02. Resources AND 02. Inspiration: Megg’s History of Graphic Design

I was really torn about what category to place this particular blog post under because I find this particular book not only resourceful but also incredibly inspirational and for that simple reason, I’m going to cheat and count it as both. This seriously might be one of the coolest required textbooks for a class ever: Megg’s History of Graphic Design (5th Edition) by Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis.

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Since I only received this book about a week ago, I haven’t had much time to really dive into it but just looking at the book itself, by flipping through the pages, and reading brief snippets it is supremely evident how valuable this text will be in multiple facets of my life.

First, the physical book design is so interesting and visually stunning. The paper cover wrap is visually bright and stunning, showing a wide range of different graphic design pieces and styles. It has a good representation of how much time and history this book will cover (as will be discussed in a bit). The inside cover is really fascinating and inspirational to me.

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The simple spaced out type, the 4 basic type colors, the bright blue background all seem to work really well together. The numbers pop even though they are the same color as the “part” section titles. I really aspire to create something so simple and yet so visually captivating with just type and color alone. I hate to be critical of this awesome book, but I find myself wondering what it would have looked like if the text ran across the two pages in spread format instead of standard book format. What if all the text was both justified on the right and the left? What if the “Part” sections were a different color, and not so close to the black? Even though I still really, really, really appreciate the design of the inner cover, the fact that it makes me think about the design choices really makes me appreciate it even more (sort of goes back to my first inspiration post about finding such in the world around us and asking these sorts of questions). The other physical design aspect that I absolutely LOVE is the hardcover portion. Plain white cover (although probably problematic if one were to take the jacket off), simple black text on the spine. It just seems so simple and yet so perfect. Here is this crazy, bright, geometrically-laid out covers and then just nothing. And nothing isn’t bad, it almost shows that design can be both crazy and exciting and chaotic but also plain, basic, empty and these can all be good things if done in the right ways in the right spaces.

I tend to favor this blue (teal, turquoise, whatever it really is), white, gray, black color scheme that is carried throughout the book on the paper and hard covers and the part introduction pages (don’t even get me started on these; straight vertical segments, alternating color to differentiate the different chapters within each section, aligned and sectioned timelines, good negative space- just so pretty and clean). I’ve used this color scheme on my graphic design resumes and have been in the process of carrying it over to my personal design site. When I was working on creating these , I briefly researched the meanings of color (does that sound crazy?) and this color in particular signifies creativity, freshness, calming, and sophistication. All things that I wanted to subtly and unconsciously convey in my own personal contexts, but in this context I can really see how they work on me. This basic color palette with the pop/contrast of blue really comes across as sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing in this book. And hello! the creativity of not only the design of the book but all the creative subject matter and images inside!

Speaking of the subject matter, this is where the resourceful part comes in. It’s always good to know where things come from, what got the ball rolling, and to see how far things have progressed. (Please read the next lines in a super excited tone.) There is a chapter on the invention of writing!! The alphabet!! Renaissance Graphic Design (I just took a Renaissance art history class, and there was no mention of graphic design)!! These are just the chapters that I can’t even believe are covered, and not the chapters that I’m super stoked to delve into (Pictorial Modernism! The Bauhaus and the New Typography! The International Typographic Style! Postmodern Design! The Digital Revolution!). Not that I am not excited about those first chapters mentioned because I am. Super. Excited. After flipping through the book several times, I see there are American pieces, German pieces, logos, posters, books, paintings, timelines, and so on. I would have to image that this book will not only be resourceful and a great reference during my educational career but also during my career as a graphic designer.

Does it sound like I am trying to sell the book? Maybe I am, but really I am just trying to convey how excited I am about everything about this book. This is definitely not a textbook that gets sold back at the bookstore, but will become a permanent fixture in my own library.

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