The Timeline of Graphic Design and Its Impactful Historical Moments 

What we have in the graphic design world right now did not start like this. The graphic design world went through lots of stages, changes, and many historical moments to get to where it is today. In this article, we will talk about the graphic design timeline and its significant historical moments. 

Graphic design timeline 

The graphic design went through several stages slowly as time progressed. Here are the timestamps and the changes they had during that time. 

Early graphic design 

Graphic design was first seen in the olden days in the form of typography presented in newspapers. Later on, posters can be found in the 1900s. If you have ever seen the “We Can Do It!” recruitment poster, then you have seen an example of a poster printed in the 1900s. 

The 1960s 

The 1960s is the era of television, as more and more people are starting to get them. Since television is getting more common, advertisements are also starting to appear on television. Thus, it was the age of black-and-white television advertisements. 

Advertisements also help the re-emerge of posters. The posters published in the 1960s had a minimalist style, as it is mostly the image of the product presented in black and white pencil sketch style. 

The 1970s 

The 1970s is the era where advertisers got creative. Graphic designers were starting to experiment with the advertisement’s style as they ventured into the non-traditional format. 

A new trend that emerged in the 1970s is the use of notable figures for advertisements. An example of such a notable figure is Ray Charles. Ray Charles was seen everywhere in advertisements, and his printed image was humongous. Ray Charles was the focus of the advertisements, while other elements are placed next to his image.  

The 1980s 

The 1980s is the era of boldness. It can be seen from the amount of bright and bold colors used in people’s daily activities. The same can be said about graphic design. Designers used all kinds of bright colors for their design, while the typography was in white. 

Technology also started to develop in the 1980s thanks to the discovery of MacPaint. Thanks to that, designers were able to design using graphic tablets. Designers no longer need to assemble their design manually, as they were finally able to design everything on the same page. 

The 1990s 

The 1990s is where graphic design is fully involved with technology. Photoshop 1.0 was released in 1990, and thanks to Photoshop designers were able to do things such as overlapping texts, creating digital overlays, and other technological techniques we use nowadays. 

Besides technology, graphic design also shifted to a new trend, which is the trend of grunge or dark colors such as black and red. Posters had raw designs, and graffiti was the most common type of typography used. 

The 2000s 

If the 1990s is the start of technology within the graphic design world, then the 2000s is the time where everything got even more advanced. Many designing tools were released besides Photoshop, and because of those tools, graphic designers were able to develop their skills using technology.  

The 2000s is also the era where new devices keep appearing, creating the demand for responsive layouts that can easily adjust to the different devices.  

Historical Moments in Graphic Design 

In-between the moments mentioned above, there were also historical events that created a revolution in the world of graphic design. Some of those moments are: 

Computer Arts 

We have magazines for fashion, wellness, and many more. Graphic design also has a similar magazine. Although the magazine is still published today, the content now is quite different from what it was back then.  

When Computer Arts was published in 1995, it mostly talked about tips and tricks to create a design using applications on the computer. It might sound simple to us, but it was a big deal back then as those applications were pretty foreign back then. Thanks to Computer Arts, designers were able to use the designing applications better. 


IKEA was a game-changer for the design world. Before IKEA came into existence, furniture used to be luxurious and grandeur. Thanks to IKEA, people became aware of the existence of minimalistic design. Many households are starting to adopt the concept of minimalism into their home’s design. Eventually, the concept of minimalism goes far and wide beyond furniture, affecting all kinds of design. 


iMac was life-changing for two reasons. The first reason is its design. iMac had a minimalistic and futuristic design that stood out among other computers. It was unlike other designs, making it the beginning of minimalistic design when it comes to technology. Graphic designers fell in love with the design. 

The second reason is because of its usage. Although computers and other technological devices are already established, it was still uncommon for people to use technology for their daily activities. However, iMac changed all of that. Thanks to iMac, designers started to get accustomed to using technology for their daily designing activities. iMac’s impact can be seen in the life of Stanley Chow, a designer who claimed that he only used canvas until his father purchased an iMac for him. Such is the impact of iMac. 

Speak Up 

Although designers are getting accustomed to technology for designing, it wasn’t until later in the early 2000s that designers used technology to exchange ideas online through Speak Up. Speak Up was a design blog published in 2002 that discussed various topics related to design, from design techniques and other ideas. The blog published by Armin Vit became a major hit among designers, and it was the start where designers use the internet to keep in touch with other designers.  


YouTube is another revolution that shook the world of graphic design. Thanks to YouTube, many can self-learn graphic design concepts. Aspired designers do not need to spend lots of money to learn new techniques, as YouTube allows them to learn by themselves. 

From the timeline and historical moments above, is there any that caught your attention?