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Stylepedia: A Guide to Graphic Design Mannerisms, Quirks, and Conceits Paperback – November 2, 2006
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About the Author
Steven Heller is the art director of the New York Times Book Review and the author, co-author, or editor of over 90 books on design and popular culture. He is the recipient of the 1999 AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement.
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It an interesting size as well which was kind of refreshing.
The entries, as the authors rightly point out in the introduction, are their own choice for what they consider worthwhile graphic styles from the last hundred years or so. I thought the selection, at times, seems rather esoteric. What styles can be derived from the entries on Mini mannequins (seen on shop counters) Chinese calendar girls or Ripley's Believe it or not? Here they are though and it's certainly worth reading about them. No doubt readers will have their own worthwhile contributions to graphic styles missing from the book. Mine would be: Champion Papers 'Imagination' paper sample books, Twen magazine (the very influential German title) Blue Note record covers, Pentagram, Photolettering Inc and the USA Today weather maps.
The book is nicely designed but rather text heavy. I would have preferred more illustrations in a book dealing with essentially visual themes and I wish the authors had gone to the trouble of including, where practical, a suggested book at the end of each entry. There is a bibliography in the back with titles that have a generalised overview of the subject. The word conceit in the title blurb is very apposite because the book has its own conceit: finger tabs in a book of 336 pages. With so few pages the tabs have to be in three stages making it needlessly difficult to flip over the pages while using the cross references, so it gets four stars.
I found Stylepedia an interesting read for revealing lots of historical background to graphic styles that are taken for granted today. A book that complements it could be The Dictionary of Graphic Images by Philip Thompson and Philip Davenport. A reference guide with over 1500 commercial graphic items mostly designed in the forties to the seventies. Like Stylepedia it is arranged alphabetically with captions and designer credits.
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
The book is an alphabetical listing of styles and design movements from victorian to today (and maybe a few further back in time). The information written about each movement/style is concise but more than enough to give you a the context you need.
The articles are short enough that this book would be a great bathroom book for your studio or even just to read one-a-day. Keep it close to your desk cause it is a very accessible reference book. Looking up stuff on the fly is easy.
I think this is a must have for anyone who wants to be informed. By knowing about style, you can use styles smartly in graphic design and the stylings will actually function as content, augmenting the messages you're trying to communicate.