Meggs: Making Graphic Design History / Edition 1

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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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

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 Designis widely known as the standard and, for decades, the only comprehensive history of graphic design. Meggscomprises 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 a lecture about Marshall McLuhan discuss the role of 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 Meggs'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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470008393
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/10/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.82 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents


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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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2007

    There's More to MEGGS

    The Table of Contents shown here does not fully reveal the book's rich offering. Besides presenting a choice selection of Philip Meggs' insightful writings related to graphic design, the book is a visual treat, including many photographs of and by Philip Meggs, his heretofore unpublished sketchbooks and paintings, samplings of his award-winning graphic design work, his notes and margin drawings, and much more.

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