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Discuss the impact of technology on todays design world comparing it with the tools available to designers before the 1980’s. Technology can be defined as equipment and apparatus advanced and developed from scientific information. As technology ages, it constantly progresses. This is evident through many eras and significant events including the Age of Enlightenment; where the development of the printing press made it probable for politicians and scientists to interconnect link and communicate their ideas straightforwardly.

My thesis is that the development of technology has had a very positive and constructive impact on “todays design world� as it provides artists with a wide variety of methods to approach a task and produce a successful composition. Throughout the course of this essay, I will be comparing information from research such as work produced by preceding artists who still operate today or to another artist who was active around their time modern artist. Also possibly articles which may have already touched on this subject or one similar in order to be able discuss whether this is an accurate thesis.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is a museum, which exhibits a vast collection of decorative arts and design. The collection consists of ceramics, fabrics and materials, jewelry, furniture, statuaries, prints and printmaking, old-fashioned objects, drawings and photographs. It was essential that I visited the museum as it provided a wide variety of primary research which I could relate to this essay and the topic I am focusing on. The assortment of artifacts which date back to the 1900s are very fitting for my essay and are beneficial to me as I can compare the products and how they change over the course of time.

A memorable part of the exhibition was the prints collection which consists of objects on all sides of fine art and commercial production. They include prints from the Renaissance to the present. The initial process or technique of printing up to present time is known as Woodblock printing. [1] This process involves a woodblock which is judiciously prepared as a relief medium; this means the areas that are to show white or left blank are cut out, leaving the characters or image to be printed or show in black on the original surface of the woodblock. It is essential that the block has uniform contact with the paper or surface to be printed on in order to attain an adequate print. Multiple blocks are used for coloured printing, one for each colour. However, printing over colours may produce a further range of colours on the final composition. This process is very time consuming, as the paint has to dry before a subsequent layer of colour can be added.

[2] A fundamental element in the effectiveness of the entire printing industry was the printing press, which was invented by Johannes Gutenberg (“a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher around 1440”, according to Wikipedia). Gutenberg established an entire printing system based on simple screw presses that already existed during this period of time. This new invention allowed the prompt accurate and precise creation of iron mobile type in great amounts. The printing press disestablished preceding methods and techniques of printing as it led to the major mass production of publications such as books. A single printing press could produce just fewer than 4000 pages whereas typographic hand printing could only produce 40 each workday.

[3] The Gutenberg Bible was the first legitimate book produced using this method. The printing press technique allowed the process of graphic designing develop and allowed designers at that period to experiment more with typography. One example of how technology has had a progressive impact on “todays design world”. To this point, my thesis is proving correct.

During that period of time, this was a significant break through in technology. Nonetheless, if you were to compare the print press to a much more contemporary tool or technique such as the laser printer, you would notice that printing press was just a speckle of what was capable and the first step towards a new era of graphic designing. Even though graphics design had not emerged yet and Guttenberg was not intent on producing a composition when he published this Bible, pages of the Gutenberg bible can still be considered as graphic deigns as he focused on the appearance of the pages and operated with the type; typography can play a lead role in graphic design at times as the whole purpose of it is to try and communicate to a reader visually.

[4] The divide between fine art and graphics design began to become evident through the late 19th centuries; more specifically in Europe. However, comparing publications produced slightly prior to this to the Gutenberg Bible; prove similarities in style and text. From 1891 to 1896, William Morris' Kelmscott Press published books that were some of the most momentous graphic design products. Due to this, he made a very profitable business of creating books which consisted of great technical refinement and selling them to the wealthy. The following image is one of the prints he published.

William Morris received inspiration from Johannes Gutenberg to produce this print even though they were almost 400 years apart. The link between the publication above and the Gutenberg Bible is clear in terms of the style of font as well as the floral designs. [5] Even though, Morris had “Etching (ca. 1500), Mezzotint (1642), Aquatint (1768), Lithography (1796), Chromolithography (1837), Rotary press (1843) and Offset printing (1875)” available to him, he selected the print press technique. This approach to book making was central to the arts and crafts movement through this period of time so the print method was very important. This shows that artists still produce publications using historical methods or techniques and do not limit themselves to modern technology. In addition to this, newer technology such as Lithography and Aquatint do not deduct from the sentimental value of previous techniques. This also proves my thesis correct that the development of technology has had a constructive impact on “today’s design world”. [6] Calligraphy is a type of visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument or brush in one stroke (as opposed to built up lettering, in which the letters are drawn.) and has appeared since 600BC when it was used in for the Latin alphabet. Calligraphy constantly develops in the forms of font design/typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, announcements/graphic design/commissioned calligraphic art and cut stone inscriptions. It is also used for moving images, film and television and other works involving writing. The contemporary typefaces used by computers, from simple word processing programs like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages to professional designers' software packages like Adobe InDesign; owe a considerable debt to the past and to a small number of professional typeface designers today. [7] In relation to this is desktop publishing. Desktop publishing software is the formation of issued materials via a page plan on a private workstation. Once

used adeptly, desktop publishing software can reach outcomes of published literature as well as appealing compositions with typographic quality parallel to traditional prints and typography. James Bessen originated Desktop publishing in 1983 with a program he developed and has prospered ever since; in conjunction with digital printing. Desktop publishing provides artists with a number of benefits. To begin with, the process of desktop publishing is much quicker than that of traditional methods such as woodblock printing. For example, if you wanted to produce text, the long process of preparing the woodblock is completely avoided, as there are vast amounts of fonts available when using desktop publishing software.

[8] “The CMYK color model (process color, four color) is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black).� Four-color process printing is ideal for producing colour to be used in graphics, images, and print media. Images appear much more bright and vivid when using four-colour process compared to two colour processes. The technique involves splitting cyan, yellow, magenta and black (CMYK) inks using filters and screens. This method is beneficial as it allows printing that looks identical to the original artwork or close to it. In addition, the highest quality when using processed ink can be attained when printed on coated paper using a varnish finish.

In order to achieve prints of different colour when using traditional techniques such as woodblock printing, the process would consume much more time as each layer of colour would require a separate block prepared. Digital production of images are much more easier. One reasons being that mistakes, which could be permanent on a woodblock, can be simply undone a publishing software.

In view of the fact that Ford began running many years ago, I feel that publications produced such as promotional posters and logos would be very appropriate for my essay. I intend to compare some of the publications designed for this specific company over the course of time in order to prove my thesis accurate or inaccurate and draw a conclusion. I could also consider main events or other long running businesses which have had a large series of adverts, magazines, posters or logos such as the Olympics, Shell and BP.

[9] Ford Motor is an American international automaker established in Dearborn, Michigan which is a suburb of Detroit. It was originated by Henry Ford and officially formed into a legal corporation on June 16, 1903. Childe Harold Wills; recognized as one of the first employees of the Ford Motor Company, is accredited with designing the "Ford" logo’s calligraphy script that is still currently in use, along with Henry Ford. This is due to his early interest in mainstream calligraphy and art.

[10] Overhead is the first ever Ford Motors logo produced in 1903. It was printed in one colour; similar to the William Morris print. The calligraphic script was originally used for corporate communications. However, it was later decided that the first production car which was the Model A would use it. Ford Company designed the original logo for the car; finished with an art nouveau style, floral border which was very refined and stylish during that time.

A more advanced style of script was introduced in 1906. The long-tailed "F" and "D" letters and was acknowledged as the "script with wings". Until the end of 1910, this logo was used on every Ford car produced. At this point, the typeface was reviewed yet again and modified to the form that is still currently in use to

this date. In 1909, the Ford script trademark was eventually registered at the United States Patent Office.

British agents Perry, Thornton and Schreiber who were the precursors of the Ford Motor Company Limited based in Great Britain used the preliminary Ford oval in 1907. This oval was used with intent to publicize the Ford as the "hallmark for reliability and economy".

By means of coalescing the script and the oval, Ford created the decisive logo in 1911. It was used predominantly to distinguish Ford merchants in the UK. Nonetheless, the Ford vehicles and company communications sustained the use of the calligraphy script up until the late 1920s.

Conversely, Ford diverged from the oval concept and replaced it with a winged triangle design for their cars. Initially designed to symbolize swiftness, dexterity, refinement and permanency; the logo was fashioned in orange or dark blue and the words "The Universal Car" was written beneath the script typeface “Ford”. For the reason that Henry Ford rejected this proposal, it was promptly obsoleted. This was the first time Ford began to produce logos in colour; possibly because the use of colour was fashionable at the time.

The reinvented Model A manufactured in 1927 was the leading Ford vehicle, which conveyed the Ford oval design as an emblem on the radiator. The Ford oval badge was not used on Ford automobiles until the mid-1970s when it was re-introduced. However it was used regularly for corporate communications.

Ford began producing logos using desktop publishing software. This allowed them to produce 3D effects as well as metal textures with ease. The blue and silver Ford oval is widely recognized as it is the credential emblem used on all Ford vehicles as well as factories, amenities and products worldwide. In 2003 Ford celebrated 100 years of production and revealed a restructured logo. The latest logo, labeled the Centennial Blue Oval.

Accompanied by Adidas’s Trifecta and Nike’s Swoosh logo, Ford's renowned Blue Oval is one of the world's most identifiable logos. Though the logo has been modified (improved or unimproved based on Henry Ford’s opinion) over the years it has been operating, the Ford Motor Company has produced an iconic logo, which has been proven to be very successful. Ford’s net income was +US $20.21 billion in 2011. This demonstrates the advancement made in designing from an old-fashioned logo to a contemporary one and how the improvement and development of technology has only had a progressive impact on “todays design world” evidencing my thesis acceptable. [11] Contrariwise, the variation of technology and techniques used to produce compositions in recent times; some would say has had a negative impact on “today’s design world” as it deducts authenticity. Art in the 20th century famously described by critic Walter Benjamin as had “lost its aura”.

Benjamin elaborates on the loss of the aura; stating that it is due to the

automated/motorized form of art i.e. desktop publishing. Benjamin defines the aura of art as the inventiveness and genuineness of a work of art that cannot replicated. He believes a painting has an aura as it is completely original and demands passion from an artist. Whereas a photograph does not; it is captured simply at the press of a button. “The sense of the aura is lost on film and the reproducible image itself demonstrates a historical shift that we have to take account of even if when we don’t necessarily notice it.� [12]

Above are the pages of a Zine I recently created based on skateboarding and the stereotypical label skateboarders are given. I designed these pages using desktop publishing; a combination of photography and a graphics editing software. This combination is definitely not an old fashioned method that I used. However I believe I still managed to reach a successful outcome due to the positive feedback I received from people of different ages. I even managed to replicate a book-like effect without physically printing my Zine. If I used an old technique such as woodblock printing, I would have struggled to create some of these pages. This would have also been very time consuming. This goes to show that improved technology does not deduct from a graphic designer’s capabilities. It also allows designers to experiment with ideas much more with limited resources and below is just a fraction of all the developments I was able to produce in the process of reaching my final outcomes.

Concisely, the impact of technology on today’s design world is very constructive. The technology available to artists today allows artists to be more experimental with their work. I strongly disagree with Walter Benjamin’s statement that art has “lost its aura” or authenticity because almost every designer takes inspiration from another and some even try re-invent another’s style. This includes designers from all periods of time. Even Johannes Gutenberg based his idea of a printing press on a screw press. The improvement of technology provides artists of today’s design world with a number of benefits. One of these is the fact that it allows designers like me to be able to produce designs in a limited amount of time. For example, for my Zine project, I had to produce all 11 pages in less than 2 weeks before the deadline.

I had all the photographs I needed available either online or captured with a camera and using a graphics editing software, I was able to design these effective and of high quality pages. If I was required to do this when the printing press was the only method available, I would not have been able to meet the deadline while achieving the same quality and quantity of pages. This is because even simply trying to use different colours would be very time consuming as the paint has to dry before a subsequent layer of colour can be added. With desktop publishing software, I have access to countless amounts of colours, shades as well as layers at the click of a button. Errors can be undone without having to start again. To be able to save files and edit them whenever means that artists can easily refer to and develop old work or work in progress.

The Ford Company’s logo is evidence of a constantly developing design. The different stages of it exhibit a change in the choice of method and technique used

to design. Considering that the current Ford logo is one of the most iconic logos, I would surmise that translation from printing press to desktop publishing has only improved the design.

Therefore to draw a conclusion, I would strongly surmise that that the development of technology has had a very positive and constructive impact on “today’s design world” because it allows artists to effectively and efficiently produce designs as well as develop them. Bibliography:

[1] [2]

[3] [4]


[6] [7]

[8] [9]


[11] [12]


A graphic design essay which explores how today's design world is affected by technology.

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