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A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed How is contemporary design influenced by the past, and what effect has it had in modern graphic design? Contemporary design in terms of graphics has rapidly progressed and grown over the past century, and has made a great impact to the way modern design visually communicates with its audience. In most cases, modern design work is the refurbishment or response to inspirational or influential creations of the past. With the succession of a growing industry, Graphic communication has benefitted from the rapid growth of technological advancements, widening the horizon for design disciplines. To discover the origin of contemporary design, a narrow investigation into famous graphic designers and the social and cultural backgrounds, which have influenced their work, is needed, to uncover how we use this contemporary art to visually communicate in the modern world. My research will consist of the comparison between influential graphic designers such as Barbara Kruger and Alexander Rodchenko who embraced Russian constructivism during the revolution, and will focus on how each designer’s style has been influence from the past. Many of today’s methods of graphic communication have embraced from the Russian constructivism movement during the Russian Revolution. The Russian Revolution in 1917 was caused due to the lack of compromise between both ends of social classes and the people of Russia protested for Russia to destroy the ruling and unfair division of social sectors. The government due to the radical exploitation being promoted to society controlled traditional art and any forms of painting. Industrialisation and advancement in technology caused this traditional art form to become lost and forgotten. Russian Constructivism was a movement created in 1915, later led by Alexander Rodchenko in 1917. Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy of breaking down the barriers of art and explore further into how design work can affect everyday life, through architectural and industrial production. Constructivism often ranged from experimenting with abstract shapes and geometric lines, to create a sense of movement.

Alexander Rodchenko 1891 -1956 was one of the main leaders of the Russian Constructivist movement during the revolution. He embraced the style of constructivist art though geometric and abstract shapes and bold lines. Rodchenko work was commonly used to promote the society he was living in, and his style of work was often used to promote Russian Propaganda. His work was greatly influenced by the Russian Revolution, and propaganda techniques were used to


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed persuade the Russian people to abide by the rules of Soviet state, through constructivist methods of geometric shapes and Russian text, to communicate with the people.

Rodchenko propaganda poster 1924

Rodchenko’s constructivist approach to his design work had great influence on many visual designs during the 20th century. Modern and contemporary designers have resurrected similar techniques to the propaganda piece created by Rodchenko above, following in the footsteps of geometric and bold line composition, such as the ‘Franz Ferdinand’ CD cover, which uses Rodchenko work as a great influence through his constructivist style. The Franz Ferdinand art cover work uses constructivist influences through the use of timeless lines and bold tones of colours, similar to that seen in the style of Rodchenko. Also, the layout and composition of type is similar to that of Russian propoganda pieces designed by Rodchenko. This demonstrates the influence Rodchenko’s work has had on contemporary art in modern design.


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed Additionally, the stylistic and social influences of Rodchenko have also benefitted the work of modern design on the website ‘Obey’, which uses Russian Constructivism as a great inspiration towards its work, along with the stylistic influence of Rodchenko. Similar to constructivist movement, social change and expression of political issues is an element that the Obey website has adapted into their own, such as the US Election posters on their site and the Chinese government pieces.

Development: Capture the Moment


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed

During my brief research into alternative artist and design styles, I also found the works of Russian constructivism and Rodchenko work influential to adapt into my own. Using his style of work, I implemented the tones and textures of limitless bold lines to create a sense of movement in this piece. The use of composition and geometric lines and shapes works effectively in response to Rodchenkos work as my piece produces a visual appreciation for movement and creativity, in the style of his work. Modern Contemporary graphic designers embrace in the influences of popular artwork and pioneers like Alexander Rodchenko, who made great impact in the methods of how designers can communicated with their audience through visual designs. An artist who was influenced by Rodchenkos work is Barbara Kruger, a graphic designer. Barbara Kruger was born in America in early 1945, and became one of the leading conceptual artists of her time. She specializes in photomontage and compositional pieces experimenting with compilations of black and white images along with negative effects, combined with typographic labels. Her work consists of eyecatching labels with catchy phrases that directly communicate a message to her audience. Her work often expresses physical struggle and the ability to control.


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed

Kruger consistently uses midtones of red, white and black throughout all her work, with a combination of negative effect and black and white thresholding and montage. The compositional aspect of her work is strong with the type labels layering over the images. Some of her work uses composition and symmetry to demonstrate similar skills to Rodchenko’s constructivist style. Kruger has used this style of design as her inspiration but has further developed them into her own style using text as a form of communication to convey information to her audience. This method of conveying messages through text engages the audience viewing her work, with interactive and involving terms such as ‘Your’ and ‘We’, to show a sense of unity between her audience and her work. The pieces involve the viewer, such as ‘we have received orders, not to move’, which conveys an order or instruction. Barbara Krugers work has been influence by the past with Rodchenko’s approach to Russian constructivism, and has used this method of abstract and geometrical composition in her own work, adapting her own style. In correspondence to my own work, I have briefly experimented into the style of Krugers works, in the sense of exploring how typographic text can communicate and convey a message to the viewer.

In comparison between the influences of Rodchenko and Kruger, it is not only constructivism, which influences their work; it also originates from alternative disciplines such as typography. Artists have experimented with a variety of design disciplines within Graphic Design, ranging from typography, illustration,


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed photography and print. Typography itself has developed into a strong focus within the graphics industry as it manages to convey a message creatively and effectively through visual communication. Many experimental artists in the modern century have thrived in the experimentation of typography such as Oscar Wilson and Craig Ward.


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed Oscar Wilson Typography The development and advancement in technology ever since the later 1970’s has advanced the progress of graphic design, from the traditional techniques of hand awing, printing and letterpress, which can now graphically be developed on computers, which have advanced in editing software, replacing these traditional and manual approach to design. Computer editing software has allowed designers of the modern world to design in forms that were not possible before, allowing more vibrant colours, compositions, brush techniques to be put into practice into practical designs. Also, the platform for photographic design was also provided, as photographs could now be edited on the computer to enhance tones, brightness and contrasts with ease. Digital advancements allowed online portfolios for artists to promote their work and share their styles with other contemporary artists, allowing designers to adapt into a wide range of influences. Both artists, Rodchenko and Kruger, have their own unique style in the way they present their design work. However, there is a clear signal that their work has been influenced by cultural and society based events. The Russian revolution gave birth to one of the most influential art forms of constructivism, with pioneers such as Rodchenko leading the art form to a further century and influencing many designers such as a Kruger. Barbara Kruger shows clear inspiration developed from Rodchenko’s constructive work with the way she experiments with geometric lines and composition, especially the tones and colours she uses, which reinforce the influence of a Russian based art form. However, she has been able to rejuvenate a great art form into her own style by using strong textual designs to communicate a more in depth and involving message to the viewer. In Conclusion, it is clear to see that modern contemporary art has been influence from past art forms to allow artists and designers to further develop into their own pieces of work. In comparison between Alexander Rodchenko and Barbara Kruger there is a clear link and influence from Russian Constructivism and how both have been able to use these influences and enhance their contemporary styles and manage to convey message to communicate with their specific audience, whether it be a social audience or cultural. During my research into these art forms, I believe I have captivated these styles into my own work by briefly researching into Russian constructive art form, and have gained a new outlook on the approach to constructive and compositional placement, along with the use of geometry. It is sensible to confirm that graphic design has used past influences to develop the way we communicate with an audience through our visual designs.

Bibliography

• en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Rodchenko • www.barbarakruger.com • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Kruger


A2 Graphics Essay Fahud Ahmed

• obeygiant.com • www.debutart.com


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