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General History of Graphic Design Essay

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Updated: Oct 3rd, 2021

The so-called Arts and Crafts Movement appeared in Britain at the turn of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. It was inspired by John Ruskin’s works. This movement romanticized the image of craftsman, who takes pride in his work and does not perform it as some soulless robot. They believed that dehumanization of work and industrialization could transform artists or craftsmen into a machine that does everything automatically.

To a certain degree, it symbolized the end of the Victorian epoch and probably it was a reaction to the constant process of industrialization. The supporters of this movement tried to find a compromise between art and the industrial machine. We can say that at the end of the twentieth century this compromise was found and now it is called design.

People who were associated with this movement for instance William Morris or Mackmurdo believed that that Victorian urbanization made an assault on the integrity of an artist or a craftsman. Its representatives were firmly convinced that a person had to adhere to the principles of the craft but not to the principles of the industrialized production, which means it is the quality of the work, which counts not quantity otherwise; the craftsman would gradually become a hack worker or a machine (Meggs, 33).

They believed that the key principle of craftsmanship is that the person must derive pleasure from his work Thus we may arrive at the conclusion that the representatives of this movement attempted to equate art and craft. In point of fact, such designers as Morris or Morris or Mackmurdo believed these two notions had been a single entity once but they had been torn apart during the process of industrial revolution and craft gradually transformed into soulless machine production. Therefore, they set an aim to put these two halves together.

The key feature of this movement is that the principle of division of labor was entirely alien to them, in other words the representative of Arts and Crafts Movement believed that an artisan must create all the parts himself; probably with some help of his apprentice.

However, we cannot say that adherents of this movement entirely denied mass production. Morris for instance designed some carpets for machine production.

It must be taken into consideration that these movement had a great impact on later art. Especially, their idea, that craft and art should be joined into a single entity. With time passing this mixture of artisanship and art was called applied arts or design. The main peculiarity of applied arts is the attempt to combine usefulness and esthetics. It is worth mentioning that this movement influenced the German Bauhaus school, which was founded by Walter Gropius whose ideal was to integrate quality, technology, and art (Meggs, 33).

This movement had a strong influence in America especially on the so-called Prairie style whose characteristic features were widely overhanging eaves and low-pitched roofs.

Thus, we can arrive at the conclusion that Arts and Crafts Movement to a certain degree affected every form of art and created entirely new phenomenon, which is called design.

Bibliography

Meggs Phillip. “Meggs’ History of Graphic Design.” J. Wiley & Sons, 2005.

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