The primary tool by which man has visualized ideas is through the usage of writing and, by extension, type: Writing/type is the visual manifestation of the spoken word. And words are what we communicate with. Thus it is no overstatement when we say that type is the essence of visual communication and by extension of visual communication design. Type, where it is present, is simply the single most important element that you put on a page, since it inherently carries the essence of communication and communication is what our subject of study as graphic/multimedia designers is all about. Thus, the history of visual communication, i.e. the history of the visualisation of the spoken word, will largely follow the development of typographic systems, with a special focus on the Latin typographic system, given that this is the one that we are operating under. Although the primary focus will be on typographic elements and methodologies, the course will, of course, also cover pictorial aspects of visual communication, such as illustration, illumination, photography, shapes, colour etc as and where they pertain to the essence of the subject.
I shall loosely be following P.B. Meggs's book "The History of Graphic Design," which is the seminal work of this area. Given that the internet presents me with this possibility I shall be providing far more visual examples to the material covered than the book itself provides. Thus the following pages are full of clickable thumbnails which will lead you to large sized images clarifiying the subjects at hand.
I am very proud of my heritage as a graphic designer. I know that I come from a long line of remarkable individuals from the scribes of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the medieval book makers, from the likes of Aldus Manutius to the constructivist El Lisitzky. They are my friends and colleagues. I look to them for instruction, for guidance, for inspiration. I know that whatever we design today rests upon their shoulders, their genius, their unfailing good judgement and taste. I look at contemporary design and see traces of Gothic diminuendo or Renaissance page layout. I hope that learning the history of their craft will inspire the same pride and love in my students...
The original history of visual communication website was put together in 2005, as a sub site under my old website citrinitas.com. The site was built to hold the course material for a class called by the same name that I had just started to teach back then and that I continued to teach for several years. The idea was to collect the material that I thought was needed for the course in one place to make life easier for my own students. None of what is written on this site was written by me (the texts mostly originate from wikipedia and some other sites related to graphic design history), and all of the images shown are collected from internet resources (mostly from wikimedia commons, but from elsewhere as well). Thus, the site was (and continues to be) simply an aggregation of online material that was brought together solely to facilitate the teaching of my own class.
It was therefore a huge surprise to me when the site took on a life of its own and became very popular internationally about a year after I had put it together, attracting huge crowds of graphic design history aficionados from all over the place. Today, the monthly visits still range in the hundreds of thousands. Which is why I thought that a design overhaul, as well as a dedicated domain is in order. I have decided to slowly retire my old personal site citrinitas, so this seems to be a good time to move this site as well.
The text and images on the main pages are identical to what was on the old pages, but I have added extra pages to the topics in which I show artifacts from the broader cultures that have generated the calligraphic / typographic /graphic design systems that are of course the main discussions of this site. The old topic pages used to have downloadable slideshows, these new extra pages have replaced those.
I hope you continue to enjoy the site. Please visit my new site elifayiter.com to get contact info and see my personal work. And also this: The images on this site are in the thousands. I have made a concerned effort to use creative commons images wherever I could, but with this kind of volume slippages will inevitably have occurred. It goes without saying that the site is strictly educational, there is no commercial gain involved whatsoever. Nevertheless, should you want an image belonging to you removed, I will of course do so immediately.