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Meggs' History of Graphic Design
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Meggs' History of Graphic Design

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  891 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Now in its Fourth Edition, this unrivaled, seminal work continues its long tradition of providing balanced insight and thorough historical background. Under the new authorial leadership of Alston Purvis, this authoritative book offers more than 450 new images, along with expansive coverage of such topics as Italian, Russian, and Dutch design. It reveals a saga of creative...more
Hardcover, 575 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 1983)
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I took a summer class on the History of Graphic Design and had to read this book...not cover-cover, but pretty close. It's the only class I've actually had the time to complete all of the assigned readings for, and I'm really glad I did. This book is the only one of its kind that I've found. I learned so much from it. It's always been very confusing to try to find where our history is (as graphic designers)...Meggs was the first to really pool all the information in one place.

The only qualms I...more
Kass Johns
I used to teach a course based on this book. The book, while the information contained within is good... is a great example of how to NOT design a book. The layout of the book makes this difficult to read and understand. The entire book is typeset in a swiss sans serif for the body copy. This made it extremely difficult for not only my students to read and comprehend, but also for myself. EVERY halfway decent Graphic Designer knows that body copy is always to be set (for any lengthy publication...more
Okay, so I didn't read the entire book, but I read enough that I can write a good review of it. This book was my first introduction to Graphic Design. This book should be mandatory for anyone who designs documents, marketing materials, or other medias for the public. It establishes a progressive history of where design ideas came from and what influenced the designers, along with the consequences (good and bad) of their actions. The writing style is easy to follow. My only criticism is that the...more
Jan 01, 2011 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in how graphic design came to be today
Recommended to Jessica by: my professor
I absolutely love art history, but am working on my degree in graphic design. This book was a recommended text to supplement a class and it is absolutely the most engaging textbook I've ever read. I do not think there are many other history books specific to design, and there certainly are none that could compare with the depth, detail and quality of information presented in Megg's History of Graphic Design.
An interesting and informative read, as well as inspiring. However, the last couple of chapters start ok but rapidly descend into what seems like a who's who, which becomes a little tedious.

In terms of layout too I found myself flipping backwards and forwards, marrying up images with the text references, which became slightly annoying. Bad design, in a design book?
Graham Herrli
The first couple chapters of this book are full of interesting information about the evolution of written language. After that the book bogs down in personal details of the designers' lives. For example, I now know that in the 1700s Bodoni in Italy and Didot in France were rivals in the development of more modern fonts, each borrowing from the other, and both drawing upon the earlier type designs of Baskerville. A lot of words are wasted on telling how so-and-so designer went to so-and-so place...more
Kass Johns
I used to teach a course based on this book. The book, while the information contained within is good... is a great example of how to NOT design a book. The layout of the book makes this difficult to read and understand. The entire book is typeset in a swiss sans serif for the body copy. This made it extremely difficult for not only my students to read and comprehend, but also for myself. EVERY halfway decent Graphic Designer knows that body copy is always to be set (for any lengthy publication...more
Can’t say I’m a huge sucker for art history, though this book somehow managed to make it pretty interesting. Some parts could be a touch dry, but it covers a lot. It was bought for college and kept for its relevance. For some reason I enjoy having it on my shelf and I don’t even know if I can pin point why? It did not always feel like work reading it ...and I have a hunch I may want to brush up on it again someday. Plus it’s very pretty (referring to the sample images – the book's typesetting co...more
The first text in this book, a quote from the Austrian Bauhaus artist Herber Bayer, "the creative process is not performed by the skilled hand alone, but must be a unified process in which "head, heart, and hand play a simultaneous role," guides this exhaustive examination of the graphical development of language through speech, writing, and eventually print and video. Covering most of the major developments in the graphic arts throughout historical times. Extremely comprehensive in scope.
Very interesting book, had to buy it for a Graphic Design History class, and as a previous poster said I might not sell it back after the class is done. It provided me with a more detailed background on the history of printing and design, type etc. which I knew nothing about, loved the pictures in the book as well. As a Photography major it definitely got me more interested in Graphic Design!
It amazes me that graphic design and designers don't get more respect. (It takes one to know). This book serves well to open eyes to the fact that concerted, skillful design exists all around us... and without the exceptional efforts of those exceptional individuals, we'd be in a world of hurt. ...Sort of makes you think of God, doesn't it?
Jun 24, 2008 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Art History and Graphic Design Students
Shelves: own
I have an earlier version of this book, but this was the book that established who was who in the history of graphic design for me. We had this book in lieu of a graphic design history course at my undergraduate school.

A must read for all graphic design and art history students. I wish it had more images, but I think that about every book. :)
An excellent overview of design from the origins of the word/symbol to nearly the present day. My only quibble is that Meggs drops descriptions of production techniques near the beginning of the 20th century--details that are informative in their own right and help you better understand the underlying art.
Jihad Lahham
a great read for every graphic designer. it's shame that they teach this book in college very briefly that students most likely hate it enough to never read it cover to cover. this is the kind of book that needs to be read more than one time and kept in proximity as a reference and constant inspiration.
I had to read this book for a History of Graphic Design class. The first part of the book was definitely interesting, but I have to admit that as the semester progressed I skimmed the rest of the chapters. I will have to reread this book in the future to fully appreciate it.
Feb 14, 2009 Lionel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who are taking a history of graphic design class only
Recommended to Lionel by: A so-so teacher
Shelves: for-school
This textbook was boring and dry in my experience and I am no textbook hater. I liked some of the information I learned in the book about Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing machine and also the illustrators of the dark ages.
April Baker
I LOVED this book... yes, it's can be a bit long & dull, but I still loved it. If you are a friend and ever hear me say "Gutenberg is the man" when talking about Spaceship Earth in Epcot... this book is the reason why.
Athena (Shardbearer)
This book is a must for all graphic designers.
A fantastic overview of the history of graphic design throughout the ages. It only misses 5 stars because it doesn't touch on a few key areas, but what it does address, it does so very well.
Finally a book that puts graphic design history into a digestible format. It's a textbook, for sure, but I read it front to back and then use it for reference ALL the TIME. Worth owning forever.
Thorough and expansive, not much can be said about this that hasn't been already. There's a reason it's the staple of every graphic design course's reading lists. A must for students.
Michael Oliver
Jan 22, 2008 Michael Oliver rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: artists
Recommended to Michael by: required reading
The only text book I was able to read like an actual book (cover to cover). The format, the content, the writing style- it was all top notch and very interesting.
Alena Christian

This is the book that made me want to become a graphic designer. It is well written, lots of photos and always a good source of inspiration.
May 30, 2008 Marci rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Graphic Design students
Recommended to Marci by: professor
Finished it. Read it for school. Pretty good, I may not sell it back at the end of the semester! I think I got an A in the class too. So, yeah!
Victoria H.
Wish I could pause time and re-read this book examining every beautiful example. It makes you fall in love with the visual world.
Cemile Armas
Best resource for Graphic Design history. I read every chapter and will re-read from time to time. A lot of visuals in the book as well.
Jul 14, 2008 Bryan marked it as to-read
After two years of working for design firms, it has become clear that I lack even the most basic grammar. Time to change that.
well, what is there to say. it's the de facto history book for graphic design. good to own.
Liston Morris
You don't have to be a graphic designer to love this book. You just have to enjoy history.
Bill Murray
The definitive text on graphic design. Required reading for anyone practicing the craft.
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Philip B. Meggs charted new territory in the field of graphic design history. His authoritative survey A History of Graphic Design was the first attempt at creating a definitive and linear history of the graphic design profession, charting its progress from the marks found in the caves of Lascaux to experimentation with digital media in the late 1990s. The book quickly became standard reading for...more
More about Philip B. Meggs...
Six Chapters in Design: Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Paul Rand, Ikko Tanaka, Henryk Tomaszewski Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography Type and Image: The Language of Graphic Design Revival of the Fittest: Digital Versions of Classical Typefaces David Carson: Fotografiks: An Equilibrium Between Photography and Design Through Graphic Expression That Evolves from Content

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