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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Ideas from the History of Graphic Design by California Institute of the Arts

2,344 ratings

About the Course

This condensed survey course focuses on four key periods or themes from the history of design in the West. Together we’ll trace the emergence of design as a recognized practice, why things look the way they do, and how designers approached specific design problems in their work. Students will develop an understanding of where the wide variety of today’s design practice comes from. By participating in this survey of the works of innovative groups and individuals, we outline the process by which graphic design moved from a purely instrumental practice, to becoming a demanding creative and hybridized field. Each week, a short quiz will test your knowledge of concepts, and a short reflective assignment will give you the opportunity to analyze the questions designers ask themselves today. This is an essential course for emerging designers entering the field, or for students interested in learning more about visual culture and analysis. No previous experience is required. A note about this course: This course is taught from the perspective of contemporary design, to connect ideas that helped formulate design practice from the 1850s through the 1960s to the ways that designers think today. The relationship of words and pictures in graphic design is looked at through the ever-changing social and cultural contexts, technologies, aesthetics, and politics of their eras. The definition and practice of graphic design includes all public visual communications, which is a global practice. It was the evolution of mass production and communication in the West that specifically redefined graphic design as a professional practice and is this course’s particular narrative. We hope students will consider how to connect the themes and ideas offered in this course to your own culture....

Top reviews


Jul 8, 2022

Wonderful introduction to the history of graphic design. The course emphasize main ideas of 20th century deisgners and provides you with additional information to enable you to do your own research.


Nov 26, 2016

Its been a great course, many info and points that are fantastic in the learning or adding new knowledge always. I will always recommend this course for those who want to know more and learn design.

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1 - 25 of 491 Reviews for Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

By Joel D B

Nov 19, 2017

A largely unstructured course that presents ideas essentially from 20th-century U.S. design history, but without making this clear. Lectures are rather rambling and rarely make their points clearly. More cultural or technical context would have been helpful. There is also no real distinction drawn between graphic design and other design disciplines. Exercises do not really build on the material in the lectures.

By Abdelrahman E

Sep 21, 2019

i didnt benefit a lot from that course felt it to be more theoretical than a practical course and i couldn't remember the names of the artists after i finished cause they are a lot

wish it to be more practical concerning graphic design tasks

By Taylor A H

Feb 22, 2019

This was a good course but I feel like a lot of students interpreted the assignments in multiple ways. Some would submit their work with ideas that I would never have imagined, which could be seen as a creative and good thing, but when it comes to an assignment, I would think a literal interpretation of the assignment is what is needed. This happened to a lot of the courses in this Graphic Design course, and not just this one. I just happened to notice it more with this particular course.

By Utpal B

Apr 9, 2017

This is such a remarkable course and is indispensable for every aspiring graphic artist as well as enthusiast. It covers the remarkable trends in graphic design from past and how those trends permeated into contemporary practices in design. Thanks a lot to California Institute of the Arts and Coursera for developing and offering such a wonderful course with a blend of design philosophies and insights into hands on practice.

By Tatiana R

Jul 22, 2020

I enjoyed this course--it gives a useful and broad overview of Graphic Design, discussing artists in historical contexts as well as unpacking some of the philosophies that informed their work.

By Wellington S

Dec 26, 2016

The tutoring quality are over the top teaching with well done mentoring and high quality materials. But I felt a lack of coverage of other graphic design of other cultures such as other countries where many ideas were born. ie: Africa and Asia.

By Karim J S

Aug 15, 2019

i don't like history myself. i didn't came up with a developed informations after this course

By Sayem

Dec 15, 2017

The assignments should have been more focused towards creating rather than writing.

By Adrien M

Feb 1, 2020

the audio in this course sometimes is very high and snd sometimes is very low

By Xinjuan D

Jul 20, 2019

I am not a history guy

By Susan M

Mar 24, 2017

Excellent introduction to applied visual research. *Ideas from the History of Graphic Design* opened my mind and got me super excited about the usefulness, in fact the necessity of strong visual research. I've found reading design history interesting before, but this course and the assignments helped me make the leap from merely looking for ideas to actual design thinking, with visual research as a core methodology.

By SaSha D

May 27, 2020

This was very enjoyable and smooth. I learned how sociology relates to the patterns of design throughout history. This class kept things fun and exciting. It was a great way to understand design and why these patterns and styles came forth. It also helps to understand where design may go in the future. In turn, this helps me understand contemporary design needs and desires.

By Euginius M

May 4, 2020

Ideas from the History of graphic design is a wonderful course in that it gives designers a solid foundation in their understanding of methods and ideas used in this industry. Knowing how things came to be is essential for one to know why things are as they are in the present, and how they can be in the future.

By Oluwasola M

Jul 29, 2019

Every designer needs to know the history behind forms, function and design style and trends that informs visual communication in the modern world. And that's was why I took the course, it was such a great learning.

By Ana M D

Dec 5, 2016

Loved it and all the examples the teachers put into it, as well as the organization and evolution of themes. Big thank you to the teacher ladies. I learned a lot and enjoyed the lessons very much.

By Rachel Y

Sep 18, 2019

I think learning from the history is really important for graphic designers, as inspirations or reference! This course does a great job covering different styles and schools of graphic design!

By Boula N S

Jul 24, 2019

It is a great course.

By Megan M

Jun 14, 2017

This class is very informative and well put together. Slightly boring and dry, because there aren't any creative projects, mostly just research. Its an important and useful class though.

By Козина А В

Mar 15, 2021

An excellent course that I needed. I found many examples of good design, which I can inspire in my works. And now I will consciously use some graphic techniques. Because knowing, from where and how they happened, whether they were successful in their time, it is easier to predict their impact on the consumer today.

The wonderful lecturer, the video was informative and interesting, not tightened. And the design trends were illustrated at the design examples of a certain era, it is also excellent.

The tasks were fascinating, and not too complicated (in a good sense). I liked that it was necessary first of all to understand and analyze the reasons for using a particular strategy in the design.

By resta a

Mar 15, 2021

It was great to actually learn about the history of graphic design rather than just the history of art in general. larger focus on the history of design itself and of designers in history. studied all the styles of visuals arts ranging from cave paintings to Baroque, to Art Nouveau, to Pop Art, and beyond. This was a still good knowledge to have, I do feel like I learned more about graphic design overall. The last week of the course introduced me to designers and art movements I had never even heard of. Overall, this was a great course and the change in writing about design rather than actually designing was a nice change.

By Hites K

Jul 5, 2020

Firstly, I sincerely Appreciate your guidance like you give me big opportunity to learn. I really enjoyed this course I thought it was well planned and layout for me to learn . the work load just enough so could properly finish everything with enough time learned about topics are not feel overloaded and rushed. Overall I really like this course because all vedio and Assignments are straight forward I got more knowledge about ideas and history of Graphic Design

So Again many many thanks for your guidance.

Thank you so much .

By Susan H

Mar 29, 2021

Excellent high-level overview of four major periods in graphic design history. I really welcomed the chance to learn more about specific designers - suddenly the story and the motivations behind well-known and lesser-known designers comes to light. Really well taught and also enjoyed the wide variety of images shared to get the points across (in fact, if there was any challenge, it was keeping up with the sheer number of images to help absorb the ideas).

By Roberto M A

Oct 22, 2018

It is fundamental to understand the history of the fields we work with. This Course explains some of the main moments from the History of Graphic Design and how it shaped what we do nowadays. The examples and assignments help us think critically about current symbols/objects/graphic elements, placing them in the correct context in the History of Graphic Design. Recommended!

By Reem A S

Jan 20, 2023

this course 4 of Graphic Design Specialization, the title scared me as I don't love studying history, and I was worried about weekly assignments, but the truth is this is a great course and it taught me greatly, and it really adds to how I think about designing, I love it, and I found out my favorite style is Bauhaus style . thank you for the great informative course

By Heylin L L

Dec 10, 2020

Es un curso super importante para quienes estamos aprendiendo diseño gráfico, en este curso nos damos cuenta de las influencias del pasado que aún siguen siendo fuentes importantes de inspiración hoy día y como grandes diseñadores han creado obras de arte en el diseño.

Gracias a Coursera y al Instituto CalArts por dejarme aprender y acercarme un poco más a la meta.