Throughout the 20th century, many people played important roles in the changing face of typography, establishing new styles and approaches which revolutionized trends and continue to inspire new generations of graphic designers even today.
Bruce Rogers (1870-1957)
Having rejected the principles of modernism, the American typographer and type designer Bruce Rogers championed the classical design style. He preferred to use mainly roman typefaces, in keeping with a clean, traditional look. Following his graduation from Purdue University in 1890, Rogers worked as an artist before pursuing his interest in designing fine books. His most famous typeface was Centaur, which drew inspiration from Nicolas Jenson’s Venetian faces.
It was created for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1915 limited edition of Maurice Guerin’s The Centaur. Rogers repeatedly used the Centaur typeface throughout his career. From 1928 to 1935, Rogers famously worked with T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) on a fine edition of Lawrence’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey. Widely recognised as the greatest 20th century book designer, Rogers is an inspiration to all designers with a reverence for the classical, and his books sell for princely sums.
Hermann Zapf (1918- )
A veritable titan of 20th century typography, the German typeface designer Hermann Zapf’s long and distinguished career was almost ended prematurely when in 1933 he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp by the Nazis for his involvement with trade unions. Emerging from the horror of the Second World War, Zapf worked as a graphic artist in book design for a number of publishing houses, designing types for hot metal composition, phototypesetting and digital typography for desktop publishing.
Zapf’s two most famous typefaces Palatino (1948) and Optima (1952) have been copied by a wide range of designers, most famously when Palatino was ‘re- interpreted’ as Monotype’s Book Antiqua, which was included with Microsoft Office. Bridging the post-war and digital revolution, Zapf is a true icon of typography.
Paul Rand (1914-1996)
An American graphic designer heavily influenced by modernist theory and art, Paul Rand sought to ‘defamiliarize the ordinary’, becoming globally renowned for his striking corporate logo designs.
Rand established himself as one of the most influential members of the New York School and one of the key originators of the International Style (or Swiss Style) in graphic design, which was founded on the modernist principles of De Stilj, Bauhaus and Jan Tschichold’s New Typography. Although he gained fame early in his career with his work in page design, it was Rand’s corporate logos created in the 1950s and 1960s that made him a superstar of graphic design. His accomplishments simultaneously raised the profile of art directors. Among his famous corporate logos, combining simplicity, recognisability and function, were the logos for IBM, UPS and ABC.
David Carson (1952-)
An American graphic designer lauded for his wild experimental typography and extremely creative magazine design, David Carson heralded the postmodern age of graphic design. He was one of the most influential and widely imitated designers of the 1990s, defining an aesthetic that evolved into ‘grunge typography’.
Teaching sociology while also hitting the waves as a professional surfer throughout the 1970s, Carson worked as an art director on various surfing, skateboarding and music magazines during the 1980s, before grabbing global attention while he was art director for style magazine Ray Gun from 1992 to 1995. Carson distorted text, flipped images and raised a large question mark against what type could do in the new era of digital design. Carson is the creative director of the new Carson magazine launched 2011 in the US.
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