October '20

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8 0 G R A P H I C S P R O O C T O B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G R E G A R D I N G D E S I G N | M A R K O A T I S THE LATEST REVIVAL EXPLORING THE VICTORIAN GRAPHIC STYLE A reliable axiom in design is that "ev- erything old becomes new again." Styles in architecture, fashion, music, and art—indeed, in most aspects of culture—go through a cycle of loss and rediscovery. And it is forever fascinating to notice the ways in which each generation brings its own interpretation of preceding trends to bear. One example is the way in which con- temporary musicians sample old song segments in the creation of fresh new works. Fads in clothing are another. You can count upon the next incarnation of skinny jeans (once baggy trousers have been back in style awhile—and yes, they will be) to look similar, but different than the tight pants people wore way back in 2020. Nowhere is the rediscovery and use of earlier styles more common than in graphic design. The advertising, posters, packaging, and typefaces of a period are signals; indicative markers of the society in which they were originally produced. Consumers engage with ideas and prod- ucts presented in an exciting manner, and designers strive to fulfill that need. The cutting-edge designs of every era are those rarities that succeed in the creation of something that appears to be entirely new, not influenced by nor easily traced to another style. More typically, however, the kernel of an earlier tradition can be detected, and sometimes those influences are in- tentionally overt, pressed into service for the purpose of creating a particular mood or effect. Today we'll explore the graphic style generally known as Victo- rian, a design aesthetic that (like those skinny jeans) is now enjoying its latest revival. EARLY INFLUENCE Victorian style is marked by an exuber- ant and unabashed celebration of orna- ment that began in England in the early 1800s in the period after the Indus- trial Revolution. On both sides of the Atlantic, the designers of the era were Unusual hand-carved wood types seemed to appear overnight; inventions meant to attract and captivate the viewer. (Image courtesy "American Wood Type: 1828- 1900" by Rob Roy Kelly, collection of Mark Oatis) This city-specific map title block is typical of the elaborate work produced by thou- sands of trained engravers. The original "cut" of this design was probably etched directly—and in reverse—onto the surface of a lithog- rapher's stone. (Image courtesy of the collection of Mark Oatis)

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