Art, Books, Design, Useful Things by Chelsey

Chronicle Books sent me a copy of a new volume called Stylepedia which is, according to its subtitle, “A Guide to Graphic Design Mannerisms, Quirks, and Conceits.” The book itself is well designed, with notches to separate each section of alphabetical entries and hundreds of beautiful illustrations.

Some of the definitions are to be expected, such as “handlettering,” “deconstruction” and “psychedelic poster.” Other entries, however, would have never entered my mind as part of the necessary lexicon of graphic design, such as their homage to the roles that religious message boards, fear, Christmas and Chinese calendar girls each play in the history of art. As a non-designer, it is these unexpected entries that fascinate me the most, because they illustrate the ways that life and art continually feed each other.

Here, for example, is a passage from the entry on camouflage, which has made the journey from function to fashion and back again: “Camouflage has long been associated with artists who were employed during World War I to camouflage equipment and installations. Gertrude Stein quoted Picasso and Braque after they viewed camouflaged military equipment on parade in Paris at the beginning of World War I. ‘We did that. That is Cubism,’ Picasso said.”


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