Eric Gill (1882 – 1940)

Eric Gill (Born Arthur Eric Rowton Gill) was a Brighton, England born sculptor, graphic artist, engraver, writer and type designer best known for his serene and simplistic lettering. Gill was trained in the arts at the Chichester Technical and Art School, then moved on to study architecture in London during the year 1900. Soon after a period of three years, he became annoyed with his studies and went on to pursue other ventures in calligraphy instead at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where he became strongly influenced by his teacher Edward Johnston the designer of the London Underground typeface. From then on he joined the Arts and Crafts community and began letter carving and monumental stone masonry.

His first major work which he gained great public recognition for, was his figure sculpture of the year 1912 entitled, Mother and Child. He later went on to inspire an English revival of traditional direct stone carving instead of using clay models. In the year 1914, he began carving the stations of the cross for Westminster Cathedral and later that same year he met Stanley Morison, a typographic consultant for the Monotype Corporation. Gill would eventually in the year 1925, design his first typeface called Perpetua named after his daughter, which was commissioned by Morison. The uppercase letterforms were based on Roman inscriptions and was followed closely in 1927 by his most famous typeface, Gill Sans based on the sans-serif lettering of Edward Johnston. His controversial book ‘An Essay on Typography’, was published in 1931 and featured the use of yet another typeface this one named Joanna after his other daughter.

Gill the ever restless designer moved to Buckinghamshire in 1928, where he set up a lettering workshop and printing press whilst also taking in a number of notable apprentices who included John Skelton, David Kindersley and Donald Potter.

Eric Gill Artwork


Gill Sans (1927), Eric Gill


Joanna typeface (1931), Eric Gill


Eric Gill Inspired Artwork


BBC Logo (1997), Martin Lambie-Nairn


Silent Alarm Album cover (2005)




Pop Art (1950 – 1970)

One of the most popular phenomena and influential movement in the visual arts, came in the early 1950s where art was inspired by popular culture which gave it the title “Pop Art”. Pop Art came into fruition due to the growing sense of optimism which resulted from the post war consumer growth of the 1950s to 1960s. The movement was in close sync with the globalisation of pop music, commercial culture and ideas, such as the rise to fame of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Pop Art was a reaction and riot against the traditional views, approaches and ideas into what was considered to be art. The popular subject matter of the time took on a drastic metamorphosis from the norms which included themes of idealism, mortality, hierarchy and history; but instead focused on everyday life. It is due to its use of commercial imagery at times within designs, that Pop art became one of the most recognisable and iconic styles of the modern era.

Pop art drew inspiration from every and anything which was going on at the time such as Hollywood movies, advertising, packaging for consumer products, pop music, celebrities and comic books, then incorporated them into its imagery. Some key pop artists include Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol. Modernists were appalled by the relatively low subject matter of pop art, but the movement developed several new channels for viewing art out of a belief that everything was interconnected, a notion indicative of postmodern thinking.

Pop art went onto to be the main inspiration for several artist who followed but like the movements which preceded it, was eventually discarded as installation art, performance art and particularly new media art took centre stage. In the 1980s however, Pop Art received a resurgence as a Neo-Pop movement spearheaded by artists such as Jeff Koons who like Andy Warhol before him, appropriated images of pop culture icons and consumer products as a means of pressing the buttons of high art.

Pop Artwork


Whaam! (1963), Roy Lichtenstein


Pop Art Inspired Artwork


Nighthawks (2009), Jonathan Freyer


Yes We Can, Marie B. Cros


Art Deco (1925 – 1940)

Art Deco was a movement in art and architecture, characterised by its emphasis on the decorative arts as well as being a reaction to the excesses of the previous Art Nouveau. It emerged during the year 1925, where it was first put on display at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The style received popular recognition throughout Europe and soon after spread to the rest of the world as a wave of artistic and architectural sensibilities. It was like the aesthetic of Art Nouveau before it focused on the use of angular, often symmetrical geometric forms. One such classical example of Art Deco can be seen in the exterior design of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings of New York City built in the 1930s.

The Art Deco style featured smooth uninterrupted lines, streamlined forms, ornamental elements and at times gaudy colour schemes. It was in its beginnings a luxury style whose designs were centred on elegance, sophistication, wealth, prosperity and also individuality as a reaction to the austerity of World War I.  Although hailing itself as a unique style, it drew influence from the art movements before it such as Futurism, Fauvism, Cubism and many others. The style which thrived on formalism held no philosophical or socio-economic basis and was meant to be purely aesthetic.

Although Art Deco survived through much of the Great Depression of the 20th century, a serious blow was dealt to it during the atrocities of the Second World War. It felt a fall in popularity as it was seen as too garish and flamboyant for the wartime mood and fell from grace as quickly as the Art Nouveau movement before it. Nevertheless, Art Deco would reappear throughout the latter part of the 20th-century affecting the Pop Art of the 1950s, and also in the 1980s with the growing popularity of graphic design and illustration.

Art Deco Artwork


The Chrysler Building (1930), William Van Alen


Rockefeller Center (1939), Raymond Hood

Art Deco Inspired Artwork


The Great Gatsby Poster (2013), Like Minded Studio & Bazmark


Shop Cover (2013), Mads Berg



Claude Garamond (1480 – 1561)

Claude Garamond was one of the most reputable and renowned typographers of all time, whose name has in some respects become synonymous with type design. Born in Paris, France in 1940, Garamond began his illustrious career as an apprentice of the fellow Parisian printer and punch-cutter, Antoine Augereau in 1510. Garamond surrounded himself with many multi-talented professionals who had mastered several artistic and technical skills in order to produce the finest books of the period. It should also be noted that Garamond was the first to specialize in the service of typography to many publishers in Paris.

Following a decade of success in his craft, he was called upon by King Francois I of France to produce a Greek typeface which became known as “Grecs du Roi”. The three sets of fonts which were produced were inspired by the handwriting of Angelos Vergetios and was carved to 16 point. In the year 1545, Garamond became a publisher and featured his own type which included a brand new italic. The first book which he published was “Pia et religiosa Mediatio” by David Chambellan. These books were set with typefaces designed by Garamond himself. He utilized his disciplined creativity to develop wonderfully elegant and legible products. This was also shown in his great attention to clarity of design, page margin width, composition as well as paper and printing materials.

Due to the functionality of Garamond’s productions his typefaces have been used for what is closely approaching 700 years and will likely be utilized by typographers for many years to come. Possibly one of his greatest contributions to type design, was when the gothic and black letterforms of old were replaced by Garamond’s pristine and easily readable roman typefaces. It has been reproduced by many typographers throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th and even to this day in the 21st century due to this ease of legibility.

Claude Garamond’s Artwork


Garamond Original (1530), Claude Garamond


Gospel Estienne’s 1950 edition with Garamond’s “Grecs du Roi” typeface

Claude Garamond Inspired Artwork


Abercrombie & Fitch Logo


Sabon Typeface (1967), Jan Tschichold


De Stijl (1917 – 1931)

De Stijl was founded in the year 1917 by two of the greatest pioneers of abstract art, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg. De Stijl, literally meaning “style” in Dutch, was a movement which was focused on the simplification of abstract elements into basic geometric forms such as squares and triangles, often pigmented by primary colours. The use of these fundamental features of composition, disregarded design principles such as symmetry and instead was focused on the balanced relationship between surfaces and colour distribution. This movement like its many other predecessors, was a reaction to the ideas portrayed in the productions which came before it and in this case it was the decorative excess of Art Deco. It was also seen as a reaction to the traumatic events of World War I and was an attempt to remake society into a modern utopia.

Practitioners of De Stijl, applied their designs to a variety of media showing their innovations and their single vision to create the ideal blend between form and function. With this ethos in mind, De Stijl artists utilised not only the fine arts of painting and sculpture, but ventured into the uncharted waters of industrial design, typography, literature and even music. Its impact was seen most recognisably in architecture which gave birth to the International style of the early 20th-century. Although De Stijl was created as a means of producing a utopia or unleashing one’s spiritual potential, the later understanding that this idealised vision was simply a dream may have been what ultimately caused the group’s demise.

The simplified aesthetics of the De Stijl influenced many designers of the 20th-century such as the abstract expressionists, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman as well as the Minimalists Donald Judd and Dan Flavin. Although I have expressed on many an occasion that I am not a big fan of pure primary colours as to me they seem visually overpowering, I cannot help but be fascinated by the art of the De Stijl movement. The artists understood the relationship between primary colours, and the strain they can cause on the vision which was addressed as seen for instance in Piet Mondrian’s “Composition A”. Mondrian used all primary colours but incorporated neutral colours in such a subtle way that it gives the viewers a space which their eyes can rest which was clever to me.

De Stijl Artwork


Piet Mondrian (1935), Composition C


Theo Van Doesburg (1917), Composition VII

De Stijl Inspired Artwork


Donald Judd (1989), Untitled


Mark Rothko (1950), White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)


Adrian Frutiger (1928 – 2015)

Adrian Frutiger was a Swiss typeface designer born in 1928,  and is known specifically for the influence he had in the development of digital typography during the latter part of the 20th-century. As a young man he took on an apprenticeship as a compositor, then eventually decided to continue his training in type design and graphic art at the school of Arts and Crafts in Zurich, Switzerland from 1949 to 1951.

Frutiger travelled to Paris in 1952, where he worked as a artistic manager and typeface designer for Deberny & Peignot. The first typefaces he spawned were Phoebus (1953), Ondine (1954) and Meridien (1955) then went on to produce some of the earliest type for photocomposition. He rose to international acclaim as a typographer when he created the Univers sans-serif font, developed for metal and film in 1957. He later founded his own studio in Arcueil in 1951, with the aid of Bruno Pfäffli and André Gürtler. In the early 1970s he created a typeface for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, which went onto become release in 1977 as the typeface Frutiger.

In the year 1988, Frutiger produced the popular typeface family known as Avenir, which he developed as a more humanist version of the popular sans-serif type of the early 20th-century such as Futura. states “The original Avenir family is made up of designs with gradual weight changes in order to satisfy the needs of specific text applications”. Along with Akira Kobayashi, they both renovated the family in 2004 to produce Avenir Next which fixed some on-screen display issues. Avenir Next is also admittedly my favourite typeface even more than the Futura type which had a direct influence of its formal features. I enjoy this type because of the sheer simplicity of its forms, organised and uniform line-weight and removal of the serifs which to me seem more decorative than anything else here in the modern.

Adrian Frutiger Artwork


Avenir (1988), Adrian Frutiger


Ondine (1954), Adrian Frutiger

Adrian Frutiger Inspired Artwork


American Honda Motor Company Logo


My Disney Experience Logo


Paul Renner (1878 – 1956)

Paul Renner was born in Wernigerode, Germany on August 9, 1878, and is another well-known graphic artist, painter, type designer, author and teacher. He is perhaps best known for developing the Futura typeface, which became one of the most successful and utilised typefaces of the 20th-century. Futura known as a milestone creation of the 20th-century, had a major influence on both modern and postmodern typeface designs.

Renner grew up to develop a strong sense of leadership, devotion and responsibility and this helped him in the nine years he took to learn Greek and Latin, then later took a keen interest in the study of the arts. In the year 1926, he was handed a position as the head of the Printing Trade School in Munich, which he accepted then eventually went on to become director of the Master School for Germany’s Printers. During his years of study, Renner developed a resistance to the wave of abstract expressionist art which was spreading across Europe at the time and sought a fascination with the functionalist strain in modernism.

Eventually in 1932, during the rise of the Nazi idealism, Renner took a stand against it by publishing his scandalous booklet, titled Kulturbolschewismus (Cultural Bolshevism) which denounced Nazi cultural policies. The year 1933 came and Renner was arrested and underwent a period of exile, where he sought to communicate his ideas on culture then attempted to enforce it through his writing, teaching and designing. His creative talents were utilised in the applied arts by designing books and typefaces. In these books, such as Die Kunst der Typographie (The Art of Typography), he set standards and guidelines as to the production of sophisticated book designs. It is in these published works, the crucial role in the invention of the typeface Futura is seen, where even to this day modern typographers still utilise this simple geometric sans-serif font.

Paul Renner Artwork


Paul Renner (1928), Futura Light


Paul Renner (1924), Futura

Paul Renner Inspired Artwork


Historical plaque of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module


Avenir (1988), Adrian Frutiger


Giambattista Bodoni (1740 – 1813)

Born in Saluzzo (Piedmont), on February 16, 1740 was an Italian engraver, publisher and printer and typographer, remembered chiefly for the typeface which carries his name called Bodoni. He eventually left home to go to Rome, where he served as an apprentice at the Vatican’s Propaganda Fide printing press. Bodoni’s contemporaries of the time, were astounded by the young man’s gift for detail and mastery of ancient languages. In 1768, Bodoni became the head of the Royal Press “Stamperia Reale”, then later became inspired by the typefaces of Pierre Fourier and John Baskerville to begin making his own typefaces. Soon after he developed his first four pattern book entitled “Saggio tipografivo di fregi e maiuscole”. During the same period the publishing house began producing popular classical literary works such as Gerusalemme Liberate of Torquato Tasso and Homer’s ‘Iliad’.

The typeface that carried the “Bodoni” name first appeared in 1789 and was concerned with proportionality, boldness, drama and symmetry. Bodoni’s type featured vertical alignments with sloped swellings in the bowls of letters, horizontal serifs which were thin and uniform and an increased contrast between stems and serifs. Bodoni’s typefaces showed a formal sense illustrated in the simplified forms infused with the purity of materials. Many artists and other professionals eventually became his admirers and imitators until his popularity soon overtook that of other well known typographers.

It is said that Bodoni was personally responsible for engraving up to 298 typefaces and as the leader of many publishing houses throughout his life, he aided in the development of twelve hundred fine editions. Some notable publications which he was credited for are Horace, the Divine Comedy and Virgil. Bodoni also known as the “prince of typographers”, died in 1813 and his most important work, the “Manuale tipografico” was published posthumously in 1818 by his widow, Margherita Dall’Aglio.

Giambattista Bodoni Artwork


Manuale tipografico (1818), Giambattista Bodoni


Original Bodoni (1798), Giambattista Bodoni

Giambattista Bodoni Inspired Artwork


Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ Album Art (1991), Robert Fisher


Vogue Magazine Logo


Minimalism (1950s – 1960s)

Minimalism emerged in New York during the 1950s, and was a major movement of the postmodern era in art, characterised by the strict emphasis artist’s paid to simplicity of both form and content. This art movement was seen as a response to the excesses of Abstract Expressionism and was closely associated with Jacques Derrida’s theory of Deconstruction. Minimalist artists aimed to remove the distractions of composition and theme in order to allow viewers to experience the materiality of artwork. The movement evolved from the simplistic geometric forms seen in earlier artworks such as Kazmir Malevich’s “Black Circle” of 1913, and Marcel Duchamp’s “Ready-Mades”. However, one of the first artist linked to the movement was the abstract expressionist painter, Frank Stella whose black and white “pin-striped” paintings gained great popularity by 1959.

Minimalist paintings and sculptures primarily consisted of precise geometric forms with smooth coloured or uncoloured planes. These artworks were also focused away from emotional or socio-political content such as hierarchy by depicting geometrically regular and often repeated compositions. A minimalist painter or sculptor for instance would’ve been more interested in how viewers perceived the relationships between different design elements rather than getting into any underlying reasoning. Minimalist artist sought to removing the distinctions between painting and sculpture where we see yet another manifestation of post modern thinking. The movement primarily rejected the 1930s Formalist notions suggested by Clement Greenberg and his contemporaries, which to them limited their means of artistic exploration.

During the late 1960s however, Minimalism began to expand into other artistic disciplines such as Art and Objecthood and Post-Minimalism which incorporated many new ideals, use of new media and philosophies. Land art for example was one such alternate means of art appreciation , born from Post-Modern or Post-Minimal thinking as it challenged the notions of what was considered sculpture. Michael Heizer and his other contemporaries henceforth sought to do away with structured gallery spaces, and chose to instead transform the outdoor environment into an artistic material.

Minimalist Artwork


Blue (1953), Ad Reinhardt


Steel Aluminium Plain (1969), Carl Andre

Minimalist Inspired Artwork

D800 2012-07-20-065-1a.jpg

All about Minimalism (2012), Kuki Walsch


Christian Beirle Gonzalez, Minimal Exposition


Art Nouveau (1890 – 1905)

Art Nouveau was a visual arts movement and avant-garde global modern art style that came to prominence from the year 1890 to the First World War. Pre-dominantly stylistic in appearance, the movement emerged as a response to the earlier designs of the 19th-century such as neoclassicism. The movement focused primarily on modernising aesthetics, by the use of various groundbreaking styles and techniques, as a means of breaking free from the popular historical styles of the previous century. Practitioners of the style, sought inspiration from both organic and inorganic forms to produce designs with naturalistic contours.The style was also applied to a variety of different art forms which included architecture, fine art, applied art and the decorative arts.

A breakthrough came for the style by the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where it began to spread across Europe, the United States and Australia under different names such as Jugendstil (Germany) and the Tiffany style (America). It was a supremely decorative style consisting of smooth sweeping curvilinear patterns of serpentine asymmetrical lines, inspired by plant forms. The style was most common to glassware, jewellery and ceramics but was also applied to utensils, furniture, lighting, drawing, poster art, book illustration and even at times interior/exterior architecture.

The style although it promoted the overall beautification of design which was widely and quickly accepted by designers, was discarded just as quickly in the turn of the 20th-century. Even though the movement was geared towards the combination of form and function, many artists were excessive  in their use of decorative designs. This is seen primarily in many building exteriors which were overly elaborate and had little regard for functionality in design. Possibly the single greatest contribution Art Nouveau made to the evolution of design, was the emergence of the 1920s Art Deco style which replaced it, as well as being one of the foundations of the Bauhaus school.

Art Nouveau Artwork


Hotel Tassel Staircase (1893-4), Victor Horta


Interior Dome of the Grand Palais  (1897-1900)

Art Nouveau Inspired Artwork


Auditorium and stage of Radio City Music Hall (1932)


Spire of the Chrysler Building (1930), New York City