500 Best Graphic Designs

A new book from Phaidon gathers 500 of the best graphic designs created since mechanical reproduction began. The images span magazine covers, advertising logos and images, film graphics, book covers and more. Actually, it’s not a book; it’s a box of 500 image cards, each of them with the stark image on one side and the history of the image, its creation and its use on the other.

New York ad man George Lois, whose Esquire covers are featured in the collection, gave a brief interview, in which he reflected on the ‘terrible’ state of current graphic design. What’s missing? Courage, he says.

I think a lot of it is terrible. I had the misfortune six months ago of giving a lecture to 800 people at this once-great advertising company. Their work was all over the walls and I was looking at it thinking it was all terrible. You understand why when you talk to them – a lot of them told me how lucky I was to work in an era that didn’t have bad clients. Are you kidding me? There have always been pain-in-the-ass clients, and there have always been problems. Nothing’s easy in this world. We didn’t just do great advertising out of our asses. We came up with an idea and believed in it and fought for it and had the courage to not do anything we didn’t consider to be great.

Perhaps the most famous of Martin Sharp’s acclaimed covers for Oz magazine was this Bob Dylan cover (1967). (via Guardian)

This August 1940 issue of Vogue was designed by art director Mehemed Fehmy Agha from a photoshoot by the great German fashion photographer Horst. (via Guardian)

The subscription-only erotic magazine, Eros, was created by Ralph Ginzburg in 1962. It was the first American magazine to feature intimacy between a black man and a white woman. (via Guardian)

Here are the box and index cards (which can be categorised in the way that makes most sense to the user).

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