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

2,341 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


Mar 21, 2022

I was a little bit nervous about this course, I always hated History in school, but surprisingly this was very good! I enjoyed it! The assignments were easy to understand and managebale to complete.


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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51 - 75 of 491 Reviews for Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

By Ale R

Mar 20, 2017

Really well constructed course on some premises, tendencies and movements relevant for the History of Graphic Design. For someone who hasn't had formal design education and is seeking for some knowledge in this area, this is the perfect approach.

By Jessica S

Feb 20, 2020

Engaging overview of the history of graphic design. I left the course with an understanding of the social and cultural influences on design and this class has inspired me to dig even deeper into some of the styles and trends that were discussed.

By Zubair M

Feb 24, 2021

A great course which provides a brief overview of the major movements in graphic design throughout its history. Very informative and this course also helps develop curiosity, your own identity as a designer, and develop better research skills.

By Abhilash

Dec 24, 2016

This course has a great overview of the history of graphics design.The assignments are really fun to do.You will think and research about ads that are reiterations of the 19th century ads.A great course for those interested in the field.

By Aimee L

Jun 15, 2020

Really enjoyed this course - a good introduction to some of the historical roots of graphic design. I did this as the 4th course in the design specialization. If anything, I think it would be useful to do at the beginning of the course.

By Angelica B

Feb 12, 2017

I learnt so many things in this course and it has given me a new perspective when looking at graphic design. Through thus course I have learnt the importance of looking at the history of graphic design and learning from other designers.

By Ana P B

Oct 25, 2016

It was very interesting to know this different periods and specific designer's works. I was surprised to know Sister Corita, her work is awesome. And the assignments were another very nice way to know other cultures and points of view.

By Juan C E

Dec 19, 2016

It is a powerful tool for anyone interested on Visual Arts. The way this course is designed and curated, allows the student to expand the scope of the matter and get some inspiration to pursue his own sources of knowledge. Good work!

By Faria M

Jan 24, 2022

I loved the course, I have learned so many things. if anyone wants to understand how to design perform its role century after century and want to know how does this work as a visual communication this course is just perfect for him.

By Ahmed H K

Aug 29, 2020

At first was confuse what I was going to learn from here. But through out the course I accumulated a basic knowledge of the history and not only that using the past we can also create a unique style design in the respective field.

By Fer G

Jul 27, 2020

This course will give you a good reference to navigate you way around the main pillars of graphic design. After this course you will be able to distinguish elements that come from certain subcultures in a piece of graphic design.

By Pietro C

May 21, 2020

I learned many interesting things about the history of graphic design, I met designers and artists I didn't know, the course left me with the curiosity to investigate the cultural references of contemporary visual communication.

By Ruth J

Aug 16, 2018

This has got to be my favorite among the specializations as it provides context for present and future thoughts and movements of design. The instructors were very good and succinct. The movements discussed were very interesting.

By Anna E T

Jan 1, 2017

I learned a lot about the history of graphic design through this course and I really enjoyed the research assignments which encouraged us to delve more deeply into the history, the changes, and the ideas behind so many designs.

By Esther B

Jan 20, 2021

This is a fantastic course. The teacher is very pleasant andthe pace and content of the individual is very interesting and easy to follow. It inspires me to do more research on the designers and design periods taught in class.

By Mariana M d O

Mar 29, 2021

A course full of content and activities is interesting. It makes a general mapping of the design history, allowing the connection with the current design. It was very interesting and good to take this course, I learned a lot!

By Elsa P

Dec 15, 2017

This is a great introductory course in the history of design. The material was presented clearly and it's very well planned and organized. I had some issues with the audio but this is a minor issue that can be easily fixed

By John R W

Mar 11, 2020

Loved the discussions and examples of different schools of graphic design thought. For me, this was the most intellectually stimulating of the four courses I have taken so far in pursuit of the Graphic Design Certificate.

By Mohammed A

Jan 23, 2023

This course opens my eyes a new perspective on Graphic Design. I am very thankful to Coursera to providing me such a course, it just did not provide me only knowledge, but a new career, life, a whole new confidence.

By Lakhi K D

Aug 12, 2020

The course is quite well-structured in 4 weeks. I couldn't relate much with the 4th-week topic 'Subcultures in Graphic Design. Maybe a global approach to that instead of focussing only on America would be helpful.

By Itika A

Aug 5, 2020

I'm a person who's afraid of history as a subject but this was so insightful and interesting!! Researching was the best part about this course which helped me connect the present and the past of graphic designing.

By Chito I A B I

Jul 3, 2022

The lesson in this Graphic Design history course was very helpful to me. It gave me an additional knowledge of the previous graphic design style that affects the current practice of graphic design profession.

By Aurileide A

Dec 28, 2021

As promised, the course takes some ideas from the Graphic Design History to explain key concepts of basic elements of design like color, grid, shapes giving excelent examples and with very nice pictures.

By carla b

May 26, 2021

This course is very interesting because it demonstrates in the historical line how the techniques and proncipios of Graphic Design were developed, inaugurated and applied over time. I loved! Thank you !

By Анжеліка Т

Jul 9, 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.