Select two innovative typographic designers - one pre-digital (1984), the other contemporary. Provide a brief comparative analysis of their contributions to typographic practice supported by relevant examples of their work.
Typographic design has significantly evolved within the last half-century alone thanks to the digitalization of media and the adoption of cutting edge technologies. Artists are using a myriad of tools to translate the typographic tradition for the new age palette. This can clearly be observed by the the two artists Alex Steinweiss and Yulia Brodskaya whose work can be observed below.
Alex Steinweiss is known as the inventor of the modern album cover. He pioneered the tradition of album cover design that we still use today. From creating the first illustrated 78 rpm album package to the simple idea of replacing standard plain brown wrapper with an eye-catching poster-like illustration, his work began a revolution and created a whole new area for typographic artist to manifest the beauty of their designs.
As you can observe in the above examples, his work combined bold typography with elegant, graphically ambitious artwork. The creation of this new form of artwork meant that limitations involved with other typographic design such a size and hierarchy were eliminated and the new format allowed for experimentation on all fronts. Something particularly adored about much of his work was his use of colour and the effect that this had on he identity of many of the artists he was designing for. His work is said to be responsible for record sales increasing by eightfold. Although his work waned in the late 70s, his concepts and traditions have left a timeless effect on the music industry as well as for designers worldwide.
Yulia Brodskaya was born in Russia (Moscow), significantly later than the time of Alex Steinweiss. Moving to the UK in 2004 she was interested in diverse creative practices ranging from Textile Painting, Origami and Collage to more traditional Fine Art practices. She became a graphic designer but became renowned for her work which combined typography, paper, and highly detailed hand-made craft objects. Extremely innovative in her approach, her work demonstrates the value of experimentation with trype and colour, in a format that Steinweiss set the foundation for.
Many of the examples show the way her art relies on form, using a centralized structure and colour experimentation. Although her innovation lies in the use of paper and craft which is instantly appreciated in these examples, the true beauty still lies in the traditional typographic practice, where no space is used unintentionally. Her use of colour and gradients express meaning beyond the type, something also reflected in the traditional work of Steinweiss.
Although both artists have significantly different inspirations and styles, the comparison of their life’s work demonstrates how the adoption of new technologies can reinterpret the value of the traditional type practice. The introduction of the new form of album cover work meant that typographic design could speak for itself in the purest way and not just hidden within the pages of a publication. This has run into a long standing tradition of artists finding new exciting methods of expression but keeping with the tradition of type design.
1. A. Enright, 'Alex Steinweiss: The Pioneer of Album Cover Art'
2. AIGA 'Alex Steinweiss Biography'
3. Yulia Brodskaya 'about' <http://www.artyulia.com/index.php/About>
4. This is Collosal 'New Quilled Paper Portrait from Yulia Brodskaya' <http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/03/new-quilled-paper-portrait-from-yulia-brodskaya/>