100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne

In another book journey I have taken in the university library and I have to say this is a really good one. I actually wanted to talk about this book because I’ve look into this around the same time as I posted my first book post but didn’t because time didn’t permitted me but I’ve managed this time to talk about it. As the very long title of this post suggests otherwise, its called ‘100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne, both of which are design critics, art directors and design writers from the USA. I do apology in advance if it seems like I’m rambling on in this post and the quality of images you’ll see in this post because I’ve taken them on a tablet that has poor quality camera.

For the people who haven’t read this book and is interested in Graphic Design, you should consider reading this book if you want learn what Graphic Design has to offer because it is so helpful and is easy to understand that I’m glad I found this early on from my journey studying in Graphic Design in University. When I had a workshop brief on application called ‘Clenched Hand’, I really should have look into this book because it had everything from the topic of the brief to subject areas within Graphic Design I’ve never hard of and I have done A level Graphic Design in sixth form.

This book is red with black text all over and two diagrams at the front, accompanied with the title that looks like a logo. For someone whose new to design, the text displayed on the cover, they are just terminology used in Graphic Design or better way to think of it as subject areas that Graphic Design covers. Interesting enough these words are actually acting like the content page because all of what you see is what the book covers. Knowing that the book covers 100 topics, I will say that I was surprised to see that the book isn’t thick at all then again the font size of the pages is probably plays a key role in the make up of the book.

So getting on with it, all the contents of this book is very easy to understand and each of the information is layered across two double pages, so the information is on the left side and all the main images are on the right however there are some content where its the other way on the page.

Because there are a lot of content, I’ll be focusing on two of them and they are: the fine print and illegibility. I’ll be talking about them in no particular because I believe that most of them are things to think about during the design process.

Illegibility according to the dictionary, means that it is hard to read or decipher which is not a good thing however in Graphic Design its seen differently. It’s a way to make the word part of the design and have the human brain decipher the words without reading the full word itself. You can say our brain is wonderful in that way because we can just scan a few letters that can seen in the design and it can be process into recognising a full word just by a glance.

Illegibility has been used for years and designers have taken this as an advantage and use it in a whole different way. Designers have taken written text and just defy the ordinary precepts of ‘readability’. A good example of this technique is a mid twentieth century poster for a French cordial called St. Raphaël. The look of this was red, black and white calligraphic exercise designed by Charles Laupot. The name of product was chopped up in three piece, St. Ra/pha/el and just places in a jumbled manner yet when you put it back together it becomes a quilt work.


The fine print is less then noticeable print smaller than the more obvious larger print it accompanies that advertises or otherwise describes or partially describes a commercial product or service. The choice of a typeface for phone books, train tickets, footnotes, or warning labels has much to do with reading habits as with size, layout or print quality. In the 70s, a company named AT&T asked designer Matthew Carter, to improve their existing typeface for the U.S telephone book. As he began his design journey, he realise at the time that typeface, 1937 Bell Gothic was not fit for high speed lithography press which the phone books are made from. Matthew design a new typeface called Bell Centennial to replace the old one.

My overall feeling for this book is, It’s so useful and resourceful and when you read this it’s not hard to understand it. I was surprise to use how the people behind making thus book managed to keep all the information on double page, considering all these topics can be really heavy and one can find long article just based one of the themes. So I do recommend anyone to read this.


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