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Meggs: Making Graphic Design History

ISBN: 978-0-470-00839-3
256 pages
September 2007
Meggs: Making Graphic Design History (0470008393) cover image
Graphic designer, professor, historian, and author Philip Baxter Meggs (1942-2002) was born in 1942, Meggs began teaching in the Communication Arts and Design Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, chairing the department from 1974 to 1987. In 1983, he published his History of Graphic Design--the book that not only put graphic design in its historical context; it put graphic design on the cultural map.

Before Phil Meggs wrote his seminal book, graphic design was left largely unchronicled. A History of Graphic Design offered designers and students of design a foundation on which to build, a starting point from which to move forward, and a context for graphic design's place in history.

This single work afforded an immediate legitimacy to a field that had, until that moment, been considered more of a trade than a profession. As Steven Heller wrote in PRINT magazine, Meggs "laid more than a groundwork; he built a monument to graphic design's legacy. Now he is an integral part of that legacy."

Meggs: Making Graphic Design History is at once a retrospective of Phil Megg's achievements as a historian, educator, and artist in his own right, a deserved tribute to his lasting influence on the graphic arts, and a loving memoriam written by family, friends, and colleagues who were lucky enough to have known him.

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Contributing Essays.

Introduction by Rob Carter.

Growing Up With Phil by Bill Meggs.

The Collaboration by Libby Meggs.

Life By Design: From Ephemeral to Historical by Elizabeth Meggs.

Philip B. Meggs, a Memoir by Alston Purvis.

America's First Graphic Design Historian by Steven Heller.

Fond Personal Memories and Warm Professional Recollections by R. Roger Remington.

Philip B. Meggs: A Personal Remembrance by Roy McKelvey.

Selected Writings and Lectures.

Marshall McLuhan Lecture Notes.

Novum Education: Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

George Tscherny.

The Demilitarization of Graphic Design.

Graphic Design History: Discipline or Anarchy?

Design Education: Pedagogy vs. the Real World.

The Swiss Influence: The Old New Wave.

Toulouse-Lautrec: Superb But Not Alone.

High Style, Low Style, Vile Style.

An Oracle of the 21st Century Book.

What is American About American Graphic Design?

Government Style: Design Consciousness and the Feds.

ITC Bashing.

Test Your Typographic IQ.

Louis Prang: The Man Who Brought Our the Artist in Children.

A Pantheon of Design Education.

Farewell to the Opulent Eighties.

Future Issues in Graphic Design Education.

The Women Who Saved New York.

The Obscene Typography Machine.

The 1940?s: Rise of the Modernists.

Excerpt from Type and Image.

Saul Bass on Corporate Identity.

The Design Education Quandry.

The Vitality of Risk.

The Designer, Paper, and the Environment.

Landmarks of Book Design, Second of a Series: For the Voice.

The Last Word on the Walker Show.

Women's Place: Two at the Top.

Peter Behrens: Designs Man of the Century?

Tibor the Pit Bull.

Landmarks of Book Design, Fourth of a Series: The Elements of Euclid.

I Am Type! Revisited.

Introduction to Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces.

Yin/Yang and the Art of Graphic Design.

Landmarks of Book Design, Seventh of a Series: American Typefounders Specimen Book and Catalog, 1923.

Tribute to an Unrepentant Modernist.

Landmarks of Book Design, Eighth of a Series: The Bald Soprano.

Required Reading for the Millennium.

Methods and Philosophy in Design History Research.

Back Talk: Philip B. Meggs, Design Historian.

Landmarks of Book Design, Tenth of a Series: Before Rosebud was a Sled.

Excerpt from Fotografiks.

Letters to Print: Critical Mass.

Letters to Print: Departed Icons.

Foreword to Revival of the Fittest.

Introduction to The Allure of Postage Stamps.

Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of The Mechanical Bride by Marshall McLuhan.

Epilogue from the First Edition of A History of Graphic Standards.


List of Complete Writings.

Acknowledgements and Biographies.

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  • The definitive book on Philip B. Meggs, his life, his work and his passion
  • Offers a large collection of Meggs' writings in a single source, including articles from Print magazine, the AIGA Journal, selections from his books, transcripts from lectures and presentations, and letters to editors
  • Features compelling correspondence to and from notable graphic designers, revealing the scholarly, intricate, murky, and sometimes-controversial process of researching and writing about design, and of constructing graphic design history
  • Features essays by notable designers including author Steve Heller, historian and professor Roger Remington, design scholar Alston Purvis, his wife and sometimes design partner Libby Meggs, among others
  • Accompanied by a DVD containing recorded lectures and presentations by Meggs 
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"A retrospective chronicling the work and writing of noted design historian and educator Philip B. Meggs." (How Magazine, April 2008)

This book memorializes the work of Philip Meggs (1942-2002), who helped to identify graphic design as a profession through his teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University, his writing and his work as a designer.  His enduring A History of Graphic Design is widely known as the standard and, for decades, the only comprehensive history of graphic design. Meggs comprises pieces of his own work, including reprinted journal articles, lecture notes, and photographic reproductions of his sketchbooks, paintings, and photographs. The collection of writing here presents a good picture of Meggs's analysis of design history and visions for the future; for example, notes on lecture about Marshall McLuhan discuss the role of the mass media expanding the scope of visual communication. Furthermore, in a 1989 article from Print, Meggs predicts the role of desktop publishing technology as a tool for the mass production of bad design. Essays by several of Megg’s colleagues and family members emphasize his dedication to his work and also his courage when faced with leukemia. Recommended for academic libraries that support design curricula.—Eric Linderman, Euclid P.L., OH (Library Journal, January 2008)

"This book is our unanimous decision for BOOK OF THE YEAR in the Graphic Design field because it fills two important functions for anyone in visual communications. First it is a warmly written and thoroughly enjoyable read…..secondly this book gives the visual communicator a look into the inner workings of what it takes to be a great designer." (Design-bookshelf.com; 1/7/02)

"Graphic Historian and educator Phillip Meggs is well known in design circles for his notable work, A History of Graphic Design. Now a new book boasting Meggs' name is available…..includes a selections of his articles, transcripts from lectures and excerpts from his own books." (Dynamic Graphics; Dec/Jan 08)

"Reading this volume, it's easy to see the impact Meggs had as a design historian, author and educator. And just as surely as readers will appreciate his contributions for years to come, to some extent they too will feel the loss of one of design's most innovative minds." (Step In Design, Nov/Dec 2007)

"In 1983 Philip Baxter Meggs published A History of Graphic Design, the first real history of the field and still required reading in many graphic-design curricula…..this book is a loving tribute to his legacy as an educator, scholar, writer, and designer." (Metropolis Magazine; 12/07)

"...any designer who cares deeply about graphic design ought to have this book on their shelves." (Designorati.com; 10/07)

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Meggs: Making Graphic Design History (US $65.00)

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