Mexican design, the history that defines our present
The curiosity and passion we have for graphic design have led us not only to its production, to generate a concept or plan campaigns around it, but also to delve deeper into its importance, roots and origins.
That is why through a research supported by the books “Historia del diseño gráfico en México 1910-2010” by Luz del Carmen Vilchis Esquivel and “Diseño gráfico en México 100 años” by Giovanni Troconi, we decided to delve into the most relevant of the history of graphic design in our country.
Before starting we decided to divide the research into 7 periods covering the years 1900 to 2021. This allowed us to investigate the most outstanding data of each one, the most outstanding names and movements, as well as to make a visual curation of the most representative.
We prepared synthesized texts with their references; we extracted images from the books and from some digital files; and finally we worked on the graphics for each social network thinking of a simple visual composition.
We share with you a summary of each period and its images, enjoy it!
We delve into the origins of Mexican design, which date back to the Conquest, where tasks such as writing, editing and illustration were already being carried out. We also return to the Porfirian era as a key to the emergence of printing and publishing houses. A popular iconography of great visual value is born, such as satirical caricature, political-social criticism, folklore and characters that prevail in our present.
Figures such as the printer and writer Antonio Venegas Arroyo, the illustrator and engraver Manuel Manilla, as well as José Guadalupe Posada were mentioned. Also from spaces such as the tobacco shop El Buen Toro and the Guillermo Prieto Theater; and lastly from Revista de revistas.
We delved into the commercial works during Porfirismo, which were characterized by Art Deco and portrayed daily and night life; meanwhile, the educational sector sought to combat illiteracy with lithographs from the Taller de Gráfica Popular.
We also investigated that during Cardenista Mexico, migrant artists introduced surrealism with works of a militant nature; later other artistic stages were born, such as the Golden Age of cinema, which created legendary characters, as well as a literary romance with magical and fantastic Latin America.
Caricaturist Ernesto “El Chango” García Cabral, visual artist Leopoldo Méndez, muralist and photomontage artist Josep Renau, painter and father of Mexican typographic design Miguel Prieto. Painter and the father of Mexican typographic design Miguel Prieto stand out in this period.
We remember the founding of the Madero printing press by visual artist Vicente Rojo, which introduced Mexico to a new stage of graphic prosperity that laid the foundations for future graphic design offices and schools. In addition to the commercial line, another one emerged, the highly graphic protest line, as a result of political events.
We talked about the designer Germán Montalvo, about all the design work and pictograms during the 1968 Olympic Games; about the protest graphics of the 1968 student movement; and finally about Mexican psychedelia at the end of the 60’s.
During this decade, movements and publications emerged that played an important role in the history of Mexican graphics, revitalizing new proposals in styles, media, design and diverse themes.
”Movement of groups” and alternative publications integrated more radical thoughts with militant and avant-garde spirit. We also highlight the work of the Revista de la Universidad de México, other cultural magazines, newspapers and supplements.
At this time, graphics and art had a great creative boom driven by new technologies and their use in television media. In 1985 QUÓRUM was born, the Association of Design Studios that sought to disseminate, prestige and dignify the profession.
We highlight the works of designers Rafael López, Bernardo Recamier, Germán Montalvo, Peggy Espinosa, Azul Morris, Pablo Rulfo, among others, as well as those of visual artists Rufino Tamayo, Ramón Valdiosera, Pedro Friedeberg, Carlos Aguirre, María Shelley and Natalia Rojas Nieto.
We highlight the best of this era: the exponential strengthening that the computer revolution brought to the arts industry and graphic design. Thanks to the software, not only editorial design, packaging, logos, environmental design, but also visual communication systems, marketing, urban signage, advertising and political speeches are changing.
Relevant congresses and events arose at the same time that Mexico was interacting with other countries. As well as platforms that help the reinvention of typography and design; it was undoubtedly an era that saw the birth of multiple typographies.
Designers began to group together, changing the dynamics of design: from the individual to create discussion groups, meetings in associations and offices. Competitions and meetings arise that give national and international designers the opportunity to interact, create networks and exchange perspectives.
Magazines were created by designers that included topics of common interest, such as avant-gardes, styles, colors, materials and resources to publish and introduce their foreign influences with free styles and mixtures such as retro, casual, kitsch, fusion, etc.
It was during this period that Tijuana became one of the most intense and daring detonators of graphic design. From its technological and border influence were born projects that experimented with a graphic cliché of the norteño, drug trafficking, animations, techno, rave and binational culture.
In this period, the commitment of design, its policies, stigmas and concepts of visual communication were reflected upon; universalization phenomena such as android designers, web 2.0, globalized strategies, etc. were developed.
It is here when Mexico took initiatives to work on its internal policies, setting guidelines that regulated the market and the discipline of design; as a higher discipline it took a long time to be recognized, which prevented the opening of professional spaces; however, several design laboratories joined efforts and reinforced this intention.
We close the research by reflecting on the application, language, concepts, and visual perception around design; we know that they have been in constant movement, mixing past trends that adapt to the present with different styles such as minimalism, vintage, different typographies, retrofuture, simple shapes and even glitches, to name a few.
In addition to this, the graphic design is enriching and functional, based on concepts such as the design thinkingThese change the way we see and operate the world, and have an impact on the improvement of products, services, internal processes and experiences ranging from organizational, to labor and cultural aspects.
Today more than ever its usability is everywhere, even beyond graphics and interfaces. This can certainly be a good exercise to rethink the profession and its production phenomenon several years ahead.
Troconi, G. (2010). Graphic design in Mexico 100 years. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
Vilchis, L. (2010). History of graphic design in Mexico. National Institute of Fine Arts, National Council for Culture and the Arts.