Image and Data Visualisation: What is Art Direction?

“A principle of identity between content and expression.”  – Jan Tschichold

Link: NoisyDecentGraphics. (Written by Ben Terrett, a designer in London.)

Endless Possibilities of Art Direction

Leonardo Da Vinci

(Reference taken from Zollner, F., 2010. Leonardo. Los Angeles: Taschen)

Remarkable, extraordinary, almost always favourable – that is the picture of Leonardo Da Vinci handed down by the writers and critics of the past. They describe a multi-talented, endeavouring, attractive young man, who not only astonished his contemporaries as a visual artist, but was equally impressive as a scientist and a musician. While it was widely known that he also had other characteristics  which might have caused concern in those days. But while he was spending time on his researches in areas that are no more than passing interest to art, his inconstancy and unreliability meant that he finished very few of his works; his talent strove so strongly for perfection and he was so demanding of himself, that he started numerous things but then cast them aside again.

The Vitruvian Man, 1485

A page showing Leonardo’s study of a foetus in the womb, 1510

Da Vinci’s sketches of muscles and skeletons, 1452 – 1519

William Morris

(Reference taken from Zaczek. I., 2001. Essential William Morris. UK: Parragon Publishing)

William Morris was a man of many talents, whose life, and life’s work, made a huge impact on the worlds of literature, design and politics. His many ambitions and achievements expressed a profound commitment and belief in an active creative life for all. Morris experimented with every lecture and poetry. He established the famous design company, Morris and Co., where he enlarged upon the skills he had acquired as an architect to embrace the arts of stained glass, embroidery, wallpaper and furniture design and tapestry.

The Brothers Grimm (1857)

He made a number of other, sporadic attempts in the field. There is, for example, this single-page specimen, which features part of a story by the Grimm Brothers (The Iron Man). It dates back to 1857, when the artist was just 23 years old, and clearly betrays the influence of his recent student days.

The Sleeping Beauty Tile Panel (1862-65)

During the 1860s, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. produced three celebrated tile panels based on well-known fairy tales. These were Cinderella (1862-63), Sleeping Beauty (1863) and Beauty and the Beast (1863). The narrative scenes were designed by Burne-Jones, while the decorative border was fashioned by Morris. The boarder includes a marvellous series of stylised swans. Both Beauty and Cinderella are signed by Lucy Faulkner, and it  is highly probable that she was also responsible for painting this series.

It was after this, Morris embarked on four large pictures know as the Briar Rose Series (1884-90).

Andy Warhol

(Reference taken from 2009. Andy Warhol “Giant” Size. London: Phaidon)


In 1963, Andy Warhol transformed the artist’s studio from a “lonely garret” into a collective, corporate endeavor.He called it the Factory.

Sometimes, on Saturdays, the Warhola family would go to the movies, where, unlike his brothers, Andy favoured the films of Shirley Temple – especially the ones in which the spunky little Shirley, armed with nothing more than charm and talent, guts and gumption, valiantly rescues her parents from penury and danger, in which the factory girl ends up owning the factory or the vaudeville kid, born in a trunk, becomes a star.

Ultimately, Andy Warhol would do everything that he saw Shirley Temple doing on screen, except for the singing and dancing. He would become a star, own a factory, and rescue his mother from the penury of working-class Pittsburgh. He would do these things by catholicizing the funny papers he poured over as a child, by translating images of American popular culture into the language of the Byzantine icons.

“Crazy Golden Slippers” article in Life, 21 January, 1957

“I loved working when I worked at commercial art and the told you what to do and how to do it and all you had to do was correct it and they’d say yes or no.”

Beauty Box: What’s In It For you, Harper’s Bazaar Kay McDowel 1957

“I like boring things.”

Advertisement For Bell System Telephone Service 1928

Marilyn Lips 1962

Roy Lichenstein

(Reference taken from 2011. Art. UK: Parragon 

Lichtenstein preferred to seek out his subjects in popular mass media like comics, from which he transformed motifs from trivial to the monumental. In doing so, he used the traditional comic-book technique of Matrix dots, which he applied with stencils.

Crying Girl, 1964

We Rose Up Slowly, 1964

WHAAM!, 1963


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