Raphic design history, inspiration and the allure of the past

We all have an interest in history to some extent, and to be aware of where we have come from creates a better understanding of the present.
Within the arts there have been numerous movements which will be known throughout history and referred back to, Artists themselves are influences primarily by other artists, which means that standard art history can sound like a baseball broadcast of infield play: Velazquez to Goya to Picasso.
Picasso himself is known for saying  Good artists copy, great artists steal but what Picasso probably meant was that great artists rummage through the great junk heap of lost, bypassed and forgotten ideas to find the rare jewels, and don t get caught stealing because what they appropriate they transform so thoroughly with their own creativity into their own persona.
The huge bank of historical references, not only in the art and design world but also even to everyday objects, ephemera and popular culture, can serve as great inspiration to designers. However there is a thin line between inspiration and imitation.
My proposed project will look at inspiration and the role design history serves to the creative type, in particular within graphic design.


Points that could be included&

Why do so many people have a keen interest in the past? Looking at personal collections people have and the grown interest in nostalgia in the media, TV and magazines etc. A brief look at the sociology and psychology of nostalgia?

The seeds of many historical graphic design movements are founded in contemporaneous art, literature, philosophy, politics and technology. The past has always been looked at for inspiration by creative thinkers, for example William Morris who drew inspiration from the medieval, gothic period.

As communication is the key in this industry, the message being understood is important and so the revert back by some designers of appropriating historical styles provides already accepted and recognisable codes, and could be considered an easy way out.

Modernism and Postmodernism. With its optimism about the role of design and the belief in the present and future, how do these views fit in with the trend of nostalgia? How have things changed?

Retro and vernacular design. During the 1980 s, graphic designers gained a growing understanding and appreciation of their history. A movement based on historical revival first emerged in New York and spread rapidly throughout the world. Artists such as Paula Scher, Charles S Anderson, Neville Brody etc.
A look at vernacular design, using the language of everyday and the rejection of elitism. Tibor Kalmans M&Co and a more contemporary example.

Young designers today and education. Some young designers are unaware of original or secondary contexts of historical references, using them blindly and perhaps trivialising them. What has changed and should there be more emphasis on graphic design history?

History and how we perceive it depends on memory and books, but what is not often questioned is what was left out. This affects how history is seen and also how it is used. The importance of original context in understanding a piece should be discussed and how things can change in documenting now for the future.

The revival of old techniques and styles, is it a backlash of the digital age? What is being rejected in this modern world and why.

Does the bank of history discourage original thinking? How might this change in the future? What is important to remember when using the past for inspiration.