Graphic Tees – Kathia Buendia-Pereira

The Graphic Tee – Kathia Buendia-Pereira

As we all know, graphic design is a visual form that is used to communicate. Throughout history, many of the iconic and well-known visuals have been something that could be plastered on a wall, hung over the side of the freeway, or viewed on a screen. I believe that a different form of communication should be included in the textbook because of its simple everyday purpose yet has an impactful history.

T-shirts themselves have been around since the 19th century and got their name after its shape resembling the letter T. T-shirts were mainly advertised as standard attire for the military as undergarments. Later, due to the impact of movies, A Streetcar Named Desire and Rebel Without a Cause, the plain white tee became the staple item for rebellion and ‘bad boy attire’ since it was seen as unruly to be wearing undergarments as regular clothing. We can thank Marlon Brando and James Dean for this 1950s revolution.

A Streetcar Named Desire Poster and Rebel Without a Cause
A Streetcar Named Desire Poster and Rebel Without a Cause

In 1942, an Air Corps Gunnery School tee became one of the first every printed shirt which appeared on the cover of Life Magazine. The use of the graphic t-shirt became popular in the 60s when new inks arrived that made the printing process simpler.  Around the 70s, graphic tees became a staple piece of clothing throughout the hippy movement. Graphics such as the yellow smiley face, Andy Warhols Marilyn Monroe, and many others that usually had statements towards sex and politics gave people wearable words.

Andy Warhol's Marylin Monroe Shirt
Andy Warhol’s Marylin Monroe Shirt

These graphic tees were made possible by the process of silk screening that has been around since ancient China. Stretching ink through a screen that has been photo exposed to reveal a negative image that is transferred onto fabric. Considered a slow process at the time, classes began teaching silk screening t-shirts in schools since the popularity and demand grew.

Self-expression and individuality are a practice that everyone takes part in especially when it comes to what we wear. Graphic Tees have been worn for many years and will most likely be worm for several more. The use of the graphic tee is still prominent in today’s culture especially when it’s sharing your favourite band, animal, statement, or art. Tees are an easy visual communication of who we are as individuals. The New York Times calls them “the medium for the message”.

Assortment of Band T-Shirts
An Assortment of Band T-Shirts

Overall, the graphic tee is a statement in itself and has been for many years and have reached many people. The addition of this visual form in the textbook would show students the history of an article that we are probably wearing at this moment.


Feldman, Jay. “When Did Graphic t-Shirts Become Popular.” When Did Graphic T-Shirts Become Popular,

Harris, Will. “History of the T-Shirt.” Real Thread, 2019,

3D Typography: A New Graphic Design Trend


Graphic Design: A New History presents the history of different modernist designs in the early 20th century. Beyond the history, it also records the international style of Bauhau’s rise. In focus on the latest development of the global graphic design, the author discusses the influence of inexpensive and strong design software and the challenges faced by today’s designers. In the next edition of this book, I suggest adding a section of 3D Typography with accurate explanations and relative examples to the next edition of the book since the book needs to keep its relevancy and 3D Typography is the new influential trend of modern graphic design.

3D netbee logo

Fig.1. This composition shows how 3D design can enhance a logo design. Via Khatt Phatt.

First of all, the most important aspect of any marketing campaign is to get attention and make an impression on the audience. There are many different ways to achieve this, one of which is to add a three-dimensional effect to the information. The additional dimension layer separates the message delivery from the outside world, giving it an extra visual effect that draws the eye to the main focus(“3D lettering”). With the high requirement of graphic design from customers, 3D Typography are becoming popular that realistic style effects become more and more prevalent. 3D Typography provide viewers with the ability to experience something virtually in a completely different way(Fig.1). For example, injecting realism to a design project by using 3D Typography compared to 2D can invoke a more realistic and immersive experience for the viewer just like how a VR device would compared to a flat television screen(Carrie).

A creative and fun metallic poster

Fig.2. A creative and fun metallic poster. By Pinch Studio.

3D typography is also becoming more popular in digital design(Fig.2). Traditional typographies vary in styles, and 3D typestyles too. There aren’t a lot of strict rules when it comes to designing a 3D typography. Although any style or typeface can be used, a readable design is often preferable. Usually, 3D typographies are much more playful and artistic, hence creative design featuring different combinations of artistic styles is often encouraged. 3D typography is suitable for the coming trend. The best part about this coming trend is that no particular type is best suited for it: bold, tight, script, sans serif, any font can be rendered in 3D(Meg). In addition to printing, I see many beautifully rendered 3D compositions, giving the impression that distant planets are still at rest.

Lastly, I think the explanation of the relevance of many of his examples could be more descriptive, and very few of them have photos and captions. In addition, the chapter on the latest graphic design (post-internet) is somewhat weak because it lacks the depth and perspective of the earlier sections. Hence, for the next edition of Graphic Design: A New History, I hope to see a section discussing 3D typography because it represents the reality of emerging technology and technical innovations. It will be insightful to see how different typographies have developed over the years and discover where 3D typography will lead us in the future in terms of digital design. Its influence on the history of graphic design is great that I think it should be highlighted in our textbooks.



Works Cited

Cousins, Carrie. “3D Typography: An Inspiring Design Trend.” Design Shack, 6 Aug. 2018,

Reid, Meg. “The 10 most inspirational graphic design trends for 2019.” 99designs,

“3D lettering.” Crisp Imaging,

Chinese woman and modernity calendar posters of the 1910s-1930s

I personally find there is few chinese graphic desingers and areas are mentioned in the textbook. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, chinese artists were exposed to Western art, and incorporated elements of foreign styles to their work. A new form of advertising called calendar posters was developed in the early twentieth century. Tabacoo companies and drug stores started to produce artisitc posters inspired by traditional Chinese art. Major companies would present these calendars as gifts to their clients at the beginning of Chinses New Year. These posters usually had a large picture in the center with calendars on the sides.

From: Postcard copyrighted by: DalHousie Enterprises,  Orchard P.O., Box 0248, Singapore 9123 Caption: "Eveready Girl-2 The qipao literally means 'bannergown.' It was considered a very modern and daring drress in the 1920s."
“Everyday Batteries” advertising calendar in 1931, Shanghai. 

During this period, Chinese society was still at the beginning of its emergence from traditional into modernity.  These posters were printed in colour lithography and designed by Chinese painters. Since the posters could easily be acquired, they were even available to the lowest social class. The subject of calendar posters are mature urban women instead of innocent young female students. Calendar girls are represented as combining both Chinese and western features. A wealthy, well-educated and independent woman who live a leisurely bourgeois lifestyle. The representations of women in 1930s calendar posters support an ideology of modernity in Republican Shanghai.

"Medicine tablets" calendar poster printed in 1931, Shanghai.
“Medicine tablets” calendar poster printed in 1931, Shanghai.

The designers used light lines, charcoal stumping and the application of water colors by layers to give the skin moist, vivid and life-like skin. They painted women in traditional dress on silk canvas, as figures from classical novel. Zou Muqiao, one of the earliest creators of the calendar posters, applied ricer colors and form of prespectives to Chinese painting techniques. He painted women in fashionable 20th century dress, and even carried out market research with the celebrities at the pleasure gardens of Shanghai.

"Chinese perfume" advertising calendar poster printed in 1930, Shanghai
“Chinese perfume” advertising calendar poster printed in 1930, Shanghai

The reson why I think it’s important to include calendar posters in the text book is that it’s a unqiue genre in the development of graphic design. There posters not only show the evidence of western art styles, but also highlight the traditional Chinese art techniques. They also share the similarities with male and female models (i.e Arrow Shirt Man) in western advertisiments in the begining of the twentieth century. Even today, calendar posters still have influences in advertising and graphic design fields. The textbook could have a wide range of collections of graphic designs by having both western and Asian artists and styles.

Work Cited:

Representations of Calendar Girls and An Ideology of Modernity in 1930s Republican Shanghai, Yifan Song, MSC in Global Media and Communication,2017.

National Day Thoughts: Calendar Poster Art, Xueting, Ni, September, 30, 2016, snow pavilion.

Andrews, Julia F. and Kuiyi Shen. A Century in Crisis: Tradition and Modernity in the Art of Twentieth-Century China. New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1998.


The Citizen Designer

Sylvia Harris, The Citizen Designer
Rooha Ahmed


Sylvia Harris was born in 1953 in Richmond, Virginia and passed away on July 24th, 2011 at the young age of 54. Growing up in the south during the 60s as a black woman, Harris saw the importance of social systems that affect people’s everyday lives. She studied at Virginia Commonwealth University where she developed an interest in graphic design studying under Philip B. Meggs. After graduating with a BFA in 1975 and Harris moved to Boston to Study at the graphic design master’s program at Yale University. She worked with architects and broadcast media where she learned more about environmental graphics. This is where she experienced first hand the lack of diversity in the field.  

After graduating and leaving her job in 1980, Harris co-founded the design firm “Two Twelve Associates” alongside two classmates in New York City. Here is where she focused on user-focused designs helped people understand what was going on in the world and coined the term “public information design”. She worked with Citibank and helped design their first ATM, which set a standard for all kinds of human-centred automated customer service.


Harris, Sylvia. U.S. Postal Service. 2006.

Harris left Two Twelve and founded her own company, “Sylvia Harris LLC” now known as “Citizen Research & Design” in 1994. Putting her focus on design planning and strategy Sylvia Harris worked with some of America’s largest hospitals, universities and civic agencies with system planning, policy development and management. Along with the Central Park Zoo, and U.S. Postal Service’s Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, Sylvia Harris worked as the creative director for the United States Census Bureau. She created graphics for the 2000 Census to encourage more participation among those previously under-represented. Her new census was more digestible for America’s diverse population so results were much more accurate moving forward.


Harris, Sylvia. U.S. Census 2000. 2000.

Harris wanted to combine her love of design with education to create clean, effective and comprehensive work to inform. She recognized the importance of researching effective design systems so that work could be both informative and aesthetically pleasing. Sylvia Harris should be included in the textbook because she paved the way for effective information graphics used everywhere. As a black woman, Sylvia serves as an inspiration to many women and women of colour in the field. Not only did she start successful design firms, but she also held classes (Yale, School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union) and conferences (Organization of Black Designers) to mentor others. What sets Sylvia Harris apart from others is that she always looked at how to improve the world around.

Works cited

“Two Twelve – Two Twelve.” Twotwelve.Com, 2012, 

“U.S. Census 2000 | Citizen Research & Design.” Citizenrd.Com, 2020,

Gibson, David. “Sylvia Harris.” AIGA | the Professional Association for Design, 2014, 

Blum, Sydney. “Sylvia Harris.” GD 203, 5 Apr. 2018. 

Koichi Sato’s reinvention of Japanese tradition


Koichi Sato. The Modern Poster, New York. 1988.

Japanese designer Koichi Sato has a signature visual style that draws upon traditional Japanese imagery to produce a look that feels familiar yet foreign––for this reason he should be included in this course. His work seems to be begging you to compare it to other Japanese styles we’ve already come to know and love (think Ukiyo-e), while also merging it with familiar imagery from the Western canon of art.

Take The Modern Poster (above) as example. The subtleness of the gradient rectangle seems to mimic the flatness of woodblock prints, while perhaps also referencing the colour planes of Rothko. The typography takes on a distinctly art deco look with its geometry and even stroke weight. Sato has ditched the asymmetry of previous Japanese works and instead utilized a fully symmetrical composition that strictly adheres to a grid.


Koichi Sato. Shino-Dan: Kono Yoh Ni Watachi Wa Kiita. 1976

Rikuyo-sha Publishing Inc. made a collection of his works which I have luckily managed to snatch from the OCAD library before they closed. In the book jacket, it notes how Sato is able to use “pictures from the ‘Japanese picture memory’ … [to] convey messages intended to say traditional things in a new form” [I am unable to find an author for the book jacket blurb, but I have obviously included a citation of the full book]. Looking at Shino-Dan, his use of familiar Japanese imagery is fully obvious. The female subject matter, the flat planes of colour––all things we’ve seen before. But Sato doesn’t adhere to tradition in the way that, say William Morris would. Instead, he updates his imagery to reflect the present. The nude woman portrayed here seems to be weeping on the floor with a polaroid picture next to her––a huge departure from the traditional woman of Ukiyo-e. Much like The Modern Poster, Shino-Dan also features typography that takes on a more modern form because of the way it follows a grid.


Koichi Sato. Agamemnon. 1972.

Koichi Sato’s work would bring a modern look at Japanese prints that perfectly complements the lectures from the earlier weeks of this course. It opens a conversation between old and new styles, and shows how a country like Japan, with its strong sense of national identity that is rooted in its aesthetics of the past, is able to reinvent itself without a complete rejection of the traditional.


Koichi Sato. Promotional Poster for a Group of Flower Arrangers. 1985.

Work Cited:

Koichi, Sato. Koichi Sato. Rikuyosha, 1990.

Images from:

“Koichi Sato: MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art,

Shigeo Fukuda

    Shigeo Fukuda was born on February 4, 1932, and died on January 11, 2009, was a Japanese sculptor, medallist, graphic artist, and poster designer. He is significant for the creation of optical illusions, which is often shown in his art, portraying deception as well as communicating peace and harmony. Moreover, Fukuda is the first Japanese designer to be inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. Fukuda’s work is recognizable for its simplicity and use of visual illusions. He’s interested in the principles of Swiss design during university has shaped his design style afterward.

    Fukuda’s design Victory 1945 (fig 1) is very well known. The overall imagery is very simple and clean. Where it depicts a gun firing but having the bullet facing back. The design communicates the message of the absurdity of war and the Japanese government during the second world war. Furthermore, the caption on the upper left emphasizes the event and message, making the design very straight forward to the viewers. Victory 1945 won Fukuda the grand prize of the Warsaw Poster Contest in 1975, a competition whose proceeds helped fun the Peace Fund Movement. Another design by Fukuda is a series of posters created to celebrate Earth Day, created in 1982. The first poster within the Happy Earth Day (fig 2) posters features the Earth as a seed opening against a solid sea-blue background. The second shows an axe set on the ground, and having a small branch sprouting on the handle. The third poster features the earth once again, but having two united arms holding, indicating the message of peace. The last poster shows a sapling and having the continents as leaves. These posters use simple and universal subjects to communicate a significant message. Thus showing his significance as a graphic designer who boldly uses principles of design and turning them into influential messages. Inherited from his influential designs, Fukuda’s commercial graphic design is also simple and playful. His advertisement poster for UCC Ueshima Coffee (fig 3) uses optical illusions, where the gap between the repetitive men’s arms creates the women’s and vise versa.

    Overall, Shigeo Fukuda is an influential graphic designer, where his work “collapses all cultural and linguistic barriers with his universally recognizable style”(Famous Graphic Designer 2018). As well as his “sense of high moral responsibility as a graphic designer and the worldly causes his work mirrored and embraced is the testament of that”(Famous Graphic Designer 2018). Therefore, his qualities as a graphic designer prove that he qualifies and should be featured in the graphic design textbook.

Fig .1 Shigeo Fukuda, Victory 1945, 1975.
Fig .1 Shigeo Fukuda, Victory 1945, 1975.
Fig.2  Shigeo Fukuda, Happy Earth Day, 1982.
Fig.2 Shigeo Fukuda, Happy Earth Day, 1982.
Fig. 3 Shigeo Fukuda, poster for UCC Ueshima Coffee.
Fig. 3 Shigeo Fukuda, Poster for UCC Ueshima Coffee.

Work Cited:

  1. “Shigeo Fukuda: Biography, Designs and Facts.” Famous Graphic Designers,