Tuesday, 8:00am
29 July 2008

Googling the canon

martha scotford
Design history
Graphic design

For this special issue of Eye, we put 93 designers into the search engine

Nearly two decades ago, historian Martha Scotford analysed five key books (including Meggs’ History) to discover what the canon of graphic design history might be.

To make this diagram for Eye no. 68 , our ‘Beyond the canon’ special issue, we Googled 93 designers’ names – 63 from her original research*, plus 30 others. The names were placed in the search field in inverted commas: e.g. “Saul Bass”, “Piet Zwart”. Linear plotting means that popular figures such as Man Ray, William Morris and Marjane Satrapi (see Eye 50) run off the page. Don’t try this at home. Read Martha Scotford’s Afterword on the Eye website.

* ‘Is There a Canon of Graphic Design History?’ (AIGA Design Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, 1991, reprinted in Design Culture, ed. Steven Heller and Marie Finamore, 1997).

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.