Jordan Clarke

Sydney, Australia

A mish-mash of artist, illustrator and designer. Fascinated by all things dark, whimsical and vintage her work is characterized by a...

Design Styles Series - GA Group Challenge Series

In an effort to clarify what Graphic Arts is and to foster creativity in the process I landed on the idea of creating an ongoing challenge series for the Graphic Arts group here on RedBubble.

Graphic Arts is notoriously difficult to define – such is the broad scope of it’s uses. But there are some basic threads of commonality, primarily the intention to communicate. Which explains why tertiary studies in the field usually fall under the title of Communications (i.e a Bachelor of Communications). With that in mind, there are several techniques that are characteristic of graphic arts – mostly based around printing techniques (due to the long history of printmaking next to the more recent growth of digital/cyber formats).

The graphic arts have also closely tied with current trends and design movements – which is hardly surprising considering that design is the act of creating to fulfill a demand (as opposed to art for arts sake). Designers are constantly looking to their environment, culture, history, current affairs and so on to inform their work. The linear documentation of art history and architecture are prominent in creative studies – whilst that of graphic arts is less well know (perhaps due to it’s mass-production nature, rather than ‘high-art’ identity). But you will find that art, architecture, industrial/product design, jewellery and graphic arts often cross boundaries with each other.

So, getting to the point. Over the next several weeks I will be launching challenges with themes focused on prominent design styles. To keep it interesting I won’t be releasing them in linear order – but jumping around instead. I will have links to more information, and also be providing examples of original and contemporary works in the theme.

Here are the themes so far:

Cubism / Futurism / Bauhaus


Picasso’s Cubist Man with a Hat of 1912 is an early example of collage, which was a logical outgrowth of Analytic Cubism and marked the beginning of the shift to Synthetic Cubism. Pieces of colored paper and newspaper are pasted onto paper to form geometric representations of a head and neck; the remainder of the image is drawn in charcoal. The use of newspaper, which seems textured because of the newsprint, was a common feature of early collages. Words and letters, which are themselves abstract signs, often formed part of the overall design. Collage, like Cubism, involved disassembling aspects of the environment – just as one might take apart a machine, break up a piece of writing, or even divide a single word into letters – and then rearranging (or reassembling) the parts to form a new image. [i]


The [Futurist] Manifesto sought to inspire in the general public an enthusiasm for a new artistic language. In all the arts – the visual arts, music, literature, theatre, and film – and museum would be abolished, and creative energy would be focused on the present and future. Speed, travel, technology, and dynamism would be the subjects of Futurist art.

Piet Mondrian painted Broadway Boogie Woogie [while living in New York in the 1940s as a refugee from World War II]. This was one of a series of pictures that he executed in small squares and rectangles of color, which replaced the large rectangles outlined in black. The grid pattern of the New York streets, the flashing lights of Broadway, and the vertical and horizontal motion of cars and pedestrians are conveyed as flat, colorful shapes. [i]


The German version of the International Style centered on the Bauhaus. Its aim was to improve the aesthetic quality of manufactured goods and industrial architecture, to produce them more cheaply, and to make them more widely available. [i] The design innovations commonly associated with…Bauhaus [are] the radically simplified forms, the rationality and functionality, and the idea that mass-production was reconcilable with the individual artistic spirit. [ii]

[The] foundations for the future development of functional typography at the Bauhaus were laid with poster and typography designs for various events and publications at the school. This included the Bauhaus postcards, which found wide distribution as original graphic miniatures and which, in their combination of typeface and image, were to become an important advertising medium for the Bauhaus. [iii]

Art Nouveaumore info + photos

Dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm, are found throughout the architecture, painting, sculpture and other forms of Art Nouveau design. Two-dimensional Art Nouveau pieces were painted, drawn, and printed in popular forms such as advertisements, posters, labels, magazines, and the like. Japanese wood-block prints, with their curved lines, patterned surfaces, contrasting voids, and flatness of visual plane, also inspired Art Nouveau. [iv]

Art Deco

Art Deco was a popular international design movement from 1925 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts and film. This movement was, in a sense, an amalgam of many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Neoclassical, Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism.

The bold use of stepped forms and sweeping curves (unlike the sinuous, natural curves of the Art Nouveau), chevron patterns, and the sunburst motif are typical of Art Deco. A resurgence of interest in Art Deco came with graphic design in the 1980s, where its association with film noir and 1930s glamour led to its use in ads for jewelry and fashion [v]

Pop Art

The imagery of Pop Art was was derived from commercial sources, the mass media, and everyday life…The Pop artists strove for “objectivity” embodied by an imagery of objects. [T]he widespread incorporation of letters and numbers into the new iconography of Pop Art reflects the influence of the newspaper collages produced by Picasso and Braque. [i]

Characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture, such as advertising,comic books and mundane cultural objects…Characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture, such as advertising,comic books and mundane cultural objects. [vi] Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I (Tomato) of 1968, illustrates his taste for commercial images. The clear precision of his forms and absence of any visible reference to paint texture intensify the confrontation with the object represented – with the object as object. [i]


Punk visual art is artwork which often graces punk rock album covers, flyers for punk shows, and punk zines. It is characterised by deliberate violation, such as the use of letters cut out from newspapers and magazines, a device previously associated with kidnap and ransom notes, so the sender’s handwriting was not revealed.

Much of the earlier artwork was in black and white, because it was distributed in punk zines reproduced at copy shops, but when colour was used in more expensive productions it was often characterised by being high key, such as the use of fluorescent pink and yellow contrasted with black on the cover of the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks album designed by Jamie Reid.

Punk visual art can include anything from* crudely scribbled letters* to shockingly jarring figures drawn with sharp points everywhere. Often images and figures are cut and pasted from magazines to create a scene and the colors are often two tone and deeply contrasting. [vii]

[i] A History of Western Art (Third Edition) Laurie Schneider Adams McGraw Hill 2001.
[ii] Wikipedia
[iii] Bauhaus Archiv Museum of Design,
[iv] Wikipedia
[v] Wikipedia
[vi] Wikipedia

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