Graphic Design before Graphic Designers!

Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers book in the Solopress printing blog

What was printing like before graphic designers? Not as boring as you might think! Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700 – 1914 is a new coffee table book published by Thames & Hudson ( that showcases some of the inspiring artwork created by print pioneers and anonymous jobbing printers prior to the start of ‘The Great War’.

Written by award-winning graphic designer and typography expert David Jury, Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers features work from influential typographers and printers such as Giambattista Bodoni and William Morris. At 312 pages, Jury’s lovingly compiled book has nearly 800 illustrations of books, catalogues, pamphlets, posters, adverts, packaging and other items printed from the 18th to early 20th centuries. His previous books include Typography Today and Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade.

A great source of reference for today’s graphic designers, this hardback should ideally be given out to every design student on the first day of their college or university course. Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700 – 1914 (ISBN 9780500516461) is out now, priced £36.

Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers book in the Solopress printing blog


  1. I am glad that I started out in graphic design before computers were widespread. It taught me the lost art of casting off and pasting up copy. Back then (not that long ago) we seemed to have the time to be able to design. Now clients want everything yesterday so design has to be compromised with speed.

    I originally trained in photography and still use that as part of the business today. This also was good to start with developing in a dark room, seeing the image magically appear. Photoshop has replaced all that and it has given me a greater freedom of expression but I can still remember my very first print!

    I shall take a look at this book it looks very interesting 🙂

  2. Some of these designs look way ahead of their time, specially as there was no such thing as a “graphic designer” back then. Thanks for the heads up on this book, it looks really interesting.

  3. The book looks really interesting. How things have moved on and design influence is a powerful factor with marketing.

  4. Looks like an interesting book, and it’d be good to compare designs through the ages. I bet some old ones may look familiar where they have come back into fashion over the years!

  5. I love the look of this book. As a book publisher, I am constantly aware of how important the typography of a book is – so often we are focused on the illustrative elements of design these days and to me beautiful type can be the hardest part to achieve.

  6. Interesting, I sneakily suspect designers were slightly more talented not having the convenience of Photoshop back in the days before computers, but I wouldn’t admit that to many! Now all I need is a coffee table!

  7. A great read, without our designer and Solopress doing a great job of the printing we could not reach our new clients and update our existing. Thank you, Peak Performance Sports Ltd.

  8. That sounds a fantastic read! Some of the stuff that was turned out back then puts some of the “designers” of today to shame. The fact that many of those fonts are still staples of our collections today says it all.


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