The Dictionary of Graphic Images

Posted by on Dec 16, 2008 in Drawmark Book Club

By Mark Kaufman

It’s long out of print, all of the images are in black and white, and the terms blog and Twitter did not yet exist, but as you can see from my dog-eared copy it is an absolute treasure. The book The Dictionary of Graphic Images by Phillip Thompson & Peter Davenport, with a foreward by George Lois, was published in 1980 by St. Martin’s Press. It is the one book I would take with me if I had to flee a fire or earthquake. As the sell copy on the back of the book reads, it is “an indispensible reference source… will also fascinate anyone who is interested in the richness, vigor and originality of visual communication.” I couldn’t agree more, I got my copy about 15 years ago, and have been inspired by it’s content ever since.

The book is laid out like an A_Z dictionary with 1,200 entries and more than 1,700 illustrations of great design, illustration and advertising. Although many of the entries and images are familiar, many of the designers, artists, illustrators and art directors are mostly forgotten, or unknown by a generation of creatives, yet they are stunning in their simplicity, and their ability to tell powerful stories without motion, or color, or the sound and fury of quick cuts and attitude. Great ideas are timeless, and this dictionary is filled with them. If you see this book, buy it, steal it, barter for it, but get it and keep it in your collection. It is a classic.

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