Sep 15, 2014

Balancing Graphic Design And Illustration

By Paul Schmitt   Posted at  2:58 PM  Sep 15, 2014   prints No comments

Ferdinando Ongania Early Venetian Printing Illustrated
This book is part of Archive.org - a collection of rare and important historical books.

Illustration and Graphic Design are thought of as two separate disciplines. This can be the case. They are two separate job descriptions. However, in many important ways the two over-lap. Not only in the document, newspaper, catalog or web site that they appear in but in the purpose that they serve.

And that purpose is simple: relay information is a structured way.

In catalogs, art falls on top of photography with sizes, prices or shipping information. On a website, borders, shadows and artwork shape the borders that photography appears in. It is a technique that is used so much that it is almost invisible.

What about examples of these techniques in another era? We should be able to spot the transitions and archiac techniques much more quickly there.

The goal in 1500 is the same as now: relate important information with a balance of Graphic Design and Illustration.

Ferdinando Ongania's Early Venetian Printing Illustrated, the book above, was originally published in 1895 but covers Italian Renaissance prints and illustration work from roughly 1400 to 1600. Here, there there are is an incredible integration of graphic design (text and textual elements) and illustration.

Since there is no photography, the balance is achieved by placement of elements with a structural similarity. The text seems illustrated and the illustrations contain text.

We can see this harmony at work but without the slick gradients, shading layers and glossy styles that are commonplace today. The important thing to remember is that these Classic era designers had the exact same purpose that Designers and Illustrators have today, and no mutually exclusive job titles.

For further reading, Artist and Designer Johnathon Coulthart has a review of individual pages and styles from this book at his blog Feuilleton.

About the Author

Paul Schmitt started Gargantuan Media after he graduated from college at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2003. Since then, he has worked for Fortune 500 publishers and retailers as a Graphic Artist, Web Designer and Designer across the county. He has directed documentary films, published comics and animated short films. He currently lives and works in the Indianapolis area.
View all posts by: Paul Schmitt

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