BY Benjamin

January 13, 2022

work desk

Graphic design has become a staple part of marketing and promotion. Much so that companies can’t seem to roll out their advertisements without any help from it. And how could they? No print or video ad would ever be complete without their mesmerising graphics; otherwise, they would all look plain and boring.

Indeed, graphic design is a must-have for any company hoping to boost its sales, but did you know that its contents aren’t the only colourful part of its mystique? No, as even graphic design has a fascinating history behind it. The following are just a few interesting excerpts and trivia from its history.



It is believed that the very first graphic designer was an Italian painter named Sandro Botticelli. He was known for his work on the frescoes inside the two-floor Sistine Chapel. He is also the one who created the artwork for many of the paintings in the chapel.

Though the exact date is still disputed, the earliest known use of the term “graphic design” was in 1825 by a German novelist named Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He used it to describe the art of visualisation.

Another interesting thing about graphic design is that it is a relatively newer concept. The first time that the term was used was by a German philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. He used it to describe the fine art of embodying words into images.

Additionally, Hegel first co-opted the term “graphic design” to describe and define fine arts, specifically painting and sculpture. Before then, it was just a word.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century when people began to seriously assess the value of graphic design and its importance in society.


Though graphic design is a modern concept, the first known examples of it were found in Ancient Greece. This was around 100 BCE and was used to illustrate myths and legends. It was also used to make maps, codexes, and astronomical charts.

The first printed book with graphic design was Johann Gutenberg’s Gutenberg Bible, published in 1455. The book was made entirely with movable type, and each letter was printed individually.

The first known instance of modern graphic design was around the 19th century, when woodcut was used in printed material. Woodcut is a printmaking technique that involves carving an image into the wood to create its design.

This was also when the first stage of lithography was used, making it possible to print art. The first press using the technique was created in Germany and was called the Flitsch press.

During this time, the art of typography was first documented. This was done by a woman named Emery Walker, a book designer. As a matter of fact, one of the books she designed, the Standard Four-Line Series, was the first modern design book ever published.

And because of its growing popularity, graphic design became a popular major in colleges and universities in the late 19th century.

Around this time, it was also when the first manual on graphic design, Manual of the Art of Printing, was published in Germany.



Now that you’ve known the history of graphic design, do you think you can appreciate it even more? Take a moment to learn all that you can about it, its history, and how you can use it to increase your success. After all, having a good graphic design can make all the difference, whether promotional or not.

If you are looking for affordable graphic design services in Sydney, look no further than our expertise here at 55 Knots. We are one of Australia’s leading creative agencies offering on-demand graphic design subscriptions. Call us today and let us provide the innovative promotional design that your company needs!


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Captain of ships and commander to a crew of designers. Benjamin Williams is a creative director with over 20 years of experience working with the world’s largest brands.