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Meggs' History of Graphic Design 5th Edition

96 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470168738
ISBN-10: 0470168730
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Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with Author Alston W. Purvis

What’s new in this edition?
The fifth edition has additional coverage of the Middle East, Spain, Portugal, South America, and China as well as multi-media and motion graphics. Also, much in the last chapters is new, since graphic design history is changing almost daily. The last chapters are always the most difficult since we are living in the same period when things are happening.

What are the biggest differences between the last edition and this new edition?
In the last edition, I included many more images and improved the quality of others. Resulting from additional research and discoveries, I naturally made changes to the text, but I essentially maintained the same basic structure of the book. This process continued but far more extensively in the fifth edition.

How do you choose the designers who are in the book?
Designers were chosen for having made significant contributions to Graphic Design history. What distinguishes a master from his or her colleagues is both perplexing and difficult. Although every effort is made to avoid this, there will inevitably be the realization that an important figure was omitted. However, the accomplishments of significant individuals that have withstood the test of time will continue to inspire us.

With so much information to cover, do you find it difficult to revise this title?
Phil Meggs often said—and I agree—that one of the gratifying aspects of this book was being able to write the next edition, as you find things that you missed earlier and that each issue becomes more refined and richer in scope.

Do you receive a lot of feedback from readers?
I welcome and greatly value feedback in every stage of the writing and editing. The feedback I do receive usually involves a point of disagreement, such as having omitted a designer or point. But I welcome any positive or negative input from all sources. Comments from teachers are especially useful, as I find it important to learn how the book is used in classroom situations.

From the Inside Flap

The classic "bible" of graphic design history—now fully revised and updated!

This is the unrivaled, comprehensive, and award-winning reference tool on graphic design recognized for publishing excellence by the Association of American Publishers. Now, this Fifth Edition of Meggs' History of Graphic Design offers even more detail and breadth of content than its heralded predecessors, revealing a saga of creative innovators, breakthrough technologies, and important developments responsible for paving the historic paths that define the graphic design experience. In addition to classic topics such as the invention of writing and alphabets, the origins of printing and typography, and postmodern design, this new Fifth Edition presents new information on current trends and technologies sweeping the graphic design landscape—such as the web, multimedia, interactive design, and private presses, thus adding new layers of depth to an already rich resource.

With more than 1,400 high-quality images throughout—many new or newly updated—Meggs' History of Graphic Design, Fifth Edition provides a wealth of visual markers for inspiration and emulation. For professionals, students, and everyone who works with or loves the world of graphic design, this landmark text will quickly become an invaluable guide that they will turn to again and again.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 5 edition (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470168730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470168738
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.5 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Philip B. Meggs is a designer, educator, and author. He is School of the Arts Research Professor, Communication Arts and Design Department, at Virginia Commonwealth University; visiting faculty at Syracuse University and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland, and a Contributing Editor to Print magazine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Vlad Golovach on February 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book but the Kindle version is awful - bad styles, low image resoluton. The publisher should be spanked for such product, considered that you can always buy Inkling version that is so much better prepared.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By AvidReader on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Megg's History of Graphic Design just keeps getting better. The author's completely re-wrote some sections of this book, and added new information. The topics covered bring you right up to contemporary designers/work. Designers from all over the world are also featured. Some of the older sections have also been re-worked, included better quality and color images for early printed books. The section on the development of modernism (in Russia, Europe, and the US) is better than anything you will find in comparable history books. This still leads the field in Graphic Design history. I wish I could have used this version of the text when I was in school. It is definitely a must have for anyone who calls themselves a designer; it seems expensive, but you will get your money's worth out of it. And the book itself, physically, is very high quality and will last a long time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on November 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is incredible. If you are a graphic designer, I highly recommend it for your library of inspiration and resource.

Meggs' History of Graphic Design provides such rich history and insight into the world of expression through visual communication. It starts with cave drawings and the origins of the Alphabet to the new digital age and everything in between.

I was surprised to learn how much of our ancestors' findings are used to this day, including origins of font names, and basic printing methods.

The book also goes into explicit detail on how visual evolution was, and still is, so profoundly affected by world economics, war and revolution.

Of course, a book of this caliber would not be complete without images and succinct footnotes. Great to flip through for design inspiration.

If anyone thinks we just "make things pretty" or "doodle all day", well, they're probably just jealous. However, if you want to put them in their place, hand them this resource. This book truly makes me proud to be a graphic designer.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By julie on December 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a designer, having a copy of Megg's History of Graphic Design is very helpful. Not only is it a thorough history of design touching upon the start of the alphabet, typography, printing, web design, and everything in between, it's great to get some inspiration for your next project. This latest edition is full of high quality, colorful images and fantastic examples of graphic design pieces that at times in history have been decorative, inspirational, informative, useful and educational.

Going through this 570 page book, it's easy to see how extensive the world of graphic design is. Megg's touches upon several design movements (Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Post Modernism, American Craft), as well as international design, and the way they reflect the times and lifestyles and influence on the world. While this tried and true Megg's History of Graphic Design has been brought up to date, it should be reminded that this is written as a text book and is heavy on copy. The final chapter makes this latest edition complete with it's write up and visual examples of digital design. I mean, this book is showing cave drawings in Chapter 1 and magazine covers on an iPad in the last chapter! You can't get more thorough than that.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Hans Reinhardt VINE VOICE on January 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The late Philip Meggs was responsible for producing the single greatest book I've read on the history of graphic design, and since he died in 2002 others have taken up the task of revising this work. Unfortunately, this venerable text is getting compromised, and I found this Fifth Edition larded with obsequious, toothless writing. I'll give a couple of examples:

Page 60-61 covers the area of illuminated Persian manuscripts and painting. It's a nice enough little passage I suppose about Islam being "one of the world's greatest religions", but instead of a meaningful discussion and comparison of these works with European manuscripts, there is almost zero criticism. I'm just not seeing the "magnificent" history of Persian painting or how many of these manuscripts provided anything new or groundbreaking. Incidentally, Sir Kenneth Clarke covered this issue in some detail back in the 1960s with his BBC series "Civilisation".

The last and newest chapter of the book covers iPhone apps, internet applications, "typography in the built environment" and other hybrid beasts that now pass for graphic art. There is a brief write-up on motion graphic and special attention given to Hollywood's Danny Yount. Personally, I found his vector-graphics titles for "Kiss, Kiss Bang Bang" totally imitative, unoriginal "Bass-lite"; a parody of styles crafted by the pioneering commercial artists of the 1960s. Honestly, I'd expect a bit more of a critical discussion from a book that is at the epicenter of the design camp (not the film world). There's been an awful lot of this nostalgia in title sequences, whether it be "Catch Me If You Can", "Monsters, Inc." or even French "OSS 177" movies.
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