Early 20th century graphic designers reacted in opposition to the decay of design and typography of the late nineteenth century. The sans-serif font became the characteristic of early modern letterforms. Early 20th century graphic designers such as Edward Johnston and Eric Gill were enthused by industrial and vernacular typography of the earlier century.
The work of the early 20th century graphic designers was very different from the work of modern graphic designers, as they did not have any of the new technological tools in their use. It was a lot more challenging for the early 20th century graphic designers to work and to achieve the results they needed, than it is for modern graphic designers, who are able to use computers and a lot of other technical advantages.
In 1928 Jan Tschichold, one of the early 20th century graphic designers, described the main beliefs of contemporary typography in the book called New Typography. Later on he denied the viewpoint he supported in this work and portrayed them as fascistic, nevertheless this book continued to influence the public. Today Tschichold, along with such typographers as Herbert Bayer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy El Lissitzky are well-known as the founders of modern graphic design. They were the pioneers of stylistic devices and production techniques used all over the 20th century. They lead the way to the investigational approach and it has become more pertinent than ever even though the computer has changed production eternally. But in the early 20th century graphic designers did not have access to three dimensional image creation and image manipulation.
After World War Two, early 20th century graphic designers became in great demand and got a widespread recognition and fame. In the United States of America, a blooming economy recognized a greater demand for graphic design, more often than not packaging and advertising. In 1937, the German Bauhaus design school moved to Chicago and carried a minimalism to the United States, initiating postmodern design and architecture.
In the early nineteenth century, in revolutionary Russia a movement called Soviet Constructivism was rather on the big run. The movement regarded individualistic art as worthless in Soviet Russia. This resulted in creating objects for practical purposes. They devised numerous theaters, buildings, fabrics, posters, furniture, clothing, logos, etc.
One of the famous early 20th century graphic designers was Eric Gill (born in 1882, February 22, died in 1940, November 17). He is well known as a British typographer, sculptor and engraver.
In 1902 Eric Gill studied lettering at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. His teacher was the calligrapher Edward Johnston and Eric Gill.
In 1912 Gill created his first successful work called Mother and Child.
In 1924 he established a new workshop, Jones and other followers went after him. In 1925 Gill invented the Perpetua typescript on the foundation of Classical Roman letters for Morison. Then the Gill Sans font followed, based on the sans-serif letters originally created by Edward Johnston for Underground in London.
Another famous early 20th century graphic designer was Herbert Bayer born in 1900, died in 1985. He was an Austrian painter, graphic designer, and architect and photographer. Bayer was the adherent of clear simplification and he invented a vivid visual style.
In 1928, Herbert Bayer became the art director of the Berlin affiliate of Vogue magazine. In 1938 he moved to New York City and made a big, distinguished career in the graphic arts.