Meggs' History of Graphic Design
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 innovators, breakthrough technologies, and important design innovations.

Meggs' History of Graphic Design Details

TitleMeggs' History of Graphic Design
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 1st, 2005
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
ISBN0471699020
ISBN-139780471699026
Number of pages575 pages
Rating
GenreDesign, Nonfiction, Art, History, Reference, Art Design

Meggs' History of Graphic Design Review

  • Victoria
    June 3, 2011
    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 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 had with this book was that for being a book ON graphic design, they really didn't take great care in designing it too well. The book is long and slightly dull as you'd expect any textbook to get after a while, but the sans-serif made it slightly even more painful, and the layout was very disorganized (figure references don't show up until pages after they're already been discussed, you can read a full spread of straight text -which is agonizing- and then skim through a full spread of pictures, etc). The book is set up to give you a general overview of each movement, so it can be a little frustrating when your favorite designer gets a paragraph of recognition and Herbert Bayer gets ten pages, but in all honesty you can't expect a subjective topic like design to be perfectly aligned with what you view as more important.All in all, I think its essential for any designer. Just like with painting, it's kinda hard to find your niche when you haven't had a chance to study the renaissance. It's definitely enriched my design background and vocabulary. You have to know your rules before you can break them, but you also have to know your history so you can see why people made the rules in the first place.
    more
  • Kass Johns
    September 26, 2012
    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 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 of mostly text) in a SERIF typeface to ease the reader into a flow and continue to advance when reading. My students and myself found ourselves constantly tripping over the fact we were re-reading paragraph lines of text we had already read. The typesetting and layout made advancing through the copy very difficult. Too bad the layout was terrible while the content was of good quality.Because this book is the only complete book on this subject I was forced to continue to use it. I used this bad layout/typesetting as a prime example of what NOT to do in design. It demonstrated to my students how a good message can be lost in bad design. (And vice versa) This topic generated many a good classroom discussions on the subject.
    more
  • Carrie
    October 17, 2008
    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 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 scope often seems narrow in a way that I feel I'm not seeing the big picture, but focusing on the details. Since a book that covers all the details and all of the big picture would be more than I can handle, I do ultimately prefer the style of this book (and know that I have to do more research on the topic to get a more rounded perspective).
    more
  • Jessica
    December 7, 2010
    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.
    more
  • 4D
    October 20, 2012
    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?
    more
  • Amy
    February 7, 2013
    Ugh. I really wanted to like this book. I wanted it to grab my attention and shake the creative out of me. I wanted to read it until my eyes were bleeding genius font. I wanted it to ask me on a date and take me away to a distant time and place, never turning back. I suppose had high expectations for a textbook, my fault. As some have already mentioned, the layout of the book is awful. With so much history involved, I think it's important to arrange pages in a way that will force/keep the reader Ugh. I really wanted to like this book. I wanted it to grab my attention and shake the creative out of me. I wanted to read it until my eyes were bleeding genius font. I wanted it to ask me on a date and take me away to a distant time and place, never turning back. I suppose had high expectations for a textbook, my fault. As some have already mentioned, the layout of the book is awful. With so much history involved, I think it's important to arrange pages in a way that will force/keep the reader focused. It's one of those awkward-sized books that is too big for both lap and table reading. It would be a great coffee table book, but it's got way too much information to be a random coffee table book. It's heavy. Having this book in my bag, on my back, with other books is a complete pain in the ass. The writing is rambly and sometimes I want the author to hurry up and get to the point. I could take a sharpie to many paragraphs and still get all pertinent information.It is very informative, there's nothing the author has missed. So those with a love of dry history textbooks will love it. Those wanting a brief introduction... there's nothing brief about this book. UPDATE:After the end of the course I was taking using this book, I decided I like it better than I had originally thought. My 3 star rating has increased to a hearty 4. It's very informative and can feel a bit overwhelming to start. It gets better. I get it. I dig it. I didn't sell it back to the campus bookstore, and that's saying something.
    more
  • Graham Herrli
    October 13, 2013
    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 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 at so-and-so time...for the purposes of understanding how various aspects of design history impact present work, the designer's personal lives are of little use to me. Instead, I would have found it more useful to see a comparison of similar styles with information on how to tell them apart and indications of the sentiment (including culture, time, place, and philosophy) evoked by each. The trivialities that make up much of the text (titles of the works, the names of the designers and their acquaintances, their education, and the names of the publications and presses they worked) for would be far better relegated to sidebars or appendices so that I wouldn't need to slog through them to find the useful information.
    more
  • Kass Johns
    September 26, 2012
    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 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 of mostly text) in a SERIF typeface to ease the reader into a flow and continue to advance when reading. My students and myself found ourselves constantly tripping over the fact we were re-reading paragraph lines of text we had already read. The typesetting and layout made advancing through the copy very difficult. Too bad the layout was terrible while the content was of good quality.Because this book is the only complete book on this subject I was forced to continue to use it. I used this bad layout/typesetting as a prime example of what NOT to do in design. It demonstrated to my students how a good message can be lost in bad design. (And vice versa) This topic generated many a good classroom discussions on the subject.
    more
  • Serith
    September 6, 2013
    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 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 could use some work).
    more
  • Chris
    January 18, 2008
    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.
    more
  • Jihad Lahham
    April 8, 2013
    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.
    more
  • James
    October 25, 2011
    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.
    more
  • Tony
    June 24, 2008
    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. :)
    more
  • Eddie
    December 11, 2008
    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?
    more
  • Carmen
    June 6, 2012
    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!
    more
  • Daria
    February 26, 2016
    I been using this book in my graphic design school. Everything in it well explained and with illustrations. On my opinion this is the best graphic design history book which exist nowadays. If you are student, don't hesitate to read it.
  • Cheryl
    December 15, 2015
    Although this book was very informative, I got lost in all of the names, dates, and places. I'm so glad that there were plenty of pictures to offset the text. For a textbook, it would have been nice to have used bold print for important items, like definitions and important people.
    more
  • Jerri
    January 13, 2014
    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.
    more
  • Linda
    December 14, 2016
    Honestly this is more of an encyclopedia than a history and has quite a few blind-spots (it is rarely critical or even intellectual in any way) but is quite useful as a reference for movements and images.
  • Lionel
    September 29, 2008
    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.
  • krad
    July 7, 2016
    Definitely your typical textbook. Solid info, good to have a cursory knowledge if you're in the industry - I for sure found a few names to go research further. (Muriel Cooper for example; founder of MIT Media Labs, and one of the greatest unsung women designers of recent years!)
    more
  • Gregory
    June 2, 2007
    I read this very heavy book for a class. It's got lots of nice pictures.
  • Ha Anh
    November 5, 2013
    i want to start with something interesting, so i choose this book
  • Chanel
    January 7, 2013
    This was a course book during my studies to become a graphic designer. Loved reading it.
  • Kim M-M
    October 25, 2008
    One of the most comprehensive histories of graphic design I've read.
  • Leighwoosey
    May 31, 2009
    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.
  • Alena Christian
    June 26, 2012
    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.
  • Victoria H.
    August 5, 2012
    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
    March 17, 2013
    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.
  • Lauren
    January 5, 2009
    Please borrow this from me!
Write a review