Job no:70268 Title : RP- Building Design Portfolios Client : Pro-Vision
Scn :
175 Size : 171.45(w)254(h)mm Co : M1 C0 O/P: CTP
Dept : DTP D/O : 26.01.06 (Job no:70268.C1 D/O : 08.02.06 Co: CM8)
OPPOSITE Designer: Skolos-Wedell
By definition, a design portfolio is a grouping
of loose sheets collected in a portable case. But
today, portfolios assume a range of new forms:
websites, motion portfolios, files on disc, port-
able document format (PDF), and limited-
edition books or monographs. Despite their
differences, these presentation forms share a
surprising number of similarities.
Let’s take a brief look at the history of design
portfolios. Before and well into the twentieth
century, designers were most often employed by
printers, acting as in-house designers for all
kinds of printed information, including invita-
tions, manuals, books, or advertisements.
In these cases, the portfolio usually took the
form of a type specimen book, where previously
printed samples showed how a specific typeface,
ornament, dingbat, and border worked on
the page.
Among the earliest examples of type specimen
sheets is Trissino’s display of Arrighi’s italic,
circa 1526. Also worth noting are the lovely
eighteenth-century Fournier and Bodoni speci-
men books, which display both typefaces and
ornaments offered by the printers to their cus-
tomers. There’s also the long and distinguished
series of printers’ manuals from Johannes
Enschedé of Haarlem, the Netherlands, display-
ing the rich variety of typefaces produced by this
foundry from the sixteenth century through the
twentieth century.
In nineteenth-century America, most printers
issued elaborate and extensive type specimen
books, with the most thorough and interesting
coming from the Bruce Type Foundry. Other
examples include the celebrated Harpel specimen
book from Cincinnati, and the long succession of
elaborate American Type Founders type specimen
books that displayed the myriad typefaces and
borders offered by that enormous foundry.
Clients could review type designs and faces in
various sizes and weights and familiarize them-
selves with the house design style specific to
that printer or type shop. Naturally, the different
shops were very distinctive.
By the early twentieth century, designers began
to operate independently of printers. Sir Francis
Meynell, who conceived and directed England’s
Nonesuch Press, saw himself as an architect
rather than a builder, a specifier rather than a
printer. Rather than contracting printing locally,
he went to extraordinary efforts to use the best
printers throughout the world, regardless of cost
or inconvenience. During this period, publishing
companies and food and product manufacturers
began to hire staff designers. Governments
also hired designers to design money as well
as postage stamps. If staff designers were not
able or available to design products, the service
was “jobbed out” to highly respected artists
and engravers.
By the middle of the twentieth century, the art
departments of several universities and colleges
began offering graphic design courses, where
students learned from teachers in classroom set-
tings, rather than through apprenticeships. At
this time, a portfolio, or a carried case similar to
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