market place, they have established their individuality with their signature 60’s sans serif font and patriotic colours.

Brand design and vision is an important aspect of graphics that emerging designers must learn as it is a vastly growing field with a variety of job descriptions. Moreover, being in charge creating a brand’s identity is an immensely challenging and liberating collaborative effort and students should be to think critically and condense abstract and intangible ideas into colours, pictorials, symbols and font choices. This topic being a part of teaching material is immensely important as the education students receive should be applicable to the changing economy. There is an increasing demand for artists with distinct styles and voices and they should be able to translate their style into multiple forms of media as versatility is the key to being a successful designer.

Supporting images (in order of mention):

Detergent companies as examples of expressing brand ideology:

sunlight-canada-logo  l3172301

  • Detergent companies often use highly saturated colours with strong contrast to express cleanliness and the fonts are often bold and backlit, mimicking the “sparkle” on clean utensils.

McDonald’s logo evolution:

golden-arches-logo mcdonalds-logo-meaning mcdonalds-secret-weapon-logo

  • McDonald’s has had a consistent brand identity since the introduction of The Golden Arches in 1961, and has seen some revisions since then.

Parle – G Packaging and Graphics


  • Parle G is India’s most popular biscuit/cookie brand. Since their opening in 1929, they’ve had little changes and their current packaging format and font has remained unchanged since 1982.

Headspace – The Meditation App

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  • Headspace has a very distinct form of characterization, which breaks the barrier between the user and the broad concept of meditation. Their colour palette gives of a very calm and collected mood, which symbolizes the brand as a whole.


  • These are two of Apple’s advertisements the intelligently combine graphics and text in a way that is very personal to their style. Each ad falls under Apple’s grand theme of simplicity, yet each video is individual and stands on its own.

Adidas and Nike

don_t_rest_alphaskin_sport__padded_3-stripes_bra_white_dt4027_21_model superstar_shoes_white_c77124_01_standard


  • Nike and Adidas have quite similar consumer demographics but each brand distinctly holds their own. Adidas is more known for their classic approach to design and logo, they rely little on text, where as Nike is known for their bold use of text on their apparel, which gives them a more urban and playful feel.


NASA Graphics Standards Manual

screen-shot-2019-04-05-at-4-44-39-pm screen-shot-2019-04-05-at-4-45-05-pm screen-shot-2019-04-05-at-4-45-32-pm

The above screenshots are from the NASA Graphics Standard Manual written and designed by Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn. The above link provides more pictures, which shows a thorough look into Nasa’s design and company outlook.


Works Cited: 

Underwood, Robert L. “The Communicative Power of Product Packaging: Creating Brand Identity via Lived and Mediated Experience.” Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, vol. 11, no. 1, 2003, pp. 62–76. JSTOR,

“Products | Sunlight Canada”. Sunlightcanada.Ca, 2019,

“History Of The Mcdonald’s Logo Design – Evolution And Meaning”. Inkbot Design, 2018,

Pal, Sanchari. “The Parle-G Story: How Swadeshi Movement Gave India Its Beloved Biscuit”. The Better India, 2017,

Lorenzo, Doreen, and Anna Charity. “How Headspace Rebranded Meditation”. Fast Company, 2018,

“Apple”. Youtube, 2019,


Adidas. SUPERSTAR SHOES. Accessed 5 Apr 2019.

Nike. Nike Sportswear NSW. Accessed 5 Apr 2019.

Nike. Nike Sportswear. Accessed 5 Apr 2019.

Danne, Richard, and Bruce Blackburn. “NASA Graphics Standards Manual”. Standards Manual, 1975,






Now Introducing: HuangHai


HuangHai, one of the most celebrated Chinese film poster designer, was born after 1975. He got famous recently because of his posters for the film, The Golden Era, amazed not only Chinese people, but people from all around the world. I think it is necessary to include some more Asian designers or artworks in our textbook because the content is currently dominated by European and North American artists. China, as one of the largest country with the most population, has contributed a lot of talented artists to the world. It should be mentioned in the graphic design field, as far as I concerned. The Chinese design field is developing in a rapid pace in recent years, and HuangHai is one of the pioneers in the film poster design industry of China, which could be brought up to exemplify Chinese designs. By mentioning about designers or artworks from different places of the world, it also brings diversity to the students. In this case, since the Chinese character is in a completely different language system from English alphabets, its typography and text-image integration need different technic and methodology from alphabetical designs. I believe this unique feature equips it with a lot of potentials for us to explore. Therefore, showing the students more diverse examples provides them more possibilities of design.

Some of HuangHai’s designs, the use of brush strokes clearly indicates the Chinese culture.

One of HuangHai’s most famous works is The Golden Era poster series. The Golden Era is a Hong Kong biographical film released in 2014. The story talks about one of China’s most famous essayists and novelists, Xiao Hong, in the 1930s. She has reflected the progressive thinking during that time in China, which are rare and unique to be seen.

This is the first poster of the whole series, the splashed-ink represents the chaotic time period, and also how writing is powerful.

The Golden Era: Splash-Ink

This is the first poster of the whole series, the splashed-ink represents the chaotic social environment period, as well as the powerful energy contains in literature.

The Golden Era: Strokes

This is one of the posters of the second version. The character sits in between the words that also represent knives since the protagonist’s writing is her weapon to oppose.

The Golden Era: American version

This is the poster that HuangHai made for the American version, it is one of the most favored ones out of all the posters of the Golden Era. It represents that, although people see her life as decadence and poor, her soul weights more than gold.

The Golden Era: French version

The Golden Era: French version

The poster he designed for the French version is more romantic, which suits the French art culture and how they picture women. HuangHai combined the beauty of women and the restiveness of literator together to create this concise but powerful poster.

The Golden Era: Korean version

The Golden Era: Korean version

This Korean version poster is very different from the other ones because it focused more on the soreness of the film. Korean people are more emotional, and Korean film and drama tend to focus more on emotions, thus HuangHai captured their characteristics and made this Korean version.

HuangHai has been called the genius of poster design, he has a lot more sophisticated works beyond what I have mentioned that should be explored.

Works Cited:

PinkElephant. “HuangHai’s Artwork.” Genius Film Poster Designer HuangHai’s Work, Douban, 29 June 2017,

Unknown. “Huang Hai.” HuangHai-Chinese Film Poster Festival, GD2,

Unknown. “The Golden Era.” IMDb,, 1 Oct. 2014,