This is a great book written to give an accumulation of histories of different styles of art. This is perfect for the aspiring designer who wants to look to the past to see how specific styles were created and what they focused on. I've used it for a project about Push Pin Studio's style and it helped me further understand their love for textures and crazy typefaces.
I love this book! As a graphic designer, I appreciate both the content and the design. It is also a better reference book than I expected it to be. Even the most learned art history student will probably learn something new. It an interesting size as well which was kind of refreshing.
The two authors have scoured the rural routes of the graphic landscape to come up with 113 interesting entries for their book, from Agit retro to Zanol. If you haven't heard of Zanol, join the queue. It turns out this thirties founded company was an early style setter in having a corporate identity for its consumer product packaging and judging from the illustrations shown with the entry they probably worked, too.
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.
I picked up this book at a bookstore on a bit of a whim. I hadn't looked at it much when I purchased it but when I got home and dove in, I was very pleased!
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.