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Design Masters

As a senior in graphic design here at Mason I find it sad that I am so uneducated with the history of my major. There have been so many incredible typographers and graphic designers who influence decisions I make today. To familiarize us with a few names, I thought I would go through several very influential people so we are better educated in the history behind what we do. Jonathan Ive, Aldus Manutius, Wally Olins, Paul Rand, Giambattista Bodoni, William Caslon, and Milton Glaser are just a few of the many who have influenced graphic design as it is today.

Jonathan Ive is probably the most famous contemporary designer today. Jonathan Ive is a product designer, rather than a graphic designer; however it is hard to exclude the work of such an influential person in the creative world.  Jonathan Ive leads Apple‘s industrial design team. His designs are being credited with helping take Apple’s products out of the ‘creative ghetto’ and bringing them into mainstream consumer market. He is responsible for the original as well as recent designs of the iMac and, of course the iPod.

                Aldus Manutius was the creator of the italic typeface style. Initially the italic style was not used to emphasize text, but was created because it was compact and useful for small publications. He was also believed to be the first typographer to use the semi-colon.

It is hard thinking about the terms corporate identity or branding, without thinking of the name Wally Olins. Wally Olins was a co-founder of the corporate identity and branding agency, Wolff Olins. Working with colleagues, he has created brands and identities for some of the world’s leading organisations; to include Orange, 3i, Akzo-Nobel, British Telecom, Repsol, Q8, Tata, The Portuguese Tourist Board, Prudential, Renault and Volkswagen. He has worked in the public sector with the Metropolitan Police, the Government of Portugal. Wally Olins book ‘Corporate Identity’ is considered to be the starting point for any person serious in perusing logos and branding as a career.

Volkswagen logo Q8 logoPrudential Financial logo

Paul Rand was a great influential graphic designer. Influenced by many designers and artists, including Le Corbusier and Paul Klee, Paul Rand’s designs went on to create a huge impact in the fields of advertising, corporate identity and branding, being responsible for developing brands for such massive corporations such as the ABC, IBM and UPS. ABC and IBM are still his original brand used today. He also has published two books, ‘A Designer’s Art’ and ‘Thoughts on Design’.


Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) was an Italian typographer, engraver, type designer and printer. Giambattista Bodoni gave his name to the series of fonts that he designed. Giambattista Bodoni was able to reproduce letterforms with very thin “hairlines”, standing in sharp contrast to the thicker lines, the main stems of the characters.

William Caslon (1692-1766) was a typeface designer and engraver from England. William Caslon’s typefaces became extremely popular in the mid-to-late 18th century and were used for many important printed works. A version of Caslon typeface was used for printing the first edition of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Milton Glaser is one of the most famous American graphic designers of the 20 century. Milton Glaser is the designer behind some of the most famous popular icons, including the ‘I love New York’ campaign for the New York State Department of Commerce and, in particular, numerous advertising posters, record covers and soup cans. 

By familiarizing ourselves with a few influential graphic designers, it can not only help us be better designers but inspire us to learn more.