About this course

This course presents the history of graphic design from Prehistory to our modern era, focusing primarily on European and American major design movements and pioneering graphic designers and artists.

Lectures refer to the relationship of the fine arts to the commercial arts, examine many different technological innovations and their effects on graphic style, and briefly touch on the social and political climates that defined each era.

Course Objectives

Recognize and describe characteristics of primarily European and American graphic design movements from 1850 to the present.

Recognize and describe primarily European and American social, cultural and political environments from Gutenberg’s era forward, and their influences on later design, art and architecture.

Recognize and identify graphic design tools, techniques and processes from Gutenberg’s era to the present.

Identify and analyze the influences of historic movements and leaders in art/graphic design (mid-20th century to the present).

File Submissions

Please refer to individual project pages for specific submission requirements.

Assignments span a variety of purposes and forms, and therefore require specialized delivery methods to the instructor.

Submissions will be completed in a combination of the following.

  • Google Docs

  • Blog Submissions

  • WCC Email

Semester Points

Attendance and Participation (30)
1 point per class session
30 points total

Two-Minute Essays (20)
2 points per essay
40 points total

Projects (5)
6 points per project
30 points total

Exams (0)

Semester Total
100 points

Instructional Units

This is a brief outline of the instructional units which will comprise the bulk of this course.

  1. Pre-historic Communication
    40,000 BC – 2,000 BC

  2. Early Alphabets
    2,000 BC – 800 CE

  3. Manuscript Books
    800 – 1400

  4. Printed Books
    1400 – 1800

  5. The Victorian Era
    1800 – 1850

  6. Early Modernism
    1850 – 1910

  7. European Avant Garde

  8. High Modernism
    1940 – 1960

  9. Swiss Design

  10. Post Modernism
    1975 – 1990

  11. The Digital Era
    1990 – Present

  12. Our Modern Era

Text Book


Title: Meggs' History of Graphic Design
Author: Phillip Meggs
Required: No

Screen Use

Computers and mobile devices are not permitted during class time.

Laptops and mobile devices are distracting to other students, the instructor, and especially to the actual device-user, and therefore not allowed during class time.

Students are asked to participate in the lectures by staying alert, asking questions and contributing when appropriate.

It's well known that multi-tasking is a myth.

Food & Beverages

This course is not taught in a computer lab and therefore has a much more relaxed food and beverage policy.

Food and drinks in a variety of containers and carriers are permitted and even encouraged. Make yourself at home.