FIDM Graphic Design Students & Instructors Weigh in on “100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design”

If you had to pinpoint 100 ideas that shaped your industry, what would they be? When it comes to the graphic design industry, famed writer, Steven Heller, and design critique Veronique Vienne have done the leg work in the book 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design.

“Written by one of the world’s leading authorities on graphic design and lavishly illustrated, the book is both a great source of inspiration and a provocative record of some of the best examples of graphic design from the last hundred years,” states the book’s publisher, Laurence King.

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design may be purchased on Amazon, and students at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising will be able to check out the book in person at the FIDM Library.

All 100 ideas from the book are listed below. BEFORE you read this list…. can you guess a few influential ideas that shaped the graphic design industry? We asked FIDM Graphic Design Students and Instructors to weigh in on which ideas they consider the most pivotal or interesting:

#38: Found Typography

FIDM San Francisco Graphic Design Department Coordinator, Lisa Hoffman

“Because as I study type and drill down into the details of a character’s line quality, shape, balance, etc… I no longer see the letter form. I often start to see each letter as a small sculpture from this vantage point. The same thing happens in reverse. When I’m tuned into type, I see everything as a letter form.”

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design: Found Typography

Image sources: 1, 2, 3

#45: Pictograms

FIDM Graphic Design Director, Steve Reaves

“I think if I had to narrow it down to just one, it would be pictograms. They are the corner stone to a visual language, and as we become more global, pictograms, (symbols) like in the past, will continue to be the universal language across our verbal and digital landscape. Apps have already proven that pictograms will be with us well into the 21st century.”

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design: Pictograms

Image sources: 1, 2 & 3, 4, 5

#51: Motion Graphics

FIDM Digital Media Student, Julie Lee

“Anything can happen with motion graphics. They can be wild and off the wall. It’s a way to bring your imaginative ideas to life.”

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design: Motion Graphics

# 1: Books

FIDM Graphic Design Instructor, Randy Dunbar

“It’s appropriate that the book is listed as number one, as it is the thing from which all else sprang.”

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design: Books

Image sources: 1, 2 & 3

#65: Sustainable Packaging

FIDM Graphic Design Alumna, Mani O’Brien (Editor,

“I feel inspired by the opportunities that designers have to translate important or complicated ideas to a mass audience through effective design. Sustainability is a wonderful example of this opportunity, so I consider sustainable packaging to be a highly relevant example of an idea that will continue to shape the graphic design industry.”

Sustainable Packaging, #65 of 100 ideas that changed graphic design
(Above: Rahal Farms packaging designed by Anderson Design Group, Torché sustainable wine packaging designed by Gerardot & Co., and Nalu Beads packaging designed in house.)

Images sources: Lovely Package.

Read the full list below:

100 Ideas that Shaped Graphic Design

1. The Book
2. Body Type
3. Rub-on Designs
4. Rays
5. Pastiche
6. Pointing Fingers
7. Vanitas
8. Clenched Fists
9. Monumental Images
10. Female Archetypes
11. Colour Blocks
12. Ornamentation
13. Decorative Logotypes
14. Naive Mascots
15. Entrepreneurship
16. Metaphoric Lettering
17. Swashes on Caps
18. Text as Images
19. Visual Puns
20. The Square Format
21. Primitive Figuration
22. Propaganda
23. The Object Poster
24. Paper Cutouts
25. Manifestos
26. Graphic Design Magazines
27. Botanical Geometry
28. Calligrams
29. Loud Typography
30. Asymmetric Typography
31. Red with Black
32. Supergraphics
33. Supreme Geometry
34. Funny Faces
35. Expression of Speed
36. Corporate Identity
37. Dust Jackets
38. Found Typography
39. Ransom Notes
40. Design Handbooks
41. Avant-garde Zines
42. Collages
43. Riddles and Rebuses
44. Photomontage
45. Pictograms
46. Floating Heads
47. Abstraction
48. Triangulation
49. Extreme Close-ups
50. The Provocative Gesture
51. Motion Graphics
52. Night Spectaculars
53. Shadow Play
54. Good Design
55. Forced Obsolescence
56. Vibrating Colour
57. Strips and Panels
58. Frame by Frame
59. Perfect Rectangles
60. Abstract Graphs
61. Dynamic Diagonals
62. Stencil Type
63. Comic Lettering
64. Parody
65. Sustainable Packaging
66. Public Service Campaigns
67. Branding Campaigns
68. Layering and Overprinting
69. Design Thinking
70. The Grid
71. Brand Narratives
72. White Space
73. Less is More
74. Mono-Alphabets
75. Film Title Sequences
76. Big Book Look
77. Nostalgia
78. Illegibility
79. Scan Lines
80. Teen Magazines
81. Culture Jamming
82. High Contrast
83. Psychedelia
84. Split Fountain
85. Underground Comics
86. Record Album Covers
87. Street Slogans
88. Sexual Taboo Busting
89. Self-Promotional Publishing
90. Tags
91. Universal Pricing Code
92. Vernacular
93. French Theory
94. Do It Yourself
95. The Fine Print
96. Magazine Coverlines
97. Guerrilla Advertising
98. Pixellation
99. Ambigrams
100. Designers’ Websites

You may also read additional reviews about the book circulating the internet from Gizmodo, Brain Pickings and The Atlantic.

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Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at mo’




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Author: Mani O'Brien

Mani O’Brien is the Online Editor for the FIDMDigitalArts Blog and the Social Media Marketing Manager for FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 2006, and Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design (Professional Designation) at FIDM in 2010. When she’s not brainstorming social media marketing ideas or writing about the graphic design and digital media, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading magazines, and hanging out with friends and family in Los Angeles.

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