Spring 2019

Two cheers for publishing

A two-volume book packed with graphic design history is a visual blockbuster, but does little for scholarship. By Rick Poynor

Taschen’s The History of Graphic Design, in two volumes, is without doubt the most visually ambitious publication of its kind. It is another of those ‘sumo’-grade productions that the German publisher has made its own. Designer Jens Müller’s project runs to nearly 900 protein-pumped pages and packs in around 6000 images, covering 1890 to last year. It is a stunning advertisement for the subject: what an amazing discipline and calling graphic design has been. The picture researchers – strangely unacknowledged in the credits – deserve some equally outsized gold medals for their remarkable labours. Almost everything you might expect to see is in these two volumes somewhere, along with exciting quantities of much less familiar work.


Top. Spread of well known posters designed by Paula Scher for The Public Theatre in New York, 1990s. Book design by Jens Müller / optik.

Rick Poynor, writer, Eye founder, Professor of Design and Visual Culture, University of Reading

Read the full version in Eye no. 98 vol. 25, 2019


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. You can see what Eye 98 looks like at Eye Before You Buy on Vimeo.